Dreamland Margate – The land of dreams
Situated a stone’s throw from Margate seafront, Dreamland Margate is one of the UK’s best-loved amusement parks. Described as the heartbeat of Margate, this unique vintage-style amusement park boasts historic thrill rides, fairground games and a plethora of food vendors, all set within a space capable of hosting major events and visiting attractions.
Dreamland recently reopened following a significant revamp, with a new vision to create a true destination and events space, complete with headline acts including the likes of the Gorillaz. The feedback since reopening has been extremely positive and with even more acts lined up, including Slaves, Trojan Sound System and a Faithless DJ set featuring Sister Bliss, there is a currently a big buzz surrounding the seaside town.
Premier Construction took a trip to Margate to see what all the fuss is about, calling into a couple of the town’s new additions – Cinque Ports – formerly a pub – and Ziggy’s – a new rooftop bar – along the way. All we can say is wow – the new-look Dreamland is truly a fantastic sight to behold and the work going into this scheme demonstrates the passion and commitment made to make this project a success.
d_raw is the architect involved with the Dreamland project, while WFC is the main contractor. During our time in Margate, we caught up with d_raw Project Architect Alex Croker and WFC Contracts Director Mark Harris, to ask a few details about the project; including an understanding of the brief and the challenges the team have faced to expand the Dreamland dream.
Speaking to Premier Construction, Alex said:
“The initial brief was to create an entirely unique destination, nothing like anywhere else in the country that respectfully builds upon a historically significant corner of England. The heart of this masterplan is, of course, the park itself dating back to Victorian times with the at-the-time showstopper; scenic railway. Other vintage rides were scattered throughout the park when we were first appointed and these were the starting points for our concept.”
“The long-term aim for the park is a ‘destination’. This includes major events and concerts such as the Gorrilaz performing in the park which has already been a huge success.”
As part of Dreamland’s reopening, the amusement park has been joined by a number of new additions, including Cinque Ports – a fantastic bar with a unique distressed feel – and Ziggy’s, a fabulous rooftop bar that makes the most of Margate’s stunning sea view. In addition, a few key areas have also been added to Dreamland itself, including a VIP bar and a collection of Green Rooms, designed to offer comfort for Dreamland’s headliners.
Speaking to Premier Construction, Mark said:
“It was a cold December morning when Chris Lees, Lead Designer at d_raw invited me to meet with him at Margate to look at a project he had been working on. We looked around what was then a run-down pub and an old nightclub, both which were well past their sell by date, and Chris then described what was to become of these – the pub – now known as Cinque Ports – being totally refurbished including all new Mechanical and Electrical services, with the intention to take it back to how it was in the Golden days of Margate.
“With the club, although the long term intention for this space was yet to be agreed, initially the front façade was to be completely remodelled with the existing lobby areas being removed, new enlarged openings to be formed for the installation of new windows and doors together with the complete new external cladding system. This would join the conversion of a roof space – now known as Ziggy’s – to form a roof top bar area with views over Margate.”
“These seaside buildings that lie between the park and the beach did require urgent attention, especially the pub – a Grade II listed property. We were tasked with restoring the pub to its Victorian-era successes and adding the rooftop bar to the neighbouring closed-down club.”
Cinque Ports is situated in front of Dreamland, directly opposite the seafront, and presents a relaxed atmosphere perfect for the hipster generation. Designed with an eye towards vintage styles, Cinque Ports boasts a cocktail bar, an outdoor seating area, a restaurant and most importantly of all, a comfortable vibe.
Design highlights of Cinque Port include Juliette balconies, soft lighting, large feature lampshades and an open plan kitchen. Paintings decorate the wall, stuffed grouse sit on the bar and aspects of leafy greenery have been added to bring a little of the outside in.
It’s the small touches at Cinque Port which really make the difference; adding character to what is already becoming a beachfront hot spot. These touches extend to the washroom areas too, which include copper pipping and motorcycle mirrors on the walls.
