Vintage Market at Dreamland Margate
A few days back we spent the weekend filling up on chips and manically spinning around on restored vintage rides. No we were not having a mid life crisis, or would that be a quarter life crisis (can you have a mid life crisis in your early 20s?) We had been given free reign at Margate's Dreamland! A giddy trip on the Dancing Waltzer, a bumpy ride on the dodgems that proved why we no longer take driving lessons and a trip on the Phantom Express that we admitedly found a lot scarier than we should have and we'd worked up a mighty appetite for a circuit of the Vintage Market and chips galore.
Words by Danielle Morgan
Held in the newly refurbished Hall by the Sea and decked out in reams of fairy lights and tinsel, the DJ spun festive 45s and I sifted through battered vinyl, kitsch home wares and everything else in between, all crammed onto rickety pasting tables and into old suitcases.
Whether you were on the hunt for rare vinyl or er... starkers photos, the vintage market catered to all our festively retro needs. Be it Bakelite homewares or '60s cycling shirts, these stalls were not in short supply of kitschy or quality goods. Clutching a sugary tea in one hand and throwing my money at whoever would take it with the other, I gradually made my way around the packed hall, which had been beautifully restored whilst still retaining some of the original character; exposed brickwork and peeling paint mingled in with strings of fairy lights to create a welcoming, lived in feel to the place.
If you're wondering what loot we left with, it included an outrageous welsh tapestry coat and THAT Muppets LP, oh yeah... we went there.
Outside, there was a chill in the air but that didn't stop us over enthusiastically pushing all the kids out of the way to have a go on all the rides. Who would pass up a cloud of candy floss and 5 go's on the helter skelter?! NOT ME. So what if I had to tuck my legs under my chin to fit into the cart? Or got stuck at the top of the helter skelter because my backside didn't fit into the chute? Kids are too skinny nowadays anyway!
Ironically, the bit of the whole day I found most terrifying was 'Animal Experience', certainly an experience if like me you are petrified of birds and/or snakes. The kids all seemed to be loving it. Me, not so much. I made a hasty retreat from all the heavy petting (no pun intended) and resumed pushing kids out the way for the rides.
That ferris wheel was pretty high up! An impressive view to take in... until you get stuck at the top and are left swinging in mid air only to finally reach the bottom and be sent around again. It's a bit chilly in December eh?!
As early as the 1880s there were rides installed onto the site and whilst not all are original vintage, each has its own quirks and charms that transport you back to the golden age of fair grounds. The Scenic Railway was built in 1919, inspired by the rides at Coney Island Fairground, and later classed as a listed, hence it's resilient stay at the park for nearly 100 years! Unfortunately, the rollercoaster wasn't running this weekend, oh well; another reason to come back... like I needed one!
Highlights included the '70s themed dodgems, with their overhead lightning crackle. Perhaps we were feeling a bit over enthusiastic (again, there's a bit of a theme here... I don't get out much) as we started smashing into each other much to the annoyance of the numerous families who were poodling along trying to enjoy their nice day out.
The Phantom Express is a restored 1960s horror trail around the dark and gloomy depths of nowheresville... not really, this one was also aimed at the kiddies but that didn't stop me hysterically screaming the whole way round.
As the sun was setting on Margate there was just enough time for a bag of chips and a pint... or 4. Well what are weekends for? Reliving your childhood whilst revelling in the joys of drinking craft ale apparently... responsibly of course! Until next time Margate.