Shipley Glen Dodgems

Bunkers, shelters and other buildings
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Postby buffaloskinner » Wed 07 May, 2008 9:51 am

Afraid the Park is now long gone, had some great times at the Geln with my Daughter and then Granddaughter in later years.
Just the Tramway remains.
Is this the end of the story ...
or the beginning of a legend?
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Postby D2G » Wed 07 May, 2008 9:34 pm

How recent did you go? are the dodgems gone too now?
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Postby raveydavey » Thu 08 May, 2008 9:36 pm

The entire fair is no more, according to the websites I've found.

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Postby D2G » Sun 11 May, 2008 8:00 am

The main area has been flattened where the arcade, glide and rocket rides were but the dodgems were located down the side of the tramway. I assumed that was still there

The picture is of how the site looked last year
__TFMF_gzxuwbzbxnvmjd452nk1tb45_6de1fefc-407a-4b68-ab3b-c4749710059e_0_main.jpg (108.59 KiB) Viewed 1316 times

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Postby BLAKEY » Mon 12 May, 2008 10:17 am

Just another of those occasions where "I could kick myself" - I've lived all these years only about ten miles away and never visited the place properly - did once ride on the tramway perhaps 25 years ago but even then didn't realise that there was such an extensive pleasure park. From the pictures the rides and catering appear to have been impeccably clean and smart. Ah well !!
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Postby D2G » Thu 15 May, 2008 8:36 pm

It was a nice place, i had a few birthdays there. The site only closed because the guy could get a lot of money for the land. Its a pity about the glide ride though as it was supposedly one of the oldest roller coasters in Britain. I think that leaves the scenic railway in Margate (Although is that there anymore?)

I am going to try get up there soon and see what is still there, last time i went even the tramway was closed
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Postby BIG N » Wed 28 May, 2008 3:40 pm

Trojan wrote:
Speaking of boat rides, there was a thread on here about Cockersdale Pleasure gardens in January but I'm blowed (is that allowed Regular Smiley) if I can find it!

Here you go Trojan -
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Postby Trojan » Sun 31 Oct, 2010 11:08 pm

I was looking at a site about wooden roller coasters, apparently there used to be one at Shipley Glen
Industria Omnia Vincit

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Postby Steve Jones » Mon 01 Nov, 2010 12:11 am

there are pictures and the story of this roller coaster in the countryside centre in Shipley Glen.Well worth a visit if you are looking for a day out.
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Postby buffaloskinner » Mon 01 Nov, 2010 10:00 pm


This film dates from Easter Monday 1912, when around 200,000 people visited the Glen, with around 17,000 using the Tramway. It was filmed as an advertising short to be played at the region’s fledgling movie theatres as a way of attracting audiences. A local film maker, Eric Hall, salvaged the original film from a skip. For more on Eric Hall’s filmmaking see the Context for Ower Bit Bog Oil.

Shipley Glen, together with the Shipley Glen Pleasure Grounds and the Shipley Glen Tramway, had been a popular place of pleasure for locals since early Victorian times. The Glen got its first tourist attraction after the closure of 1887 Saltaire exhibition when a wooden switchback railway had been part of the exhibition. Other attractions soon followed, including a giant camera obscura, and by the end of the 1880s thousands of people, particularly from working class families employed in the hundreds of textile mills in and around Bradford, spent their Saturday and Sunday afternoons on the Glen. There were countless refreshment stalls and a variety of traders plied their wares. It was also a popular spot for 'gypsy' (Romany) traders.

