A big bang – then a ball of fire

Firefighters tackle the blaze at the fun house at Blackpool Pleasure Beach
Firefighters tackle the blaze at the fun house at Blackpool Pleasure Beach
0
Have your say

The Gazette’s front page the next morning led with the headline: “Night the fun died.”

Today marks 25 years to the very day a massive blaze ripped through Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach, destroying the famous Fun House at the attraction.

A pizza deliverer called the fire brigade just after 11pm, when he heard an explosion and saw flames. Lee Darnbrough, aged 20, of Marton, stopped his car outside the Pleasure Beach and ran inside.

e met a Pleasure Beach worker running out, who told him there was no one inside.

Staff in the seafront admin block had been evacuated by a firebomb scare just four hours before the fire.

The 55-year-old five storey Fun House, with its timber and fibreglass cladding, went up like a fireball, according to witnesses. Some superficial damage was caused to surrounding buildings, but the damage overall was estimated to be £10m.

Also destroyed was the “Laughing Man” outside the Fun House entrance.

Only the character’s head – which was being repaired – survived, pictured on today’s Memory Lane front cover being carried from the smouldering wreckage by a firefighter.

The monorail track through the Art Deco building was twisted by the heat and the cable on the cableway snapped.

Flames 100ft high, which lit up the night sky, could be seen miles away. They were tackled by 80 firefighters from 15 appliances. Firefighters from all over the county, backed up the Fylde units. The blaze was under control by 1am, by then no more than a glow.

The aftermath of the fire in the fun house

The aftermath of the fire in the fun house

The smoke later filled the South Shore skyline.

The flamboyant Fun House building had been designed by distinguished architect Joseph Emberton in the 1930s as part of a full-scale modernisation of the park.

Its moving staircase, steep slide and mixing bowl ride were enjoyed by countless youngsters – and adults – over three generations. Gracie Field even filmed part of her Sing As We Go movie there.

Its loss was a “sad day” for then managing director Geoffrey Thompson, who said the fire was the worst he could remember at the fun park. But even as the firemen were still damping down the wreckage, he vowed a new ride would rise from its ashes.

After the fire: All that remianed of the laughing clown

After the fire: All that remianed of the laughing clown

He told The Gazette: “A lot of people’s childhood memories have gone up in flames tonight, I don’t remember the ride being built, but it was a strong part of my childhood.

“Why shouldn’t we build the world’s largest indoor dark ride? If something is burnt down, it is burnt down and there’s nothing I can do. I prefer to think of the future.”

Valhalla, which opened in 2000, was built in the space the Fun House occupied.