Colourisation used to recreate original Dreamland sign

Scaffolding has today come down on the famous vertical sign at Dreamland, another important milestone on the journey to bring this historic building back to life.

As part of Thanet District Council’s restoration work, an historical lighting technique has been used to accurately replicate the colours of the original Dreamland neon signage ready for their imminent switch on.

In order to recreate the shade and warmth of the lights from the iconic sign, specialist analysis has been carried out using black and white photos and written accounts to determine their original 1935 colour scheme.

The new neon lighting is just one part of the council’s phase two development of the Grade II* listed former Sunshine Café building located on Margate main sands.

Using black and white photos, ‘My Colorful Past’ volunteered their time free of charge to painstakingly build up an accurate representation of how the lights would have looked in colour. Using a specialist algorithm, they dissected the shades of black and white from the photos and assigned them to the time of day it was taken.

To ensure as much accuracy as possible, the team then aligned their results to various other historical descriptions of the lights from that era, which detailed them as ‘yellow, orange, and steel blue’, to confirm the shades were indeed correct. The lighting scheme was also developed in consultation with Historic England.

Credit Mycolorfulpast

Cllr Lin Fairbrass, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “Everyone is looking forward to the neon signage lighting up the sky once again and bringing a sense of grandeur and glamour back to our iconic seafront. The sign was a bold architectural statement so it’s only right that such care and attention has been given to accurately light up the past.”

Matt Loughrey, My Colorful Past, said: “It's been a pleasure to see this project come to life and to see another 'real world' application of colorization at such an iconic building.”

Bernie Morgan, Chair of the Dreamland Trust, said: "It is great news for Dreamland and Margate that the lights are once again showing the way to the park for visitors and residents alike. It adds to the nostalgic memories of all those who visited in the past. It also helps bring another bit of Dreamland and the seafront back to life."

Restoration work, which is part of the second phase of Dreamland led by Thanet District Council, is seeing the building transform into an ideal space for a destination restaurant, with a separate lettable space on the ground floor. The Sunshine Café building is currently advertising for an operator of both the top and ground floor of the building.

Repairs to the building have included restoration of the original seafront elevation windows and the building’s ‘fin’ and fascia. Alongside the neon lighting, a new roof, and lift are being installed. New brass hand railings, brass entrance doors, and Venetian plaster work to the ceilings and atrium of the foyer are also being restored it to its original 1930’s design. A switch-on event is planned for the spring and people may see the lighting being tested over the coming months. 

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E-Mail: press.office@thanet.gov.uk