Romantic rollercoaster as Pleasure Beach hits 100

It's not just thrill-seekers who make for Norfolk's oldest amusement park.

It's not just thrill-seekers who make for Norfolk's oldest amusement park.

As Yarmouth's Pleasure Beach prepares for its centenary next month, managing director Albert Jones revealed it has also become the place for rollercoaster romance.

He said: 'There are countless examples of people who come here on holiday, meet their partners at the Pleasure Beach and then come back after they are married. And we have got at least 10 couples on the staff for whom romance only blossomed after they started work here.'

Deputy general manager John Duffell, 50, who started full-time at the park in 1981, has just celebrated his silver wedding after first meeting his wife Deborah while she was working at a catering outlet at the Pleasure Beach.

Rollercoaster brakeman Richard Gilson, 23, and Melanie Smith, 20, who works in the rollercoaster photo booth, also fell under Cupid's spell at the park.

'On her first day she was cold and I lent her my coat,' said Mr Gilson.

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Mr Jones, whose grandfather Albert Botton bought the park in the 1950s, plans to mark its centenary on July 31 with an evening of cut-price fares and an exhibition of old photos and memorabilia.

Mayor Tony Smith will also be invited along with other councillors to take a ride on the 70-year-old rollercoaster, which remains the park's most popular ride.

The story began when Charles B Cochran persuaded the then town council to lease him a small area of sand dunes on South Denes for an amusement park in 1909.

Now, 100 years on, the Pleasure Beach attracts more than one million visitors a year, making it one of Britain's top tourist attractions.

Mr Jones, who took over as managing director from his father Jimmy 10 years ago, said it was the mix of traditional and newer rides that gave the park its special atmosphere.

He said: 'The biggest pleasure, and it happens a lot, is when someone comes up and says what a fantastic day they have had. It is magic to see kids with smiles all over their faces.'