The unique touches aren’t just confined to the interiors of Cinque Ports; a real attention to detail is also on display across the exterior too. The bar’s signage has been expertly hand painted (we watched the artist in action as he painted) while an old street lamp has been sourced and added to the side of the building to add a classic feel.
Situated next to Cinque Ports is Ziggy’s – a rooftop bar inspired by the laidback beats of Jamaica. Taking influence from reggae and Ska, the bar can be accessed via a stairwell – decked out in eye-popping graffiti artwork – and boasts a bar, food servery area and plenty of space for drinking, conversing and enjoying the open atmosphere.
Design highlights of Ziggy’s include wooden panelling, metal staircases, solid wooden tables and outdoor lighting – perfect for illuminating long summer nights. The design scheme includes dashes of red, yellow and green, the colours of the Rastafarian flag, as well as decorative murals, including a Ska-inspired piece of wall art.
Perhaps the most notable feature of Ziggy’s is what the rooftop bar can offer guests – an unsurpassed view. To the front, guests can sip their drinks in the open air while looking out onto the vast vistas of the surrounding seascape; while to the back, guests can see into the wonders of Dreamland.
To complete the new additions to Dreamland, the team have designed and fitted a number of back-of-house facilities, including four Green Rooms. The Green Rooms are as glamorous and eclectic as one might expect and include cinema seats, Hollywood mirrors, rustic furniture and shower & washroom facilities.
The Green Rooms are all self-contained, but can be opened up so they connect together, and sit behind a special Dreamland VIP bar close to the park’s kitchen area. The Green Rooms are kept out of site from the general public, but have been designed and fitted out with the same high standards as all the other areas of Dreamland.
Work began on Cinque Ports, Ziggy’s and the Green Rooms in mid-January, with the Green Rooms completing first, followed by Cinque Ports and Ziggy’s. Work on each element ran as expected, but of course that doesn’t mean the whole project has been challenge free – co-ordination and communication have been key throughout.
“To handle the extensive amount of work within the timescales we employed multiple trades, utilised careful coordination and reviewed all programming issues on a daily basis. At times there were in excess of 70 tradesmen within the pub and nightclub buildings and over 200 on park side!”
“The biggest challenge on the project was the balancing act with the client, interest groups, construction team, Dreamland management staff and Thanet Council. Much of the construction was either listed or within the structure / curtilage of a listed structure and this threw up all kinds of issues in terms of consents required, timescales, what we could and could not touch.
“The council and English Heritage were understandably very wary of how we were to treat the Cinque Ports, for example, even down to retaining a small part of the central stair handrail because it was nearly 200 years old, but this actually was a great parameter to work with and it ended up adding to the character of the design!”
With the majority of work now complete on the project and Cinque Ports and Ziggy’s already open to guests, Alex, Mark and the team are very pleased with the outcome. Margate is fast becoming a town on the up and up and the future looks very bright for the seaside town, which is something d_raw and WFC will be keeping a close eye on.
“The next stage of the project is to now watch Dreamland grow. There are a few bits and pieces that need to be finished, to make them fully operational, but it’s exciting to think how it will all look in ten years’ time.
“There is huge investment going on around the town and along with the high speed rail developments, which will encourage people to buy property down here, the scope for hotels and the thriving arts scene continue to encourage people to settle in Margate.
“We’re currently at one of those ‘watch this space’ situations – and that’s a very exciting place to be. Margate really is a different world, especially if you live in London and that’s why we like it.”
Adding a note of thanks, Mark said:
“Everyone involved within the construction, from my team, Dave, Kevin and their guys, together with our complete supply chain all pulled together and for that I thank them all.”
Steven Mitchell, CEO at Dreamland Margate, concluded:
“WFC continue to play a hugely significant role in the restoration and preparation of our venues. They include our all-new rooftop bar – Ziggy’s – and pub – Cinque Ports, as well having enabled the successful functionality of our new back of house facilities – which support our event spaces. The new park has been extremely well received and we’re delighted with the reaction locally and countrywide.”
For more information about Dreamland, including opening times and events, please visit: www.dreamland.co.uk.