Blackgang Chine, Britain’s oldest and most imaginative theme park has been selected for the Telegraph’s ‘Great British Business Campaign’ and recognised as one of the country’s most exciting growing businesses.
This immersive family amusement park, which turns 175 this year, is a British cultural treasure. Since opening in 1843 when the concept of tourism was in its infancy, Blackgang Chine has captured hearts and minds with exciting attractions that stimulate the senses and transport visitors to an unforgettable land of imagination. The ‘Great British Business Campaign’, organised by the Telegraph Media Group, celebrates small and medium enterprises from around the UK, who make up 99% of the 5.5m businesses in the UK. The campaign aims to showcase UK economic success stories and the diversity of ‘brand Britain’.
Alexander Dabell – current owner and a fifth-generation descendant of the park’s founder, with whom he shares his name – says the park is: “The Land of Imagination” and imagination is as relevant today as it was in 1843.
“Blackgang Chine is a facilitator of people’s creativity, and a place that allows you to let your imagination run wild. We recognise that much of our appeal is that we have preserved our history whilst changing with the times. Our challenge is to maintain the tradition of the park, to conserve what people love about it but to keep making improvements and looking to the future.”
“For 175 years Blackgang has created an environment in which visitors of all ages can create family memories and explore within our Lands of Imagination, from pirate ships and cowboy town to walking with dinosaurs.”
Find out how Blackgang Chine has been inspiring the imagination of children of all ages here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/great-british-business/blackgang-chine/
We’ve interviewed Jon from our creative team to find out a little more about the magic behind our brand NEW theme world, Underwater Kingdom…
What involvement have you had in the development of our new theme word Underwater Kingdom?
Underwater Kingdom was the vision of our managing director Alexander Dabell. He had a dream of creating a magical theme world where you could breathe underwater and immerse yourself into a colourful and stylized world under the surface of the sea.
Part of my role has been to help Alec and the team visualise his dream, and over the past year I’ve been working hard to bring to life the characters within the story. Our craftsmen are now working hard to help our characters take up residence in our new magical theme world.
Where has the inspiration come from for each of the unique characters?
The characters were an initial concept and from there we have applied the personality or a place for them to sit within the new world we are creating. We have a lot of creative people who work here at Blackgang and often discussions or meetings have inspired a new character. Other times I’ve gone away to sketch in our ‘Tech den’ and some of the characters are loosely based on members of staff here at Blackgang Chine, but I’ll keep it to speculation as to who’s who.
Without revealing too much, who is your favourite character?
My personal favourite characters are our two Piranhas who will be our guard dogs for a specific part of Underwater Kingdom. I’ve always been drawn to characters that are essentially cute monsters. It’s just far more interesting for a designer to take a creature that is in real life, normally deemed ugly or grotesque, and create a charismatic character from their unique appearance.
Why should visitors come and see this magical new theme world?
I think it’s exciting to see how the park is developing, seeing the breadth of history to the park, and previous iconic characters, I’ve often found myself looking through the original designer’s sketchbooks. I feel they have helped to inspire the new projects. We want to keep the unique and somewhat quirky charm to our new characters whilst bringing new technology, lighting and interactivity to the attractions. When the project has come together it will be a very vibrant and immersive addition to the park! We’re all excited, so we hope our visitors will be too.