Before Alton Towers

Discussion in 'Talbot Street' started by BigAl, 21st Nov 2012.

  1. BigAl

    BigAl TowersStreet Member

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    I read in this article about John Wardley's career the other day that Tussauds had planned on turning Woburn Abbey into their flagship theme park before Alton Towers became available and they went for that instead.

    It seems that John and a few others had prepared detailed plans for Woburn Abbey and I'd love to see them one day.

    Anyway, upon trying to dig around a little more for information on the Woburn Abbey project, I found this American newspaper that has been uploaded to Google which goes into detail about Tussauds before they took control of Alton Towers and abandoned their Woburn Abbey plans. I thought I'd create a topic on here and share the articles in case anyone else wanted to have a read. I know a few of you might already know all about this, but I didn't so I guess there must be a few others that don't know some of the things that these two articles touch on.

    I'll try and find other bits and bobs to post and I hope that if anyone else knows anything or finds something out that they'll post that too. :)
     
    Posted 21st Nov 2012
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  2. CoasterCrazyChris

    CoasterCrazyChris TowersStreet Member

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    It's such a shame the Tussaud's brand has been lost - along with everything it stood for it seems. I suppose it got to a point where they grew so large that it was inevitable they would be swallowed up by greedy venture capitalists.
     
    Posted 21st Nov 2012
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  3. BigAl

    BigAl TowersStreet Member

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    I agree, Chris. :/

    I'm sending a few emails around to try and find out more about the plans to turn Woburn Abbey into a theme park. Anything I find out will be posted straight onto here!

    :)
     
    Posted 21st Nov 2012
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  4. BigAl

    BigAl TowersStreet Member

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    I've come across another small piece of information that I've discovered as to why Tussauds didn't build a theme park at Woburn Abbey here. The part I'm on about is from 1988 and states:
    So it seems that Woburn Abbey would never have become a theme park anyway. It must have been a real blow for Tussauds after they'd spent time creating detailed plans for an entire theme park to go there.



    The only other thing I can find regarding this project is the extract from Woburn Abbey's Wikipedia page which doesn't really cover anything that I haven't already posted:
    This extract gets used a lot on various historical websites, so I guess that there sren't very many out there that know much or anything about all of this!



    Besides that, the Wikipedia page for the 14th Duke of Bedford, Robin Russel, briefly mentions his plans to turn Woburn Abbey into a theme park falling through:


    That's all I've found so far. Slim pickings! :/
     
    Posted 22nd Nov 2012
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  5. thefatone

    thefatone TowersStreet Member

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    Totally like to point out here that the Tussaud's brand was lost, with everything it stood for, when Pearsons sold them to greedy venture capitalists in the late 90s. Lost well over a decade ago.

    Good read though! :)
     
    Posted 22nd Nov 2012
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  6. DaveW

    DaveW TS Contributor

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    It's a strange thought that Alton towers wasn't their first choice of location for a theme park! How different would life be if they had been successful with their original plan!

    Maybe worth asking John Wardley about it at some point if we ever meet him again?
     
    Posted 22nd Nov 2012
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  7. BigAl

    BigAl TowersStreet Member

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    Just had an email back from Woburn Abbey and their archivist couldn't find anything there about the plans. The only other person who would know anything for sure that we know of is Mr Wardley himself, but I've no idea how to contact him, or whether I should bother any one else about it anyway?
     
    Posted 27th Nov 2012
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  8. BigAl

    BigAl TowersStreet Member

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    After I plucked-up the courage to send an email to John Wardley about this project, this is what he had to say about the Woburn Abbey proposal and a couple of other ideas that Tussads had before they acquired Alton Towers:

    Thanks, John! :D
     
    Posted 28th Nov 2012
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  9. Alastair

    Alastair TS Forum Team Team Member

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    Very interesting how events unfolded. The Battersea project looks to have been the catalyst for the sale of Alton Towers and its transformation into what we see today. Very ironic that something drawing resources away at the time has in the long run benefited the place more than ever could have been imagined ;)
     
    Posted 28th Nov 2012
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  10. TheMan

    TheMan TowersStreet Member

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    PLANNERS!!!!!


    JOBSWORTHS!!!!!

    Get a proper job and stop ruining everyone elses!!!

    ;D

    It does confirm the discussions in the Chessie thread though. That once again, being serious, it is PLANNERS who should actually be called...

    SCUPPERERS.

    /Rant
     
  11. BigAl

    BigAl TowersStreet Member

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    Hahaha, woooaah, steady on there! :p

    It is a shame that the planners wouldn't budge at all with them. They could have at least made a small theme park with a Safari park but perhaps that would have prevented them from getting Alton Towers anyway?

    Maybe one day in the future someone will be able to take Woburn a little furtherer? West Midlands always strikes me as the sort of place that could really benefit with this sort of plan. I could really see the place being the UK's answer to Busch Gardens Africa! :L



    Ah well, unless there are any other documents floating around, I guess I can say that the case is closed here! :p
     
  12. TheMan

    TheMan TowersStreet Member

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    Great research Al,

    The Safari Park is my closest park by far. I pass it regularly, but have only been there a couple of times - because once you have done it, I don't know, it's a bit "meh" really.

    However, some of the memories I have from there are hilarious, not least a giraffe poking it's head through the sunroof, and being chased by angry "bambi's"!

    It is a cracking little park, that is also great value given what their spend must be! If that had been attached to Drayton Manor (you get the point), they'd have been onto a winner my friend for sure.

    I doubt AT would be the No1 theme park.

    I wish it nothing but success, and I'd love to see it developed more!

    (By the way, I was more referring to Chessie planners as we've discussed before lol).

    So my point stands.... JOBSWORTHS!!

    ;D
     
  13. DaveW

    DaveW TS Contributor

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    I've always though this for years! Every time I get a train out of Waterloo and see the battersea sat there I always think about how that olace is responsible for giving us the resort we see today, I feel a pilgrimage is in order! Haha. As that ace is th Ernest thing that ever happened no Alton towers!
     
    Posted 6th Dec 2012
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  14. Badgy

    Badgy TowersStreet Member

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    Whilst I agree to a point, we should remember that without the planning restrictions that are in place at Alton Towers we would probably not have the likes of Nemesis. John Wardley himself has stated that the restrictions caused him to think out of the box and create experiences that fitted within the regulations.

    Maybe now that Alton Towers has grown to be such a large part of the local economy, some of these restrictions are relaxed or boundaries pushed, but rather than leading to innovation actually lead to some laziness in attraction design.

    Badgy
     
    Posted 6th Dec 2012
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