Broome Era Towers

Discussion in 'Talbot Street' started by OilyWater, 30th Apr 2018.

  1. OilyWater

    OilyWater TowersStreet Member

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    The John Broome era at Alton Towers was a very different time for the park, formed a lot of what makes Alton Towers a cut above the rest today and established in the public conscious. But also a time from which the park moved on from.

    It was the first big theme park in the UK, at a time when most similar offerings were seaside amusement parks (of which Blackpool was king). Although, after Talbot Street, the park seemed to quickly lose interest in creating themed areas & attractions sadly.

    The park was popular and well esteemed, great care was clearly taken in those days to create a good day out. It didn't hold back on thrills, while also continuing a sense of the place's heritage. It gave classic attractions such as Black Hole, Around The World, Doom & Sons, the flume and rapids, but also a whole lot of bolted-down funfair rides.

    John Broome himself was well known to have a giant ego and be somewhat hell bent on becoming Britain's Walt Disney. This gave him the idea of turning Alton Towers into a vast leisure park in the woods, but also limited the park into being continually compared to Disney (by intention). It only really became its own thing during the Tussauds period.

    Broome squandered Alton Towers in his final years of ownership, in favour of pouring all resources and money into the disasterous Battersea project. But you got to admire his determination.

    There's an interesting article written by his son on the Battersea plans here. His son says some very genuine stuff about the loss of entrepreneurship today, but ultimately it was an impossible idea and the building very restrictive.
    Worth a read (with a pinch of salt!).
    https://www.londonlaunch.com/be-inspired/battersea-power-station-the-lost-plans/

    In it, he claims that Broome's friends at American company LARC are the world's leading theme park designers (huh?) and that they created all of Alton Towers. This is not true, LARC did the original Towers Street and the rapids pre-Katanga Canyon. The best of Alton Towers was actually by Sparks in the UK.

    Discuss your memories of this era here!
     
    Last edited: 24th Jan 2019
    Posted 30th Apr 2018
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  2. DistortAMG

    DistortAMG TowersStreet Member

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    Interesting read. I would argue though that Sparks were not primarily theme park designers, they were attraction designers. The did not build parks, they built rides. The theme park designer usually comes up with a general arrangement and masterplan layout for the park, with general locations of where attractions can be placed or should be placed. It will then be down to the attraction designers, such as Sparks. To use the space given within their budget.

    It seems LARC are more into the master plan and general arrangement part of theme park design more than anything else. If they did do the masterplan for Alton, which seems likely. It could indeed be argued that they are the greatest theme park designers, as without them. Alton would never have had the exact feel it has, a result not just from the rides, but the calculated views and beautiful vista's that have been enhanced and heightened with great forward thinking of street, path and plaza placement. Amenities, as well as the most important thing. Rides! (or possible ride locations).

    Regardless of those pedantic irregularities, Sparks most certainly were the best of Alton Towers in it's early years.
     
    Last edited: 1st May 2018
    Posted 1st May 2018
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  3. BritishThemeParkArchive

    BritishThemeParkArchive TowersStreet Member

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    In those days, Sparks were masterplanners and designers of parks too, did quite a few over Europe, so were fundamental in turning Alton Towers from some gardens and a 'funfair round the back' into a theme park. (Moreso than Broome really)

    Sparks were brought in to develop Alton Towers after the Corkscrew was installed and suddenly thousands of people turned up expecting a day out!

    After Sparks stopped producing for Broome around 1982, the park fell back to installing leased rides without much regard for a theme park, until Tussauds took it on. LARC did do the original Towers Street though. Broome still steered the rides towards Disney concepts, which is why Around The World was a similar format to It's A Small World, etc.
     
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    Posted 1st May 2018
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  4. Sauron97

    Sauron97 TowersStreet Member

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    Keith Sparks, what a guy. Unsung hero in every meaning of the word.
     
    Posted 7th May 2018
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  5. Brad97

    Brad97 TowersStreet Member

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    What happened to Sparks anyway? Can't really find much on them.
     
    Posted 8th May 2018
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  6. BritishThemeParkArchive

    BritishThemeParkArchive TowersStreet Member

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    That's a story! There's almost nothing online but BTPA will shed more light on all that era soon! :)
     
    Last edited: 9th May 2018
    Rojo, Matt N, DistortAMG and 5 others like this.
    Posted 8th May 2018
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  7. DistortAMG

    DistortAMG TowersStreet Member

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    I am 99.9 % certain BTPA and Take Your Medicine are the same person. Not a complaint at all, just an observation from reading the writing styles.
     
