Question: What was the first thrill ride to operate at Alton Towers during its amusement park years?
Answer: Depending on how you like your thrills, you'd be forgiven for thinking Corkscrew in 1980. But a few months earlier, in August 1979, the Alpine Bobsleigh was opened by the British Olympic Bobsleigh Team in the Springfield Centre.
The all-weather run boasted dual tracks, allowing friends and family to race their simple plastic bobsleigh from a launch station that was located on the site today occupied by Just Chicken. Powered entirely by gravity the bobsleighs were able to reach a top speed of 40kmh, though for more safety conscious guests there was also a manual brake that could be used to control the speed. The run made use of the natural slope of the Springfield Centre, snaking down to a lower station on a site which is now below Oblivion's brake run.
The Life and Times
By all measure the Alpine Bobsleigh was a popular attraction during the amusement park's early years, though the long lines could also be attributed to the incredibly low throughput the ride was able to achieve. Even so, it was something of a surprise when the bobsleighs were removed at the end of the 1986 season.
Whilst the ride's throughput would certainly have had a bearing on its closure, another clue may be found in the material the runs were made from - early adverts proudly stating that the tracks were made from asbestos. When the ban on asbestos came into effect in 1985, this more than likely sealed the attraction's fate and it was only a matter of time before the final bobsleigh would run.
But the story didn't end there... even after the run was lifted from the Springfield Centre, the track seems to have remained at Alton Towers for some time, piled up in the woods. Many years later photos would emerge online, apparently showing the final few panels of the bobsleigh track, overgrown in the woodland that surrounds the park.