In 1887 a wooden switchback railway, probably only the second to be built in the UK and originally erected for the 1887 Saltaire Exhibition, was re-erected on the Glen and renamed 'The Royal Yorkshire Switchback'. This was purchased and erected by a Mr J W Waddington and ran until 1917 when it was sold for scrap on June 11th by the Bradford Auctioneers C W Bell Ltd to John Smith scrap metal dealer for £99. The Glen Tramway carriages carried 42 passengers, one set on each line, and the running time was 3 minutes. In 1889 the first cable hauled ride was built on Shipley Glen and was known as the ‘Aerial Flight’ (not to be confused with the later ‘Aerial Glide’). Only one photograph is known of this ride and it shows a huge wooden tower with a twin-line ropeway hauling passengers in a gondola high above the Glen (to a matching tower). It was closed and demolished in 1920.

In 1894, local entrepreneur, Sam Wilson saw the opportunity to make money by building a railway alongside the steep bridleway. Built at a cost of £2500, the quarter-mile Glen Tramway opened to the public on 17 May 1895. Hauled on wire cables powered by gas engines, a coupled pair of open topped cars ran on each of twin tracks passing each other at mid way. Built between 1900 and 1910 the Ariel Glide was the oldest surviving static amusement ride in the UK, and the only surviving ride of its type. The timber version seen in the film was replaced by a metal framed one in the 1930’s.
The Ariel Glide was open until recently. The Ariel Glide was listed as a Grade II building in 2003 following an emergency application by a local campaigner, Mike Short, and an amusement park historian, Nick Laister. They had to move very fast to get it through on time. But the following year, in July 2004, it was de-listed following a successful appeal by the owner Mr Teale. Shipley Glen Pleasure Ground finally closed at 6 pm on 4th September 2005. Although the Tramway has closed twice in its history, twice it has been saved and it runs today, the oldest surviving cable hauled railway (excluding cliff lifts) in the UK.

In the field next to the barn alongside Brackenhall Green (the barn is now a private house, and the hall is now the local authority run Countryside Centre) is the ‘Oceanwave Switchback’. This was the first large static ride to have been built on the Glen. After the closure of the 1887 Saltaire Exhibition, the ‘Royal Yorkshire Switchback’, a wooden switchback railway that had formed part of the exhibition, was purchased by local entrepreneur and showman, Sam Wilson, and re-erected on the Glen in 1888. It was probably only the second wooden switchback railway to have been built in the UK. It is thought to have closed in 1917.

The steamboat that pulls in by the Boathouse in Saltaire on the River Aire is the ‘Rose’, also owned by Sam Wilson. She is a curiously constructed passenger steamboat with a bow at each end (rather than a bow and stern) and she pulls into the boathouse. Owned again by Sam Wilson, ‘Rose’ takes passengers only a short distance upstream and back to the boathouse. Downstream travel is impossible because of the weir alongside Salts Mill. A very large rowing boat is waiting to be launched. Alongside the river are many rowing boats for hire. Although ‘Rose’ disappeared a long time ago, those Edwardian rowing boats were still available for hire into the 1970s. At the time Saltaire didn’t allow pubs, as its founder Titus Salt was teetotal, but the Boathouse is now a bar and restaurant. No boats go from there today.

Fairs go back to the twelve and fourteenth centuries when a twin system of chartered and prescriptive fairs come into existence. They became endangered both by the loss of town squares, and by the 1871 Fairs Act, which granted local authorities the right to petition for their abolition. During the nineteenth century they gradually become places of commerce, losing some of their purely festive spirit; and although, thankfully, some fairs have survived, this is perhaps at the cost of becoming overly commercialised.


Mike Short has been of immense help in compiling these notes, and much of the information here was taken from the Submission to Spot List the Aerial Ride, written by Mike Short and Nick Laister, in 2003. This also contains a further bibliography. The full text of this, together with much more background material, can be found at joylandbooks
Vanessa Toulmin, Pleasurelands, National Fairground Archive, University of Sheffield, 2003.
The Glen Tramway is still running, details can be found on their website:

Further Information

Michael Leak, 100 years at Shipley Glen: the story of the Glen Tramway, SGT publications, Baildon, West Yorkshire, 1998.
Is this the end of the story ...
or the beginning of a legend?

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