    Posted 15th May 2018
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  8. BritishThemeParkArchive

    BritishThemeParkArchive TowersStreet Member

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    Our account is used only for posts relating to our research stuff which is run by a small team of people :D
     
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    Posted 15th May 2018
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  9. Matt.GC

    Matt.GC TowersStreet Member

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    Wanting to bump the thread a little bit as this era of the park is the one that intrigues me the most. Not only because there's far less info, pictures and footage of this era than eras of the 90's and onwards, but also because of the long forgotten memories reading threads like this suddenly trigger. I was very young during this period and have vague memories of my trips to Towers as a child during the 80's, but often mistake my memories of the park for dreams or associate them with other parks untill someone triggers it for me.

    I'm particularly fascinated with Talbot Street and its attractions (such as Doom and Sons) and where all this sat in comparison to the modern day CCL.
     
    OilyWater likes this.
    Posted 5th Jul 2018
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  10. Squiggs

    Squiggs TS Site Team Team Member

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    There is actually still a slither of Doom and Sons left in the backstage areas of CATCF
    [​IMG]
    Today the area where Doom and Sons occupied is roughly taken up by the area where you would disembark the boat in CATCF through to the TeeVee room. The doors in the Teevee Room are actually more or less where the entrance and exit to Doom & Sons would have been.

    Everything beyond these doors is in the new part of the building that was built for CATCF. In fact the back Great Glass Elevator is more or less exactly where the Gallopers Carousel sat when it first opened way back in 1991 (Doom & Sons last season).
     
    Posted 2nd Aug 2018
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  11. Plastic Person

    Plastic Person TowersStreet Member

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    Excellent, they can repurpose it for The Dungeons.
     
    Posted 2nd Aug 2018
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  12. Matt.GC

    Matt.GC TowersStreet Member

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    I would love to get behind the scenes of Charlie and see all the throwbacks. Aren't the old Doom and Sons and Around the World facades still behind the CATCF theming on the front of the building?
     
    Posted 2nd Aug 2018
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  13. AT86

    AT86 TowersStreet Member

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    I believe the TT and Around the World facades were removed when they rethemed to Charlie.

    But the loading platform and the ‘SS Toyland Tours’ is still there, boarded up opposite the Charlie onload. There are some pics around somewhere.

    The finale room from TT was stripped of most props but there is still markings on the walls that remain. :)
     
    Last edited: 2nd Aug 2018
    Posted 2nd Aug 2018
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  14. BritishThemeParkArchive

    BritishThemeParkArchive TowersStreet Member

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    The attractions down the Doom & Sons side of Talbot Street had their entrances blocked up and redesigned as facades in the Toyland Tours queue, but were removed when Charlie was built (youve probably seen that in pictures)

    But there are still a few bits of what used to be exterior doorways just bricked up, hidden inside the building today between the elevators and the boat ride. It's a building with a lot of weird history to it!
     
    Posted 8th Aug 2018
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  15. JB1985

    JB1985 TowersStreet Member

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    It’s amazing how that could be left like that

    Probably a lot of that sort of stuff around the park where retheming has happens you just don’t see it
     
  16. OilyWater

    OilyWater TowersStreet Member

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    [​IMG]

    Spotted something pretty interesting recently on old maps, a lot of routes now used for access-only were once public routes?

    Maps pre-Towers Street make out the original car park next to the flag tower was kept as a coach park and I guess was kept as a second entrance to the theme park. Today this area is all closed off to guests.

    You used to enter by car where the Staff entrance is today, drive behind present day Cbeebies and park next to where the monorail station is now. Then exit down what is today an access road, to the old lodge gate near Chained Oak B&B and out on to Farley Lane.

    It makes sense these were the routes in and out in the days of horse and coach, but didn't realise the old lodge gates were still used 30-40 years ago. Does anyone remember this? I guess the present day entrance nearer Farley was built mid 80s?
     
  17. rob666

    rob666 TowersStreet Member

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    Yes indeed.
    Parking shifted around quite a bit...parked almost in front of the sea lions at least twice, later on where the coaches park now.
    Brilliant map that one, and mentions the scary wildlife museum, near the Corkscrew, that gave me nightmares!
    Parking used to have about a dozen staff in white coats waving you in to an exact spot on the grass.
    Edit...you could also go a great deal further down the gardens valley, we never managed to find a bottom gate or fence.
     
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  18. MaxPower

    MaxPower TowersStreet Member

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    You used to be able to get into the park from the back of the valley (Illegally) before they fenced it all off in the mid-80s.

    Even today, if you walk the old railway line path from Alton you can see where people have snuck in by cutting holes in the fence.
     
  19. rob666

    rob666 TowersStreet Member

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    Or digging underneath it on the steep slope near king inas rocks.
     
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  20. djtruefitt

    djtruefitt TS Site Team Team Member

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    Seems like a lot of effort to save £50 (full price) to then have to walk half way across the gardens once you are actually in the park.
     
    Posted 4th Feb 2019
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