Theme park’s rollercoaster history as Joyland celebrates its 70th anniversary in style
For Joyland, the iconic amusement park that was a product of their marriage, it was a match made in heaven.
Horace Cole was an entrepreneurial engineer and Daisy Wilson was from a circus family.
It was her background in the magic of children’s entertainment which inspired him to create the Tyrolean Tubs, Noah’s Ark, Neptune’s Kingdom and - of course - the famous snails.
The rides were all built at the Cole family’s engineering works on Mill Lane.
And Joyland was opened on Easter weekend in 1949.
It was run by Horace’s son Frank.
Many of the rides including the snails and Tyrolean Tubs have remained unchanged through generations of visitors, allowing adults to feel an unbroken connection to their childhood, while other attractions have come and gone.
In the early years the park’s centrepiece was Noah’s Ark, which rocked at the top of a tall orange mountain.
Racing cars designed in a 1950s style sped around the foothills.
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Horace died in 1957 and Daisy passed away 11 years later.
From its opening until 1973 the park was run by Horace’s son Frank Cole.
The baton was then handed to Frank’s brother Rueben, who was also in charge of the family’s engineering company.
In the mid-1970s a seahorse ride called Neptune’s Kingdom, also designed by Horace, was moved from the Gorleston amusement park Never Never Land, another Cole-operated attraction, and placed in Joyland.
Around the same time the race cars at Noah’s Ark were replaced by rocket-style jet cars which remain there to this day.
The Ark was replaced in 1984 by the Space Base, an attraction designed and built in the shape of a space shuttle.
Every winter the park’s rides are removed to the workshop where they are inspected, refurbished and repainted.
But in the winter of 1996 the whole centrepiece was demolished to make way for Toytown Mountain.
Also new was the Spook Express, a children’s rollercoaster which travels around the mountain’s summit and rumbles into a dark cave where spooky sounds play in the darkness.
The jet cars still run around the mountain’s base.
Other minor changes have taken place, with some smaller rides and attractions coming and going, such as junior Ferris Wheels which replaced a kiddie carousel ride.
A mini Octopus and Magic Carpet also came and went and a Junior Skydiver now sits in their old position.
The amusement arcade on the beach side of the park was originally built in the 1950s and consisted of two rides - a 12-seat rocket ride and six boats floating around ‘Henry Hextapus’ in an enormous tank of water.
The boats were removed from the park in the 1960s and the rockets were taken to Never Never Land.
In 1980 the boats were replaced by a Jumbo Kopter ride and a few years later replaced by the mini Octopus while in 1989 the Octopus was replaced by a Major Orbit ride, which is still there.
One part of the park was once used as a video arcade and was replaced in 1986 with a Pirate Ship.
In 2003 the Coles opened an American-themed family diner next to the park in the Anchor Garden on the seafront.
The park is now owned by the third generation of Coles - Michael, Margaret and David.
Horace died in 1957 and Daisy passed away in 1968.
Rueben died in the late 1980s and Joyland passed to a third generation of Coles, Michael (Frank’s son), Margaret (Rueben’s daughter) and David (Henry’s son).
They are still in charge today.
The fourth generation are on the horizon with Michael’s son, Michael Jnr, recently joining the business.
The perennial nature of the snails and tubs drives the affection people have for the park.
And some visitors have even had their first date and later got engaged there.
Adults who enjoyed the park when they were children bring their own kids to the rides.
Projects at Joyland are ongoing, with refurbishments and improvements carried out every year.
The Cole family are keen to keep the tradition to Joyland running for many years to come.
Here’s to another 70 years!