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Nostalgia: All the fun of the fair – a look back at Manning’s at Felixstowe

PUBLISHED: 14:30 03 July 2020

Youngsters  enjoying a ride on the Big Wheel at Manning's Amusement Park in Felixstowe in  1971 Picture: ARCHANT

Youngsters enjoying a ride on the Big Wheel at Manning's Amusement Park in Felixstowe in 1971 Picture: ARCHANT

Felixstowe’s amusement park has existed on its seafront site for 88 years – providing family fun for daytrippers and holidaymakers for generations.

One of the rides in action at Manning's Amusement Park back in 1976 Picture: ARCHANTOne of the rides in action at Manning's Amusement Park back in 1976 Picture: ARCHANT

It was opened in 1932 by Billy Butlin – and is still called Butlins by some older residents with long memories – and was sub-let to Charlie Manning after the second world war when Billy focussed on his holiday parks.

Manning’s Amusement Park is a much-loved attraction and an essential part of a visit to the seaside, and many people can remember the heady days of the 1960s and 1970s with the huge blue-painted wooden rollercoaster – a feature for 40 years – at the entrance to the park in Sea Road, the big wheel, crazy house, dodgems, helter skelter, carousel, various rides for all ages, penny machines arcade and Gypsy Lee telling fortunes.

On the first day of the season – usually the day before Good Friday – local youngsters would gather in crowds to charge in when the gates opened and enjoy a morning of free rides. Charlie Manning would crack open a bottle of bubbly and watch the excitement from the roof of the main building.

The Manning family – who are looking forward to reopening this weekend after the lockdown – have adapted the park over the years, unable to compete with inland theme parks, to provide a range of different attractions. Today these include an arcade, indoor crazy golf, mini bowling, over 18s cash casino, and a thriving market with a huge range of stalls. Work is also underway to create a new attraction called Beach Street, using containers as outlets for a range of food and shopping outlets.

It was an annual tradition for many years that local children would gather for free rides on the opening day of the season at Easter at Charles Manning's Amusement Park on Felixstowe seafront - this photo was from the 1982 event Picture: OWEN HINESIt was an annual tradition for many years that local children would gather for free rides on the opening day of the season at Easter at Charles Manning's Amusement Park on Felixstowe seafront - this photo was from the 1982 event Picture: OWEN HINES

Tell us your memories of visits to Manning’s Amusement Park – email judy.rimmer@archant.co.uk

To order photos, visit www.eadt.co.uk/myphotos24, or call Diane Townsend on 01603 772449.

Mixed reactions to riding the rollercoaster in 1982 Picture: OWEN HINESMixed reactions to riding the rollercoaster in 1982 Picture: OWEN HINES

Majorettes perform at the reopening for the season of Charles Manning's amusements in 1982 Picture: OWEN HINESMajorettes perform at the reopening for the season of Charles Manning's amusements in 1982 Picture: OWEN HINES

Riding the carousel at the free rides day at Manning's in 1970 Picture: ARCHANTRiding the carousel at the free rides day at Manning's in 1970 Picture: ARCHANT

On top of the big wheel with the famous rollercoaster in the background at Manning's funfair at Felixstowe in 1972 Picture: ARCHANTOn top of the big wheel with the famous rollercoaster in the background at Manning's funfair at Felixstowe in 1972 Picture: ARCHANT

Every funfair need dodgems! These were at Charles Manning's Amusement Park in 1965 Picture: JOHN KERREvery funfair need dodgems! These were at Charles Manning's Amusement Park in 1965 Picture: JOHN KERR

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