New £18m rollercoaster planned for Alton Towers

Alton Towers, a theme park based in Staffordshire, UK, is planning to build its biggest ride yet at a cost of £18m.

The new rollercoaster is claimed to be the first of its kind, and promises thrills for adrenalin junkies. It currently has the codename SW7 (Secret Weapon 7), and although its construction is yet to begin, it is expected to be ready for the opening of Alton Tower’s new season in March next year.

SW7 claims several impressive statistics, including a highest drop of 98 feet, a maximum speed of 52 mph and a duration of 2 minutes and 45 seconds, which is longer than any of the theme park’s current rides. The park’s owners also claim a ‘world’s first’ feature for the new ride, but are refusing to reveal any more details of it at this point in time. They did however say that The Sanctuary, a new attraction that has already opened at the park, offers curious guests a taste of what is to come.

Alton Towers head of consumer marketing, Katherine Duckworth, was reported in the Daily Mail, saying, ‘Details of the new ride coming to the theme park in 2013 are still a closely-guarded secret but we know that people are hugely excited about its arrival and want a hint of what is to come. The Sanctuary is set to make Scarefest more terrifying than ever, and give our guests the chance to experience a preview of our new ride before it opens to the public in March.’

Alton Towers’ existing thrill rides include Nemesis and Rita, Queen of Speed.

Britain’s Oldest Roller Coaster Given Grade II* Listing

Britain’s oldest roller coaster, the Scenic Railway at Dreamland, Margate, has had its listing upgraded to Grade II* on the advice of English Heritage.

The Scenic Railway, which was built in 1920 by John Henry Iles for his new American-style amusement park, is the oldest surviving roller coaster in Britain and is among the five oldest in the world. Despite historic and recent fire damage, the integrity of the design remains.

Scenic railways are amongst the earlier types of roller coaster design and the one at Dreamland is an internationally important surviving example of this technology and an evocative aspect of the seaside heritage of Margate, one of the earliest and foremost English seaside resorts.

Thirty one Scenic Railways were built in Britain between the first example (the Velvet Coaster at Blackpool in 1907) and the last, in 1938. Dreamland’s Scenic Railway is the older of only two remaining in Britain, the other, at Great Yarmouth, dates from 1932.

Emily Gee, Designation Team Leader for the South East, said: “Listing in a higher grade is reserved for a small proportion of designated places nationally. In spite of alteration and replacement to this remarkable timber structure, its age, rarity and design interest mean that listing in Grade II* is fully warranted. Alongside the Grade II* cinema and Grade II menagerie at Dreamland, the remarkable heritage context of Margate is clear.”

English Heritage is working closely with the site owner, the Dreamland Trust and Thanet District Council to secure a long-term future for the Dreamland site and restoration of the Scenic Railway as a working roller coaster.