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Dreamland fire: blaze breaks out at Margate theme park

By KentOnline reporter

A blaze at the Dreamland site in Margate is being investigated as a possible arson.

There were fears that the fire, which broke out at 8.30pm yesterday, may have damaged the famous Scenic Railway.

But Kent Fire and Rescue have confirmed the blaze was confined to a disused building near to the railway.

Fire crews brought the Dreamland blaze under control, Picture by @charlotte92

The Scenic Railway is set to be one of the main attractions when Dreamland reopens as a heritage theme park.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

A statement on Dreamland's Facebook page said yesterday: "There was a suspected arson attack on the Scenic Railway this evening.

"The fire was successfully put out and there was minimal damage. The site is currently being boarded up and secured."

It comes just days after a key development at the site was unveiled.

A learning and visitor centre, complete with working pinball machines, opened on the seafront this week.

It will be there for the next 12 months while restoration work is carried out.

It welcomed more than 3,000 people in just the first three days.

Fire crews at the scene. Picture via @charlotte92

The latest fire is a setback to the grand dream of recreating the nostalgia of the former Dreamland attraction.

In 2008, Britain's oldest rollercoaster was badly damaged in a suspected arson attack.

The Dreamland site in Margate

The then 88-year-old wooden Scenic Railway rollercoaster went up in flames, with smoke seen rising from the ashes up to 20 miles away.

Then, more than 50 firemen battled to put out the blaze.

Fans of the iconic rollercoaster and park have reacted angrily to news the latest fire might be arson.

Lance Harding said on Facebook: "So sorry to hear about this, hope it does not scupper the great work you are doing to bring Dreamland, back to us all.

"I really cannot think why people would try to stop this."

Richard Adkin said the fire was "so disheartening".

Dreamland amusement park, Margate, in the 1960s. Picture: the John Hutchinson collection.

He added: "The park seems to be cursed with attempts to stop it ever re-opening.

"I hope the culprits are caught as soon as possible and thrown a hefty punishment."

Thanet council today said it was working with police and the Kent Fire and Rescue Service to establish the cause of the fire.

A statement said: "Thanet District Council will be working with Kent Police and its security team to review how the site has been accessed and to determine whether additional security measures will be needed around the perimeter of the site.

"The council is very grateful to the members of the public who reported the incident and to the Fire Service for their quick and effective response."

The old scenic railway as it looks today

Council Leader, Cllr Iris Johnston, said: “We are very grateful to the members of the public who reported the incident last night and to the Fire Service for their quick and effective response.

“Council officers attended to assess the damage, along with our partners at The Dreamland Trust, and are back on site this morning to review what measures need to be put in place to prevent a repeat incident.

“Thankfully there has not been any damage to the Scenic Railway and plans will progress as scheduled to develop the exciting new amusement park.”

Thanet District council provides security for the Dreamland site. The entrances and exits are secured and regular patrols are carried out by the council’s security contractor.

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