Talbot Street Tuesday/Thursday (Picture Heavy)

Squiggs

TS Team
You can't keep a good feature down forever and so this Closed Season sees the return of Talbot Street Tuesdays.

We kick off this week with a stroll down Towers Street in it's early years and take a look at the shops that used to line the park entrance. Who would have thought that once you could buy a Gucci watch, a glass vase or even a chest of drawers during your day out at Alton Towers.

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Matt N

TS Member
Favourite Ride
Mako (SeaWorld Orlando)
I can't believe you could actually buy furniture at Alton in the 1980s! I bet that would have made for an awkward car journey home!

Out of interest, why did Tussauds get rid of this wide variety of shops?

It might also interest you to know that Towers Street apparently had somewhere that you could convert foreign currencies into pounds and vice versa back in the 1980s! If you're wondering where I got that from, it's from a Ladybird guide to Alton Towers from the 1980s that my parents gave me for Christmas one year!
 

AT86

TS Member
I can't believe you could actually buy furniture at Alton in the 1980s! I bet that would have made for an awkward car journey home!

Out of interest, why did Tussauds get rid of this wide variety of shops?

It might also interest you to know that Towers Street apparently had somewhere that you could convert foreign currencies into pounds and vice versa back in the 1980s! If you're wondering where I got that from, it's from a Ladybird guide to Alton Towers from the 1980s that my parents gave me for Christmas one year!

Yep it was at the top of Towers Street where the cash machines are now. It was walk in building with a counter for exchanging cash and cashing cheques (ask your parents what that was :p).
 

djtruefitt

TS Team
I believe the current coke refill station was also a Bureau de change back in the day. You used to actually see the small hole in the glass on one side where you would collect your money until last season when they refurbished it.


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Squiggs

TS Team
Yep it was at the top of Towers Street where the cash machines are now. It was walk in building with a counter for exchanging cash and cashing cheques (ask your parents what that was :p).

I believe the current coke refill station was also a Bureau de change back in the day. You used to actually see the small hole in the glass on one side where you would collect your money until last season when they refurbished it.

Both correct. When Towers Street first opened a Bureau de Change was (rather bizarrely) located in what is now the Coke Refill Station, but later (most likely in 1990) the dedicated bank building was added at the top of the street, where the cash machines are today. Until recently you could still look in through the doors and see the old cash desks inside, though I think they have now added frosting to the glass.
 

Squiggs

TS Team
These days we may have Galactica for all our space travel needs but did you know it was not the first attraction in the park to offer a glimpse of the universe?

Today for Talbot Street Tuesday we take a look back at the park's Planetarium, which offered guests in the 1970s a unique opportunity to gaze up at the stars from the comfort of the house's conservatory.

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DiogoJ42

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Metropolitan Line
Question: Those pictures that show a projector silhouetted against a red "sky"... It's clearly a different design of projector to the one in Oblivion's queue.

The one in those pictures is a single hemisphere "globe" with a panet cage. But the one we see today is of the "dumbell" design, with a globe at each end of the planet cage, for both northern and southern skies.

So either the projector was replaced at some point during the attraction's life, or the one in Oblivion's queue is not actually from Towers, or the pictures are not actually from Alton's planetarium.

(If anyone wants to geek over beautifull old opto-mechanical star projectors, by the way, please enjoy this link. )
 

WillPS

TS Member
Question: Those pictures that show a projector silhouetted against a red "sky"... It's clearly a different design of projector to the one in Oblivion's queue.

The one in those pictures is a single hemisphere "globe" with a panet cage. But the one we see today is of the "dumbell" design, with a globe at each end of the planet cage, for both northern and southern skies.

So either the projector was replaced at some point during the attraction's life, or the one in Oblivion's queue is not actually from Towers, or the pictures are not actually from Alton's planetarium.

(If anyone wants to geek over beautifull old opto-mechanical star projectors, by the way, please enjoy this link. )
Have you got a link to the picture in question?

I always thought it was the Cine 360's projector, but looking at the pictures on that link it clearly is a planetarium projector.
 

DiogoJ42

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Metropolitan Line
Sure...
These are the pictures in the TS Planetarium gallery:
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And from the same gallery, here is the one in Oblivion's queue:
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Clearly not the same projector!
I'd love to be able to name the exact make and model of both projectors, but sadly that's a bit too niche even for my level of geekery. I only found that projector website above when looking for reference pictures for a concept Lego model...
Wondered if it would be possible to build a planetarium. I got this far...

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...before I remembered that while you can build domes out of Lego, making a hollow dome is nigh on impossible. :(
 

Squiggs

TS Team
And therein lies the problem of the 'old wives tales of Alton Towers' (and repeating them verbatim). I guess I need to do some editing.

Putting together what we know, the Alton Towers Planetarium used a GOTO projector, which is the type shown in the publicity shots. The fact that there are two different shots of the inside of the attraction suggests that these are in fact shots from Alton Towers. I'm also pretty certain the projector was not replaced, since the 1987 guidebook refers to it as manufactured by Goto.

The projector in Oblivion is in fact a Zeiss projector (because I am willing to go that niche) and thinking about its size, it actually seems way too big for the space the Planetarium occupied. That style of projector seems to have mainly been used in much larger spaces, such as the London Planetarium. Interestingly the London Planetarium's Zeiss Mk 4 projector was replaced a couple of years before in 1995, though this also isn't the projector in Oblivion since that was gifted to the Science Museum instead.

I guess with that, one piece of Alton Towers folklore is debunked, whilst a new mystery unfurls - where was Oblivion's Planetarium Project from? Answers on a postcard!

It is probably worth saying at the point, it doesn't seem to be from any of the other cinema based attractions either The 3D Cinema was still open at the time, there are images knocking around of the Cine 2000's old school reel based projector and Cine360 projectors also do not look the same as a Planetarium Projector.
 

DiogoJ42

TS Member
Favourite Ride
The Metropolitan Line
Looks like I've uncovered a mystery!

As I said, my knowledge of planetarium projectors is limited pretty much to what I've read on that site I linked to. I got as far as "it's clearly not the Zeiss Mk IV from London", as that was at least twice the size of the one we see today. (I used to love watching that magnificent mechanical ant moving around during a visit to the old planetarium. It was just as fascinating as the show itself to a geeky kid like me.)
The digital thing they replaced it with ws never as good. They tried to do fancy graphics with it, but it was a monochrome vector CRT, so it looked like something from an 80's arcade game. Hardly cutting edge in the mid 90's.
...Still better than the dreck that's in the dome today though. :(

I wasn't aware it was given to the Science Museum. I wonder if it's actually on display or just boxed up in a warehouse like the Ark in Raiders?

So now we have a closed season quest! Where did that projector in Oblivion's queue come from?
It certainly wouldn't have been anything to do with 3D or 360 film projection, as you say. They are completely different technology.

The game is afoot!
 
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