Rise and fall of Morecambe’s favourite amusement park

Aerial view showing Frontierland, Morecambe. taken 1990's. from LEP archives
Aerial view showing Frontierland, Morecambe. taken 1990's. from LEP archives

Frontierland in Morecambe started in 1909 and ran until November 1999, with a final year consisting of only travelling rides in 2000.

The site originally operated as West End Amusement Park, Fun City and Morecambe Pleasure Park from 1909 to 1986, before being transformed into Frontierland Western Theme Park for the 1987 season in an attempt to defeat dwindling visitor numbers.

Frontierland in Morecambe.

Frontierland in Morecambe.

In 2000, Frontierland was officially closed down by Geoffrey Thompson, managing director of Pleasure Beach Blackpool and all of the rides, excluding the Polo Tower and Log Flume, were demolished or dismantled and sold on.

The Rattler was moved to the Pleasure Beach while The Wild Mouse (later called Runaway Mine Train for the new-look Frontierland) and the Chair-o-Planes were moved to Pleasureland Southport, which later closed down in 2006.

Unlike Pleasureland, Frontierland was never resurrected and the site remained wasteland until 2007, when three large outlets were built.

These outlets were positioned at the back of the park, an area that previously featured the Stampede, Tea Cups and Parrots ride.

File Pic - Frontierland Morecambe.

File Pic - Frontierland Morecambe.

Plans to build a shopping park on the site of Morecambe’s former fairground drawing are still on hold.

In 2015, Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, gave the green light to the £17m Bay Shopping Park at the Frontierland site in Marine Road West.

Morrison’s, owner of the land, also put in a planning request to demolish the Polo Tower.

Work on the former Frontierland fairground site was originally due to start in September 2015 but was delayed, the developers saying that “practical hurdles” had slowed down talks with retailers.

Frontierland in Morecambe.

Frontierland in Morecambe.

Telecoms giant EE (formerly Orange) were also using the 168ft Polo tube as a mast but the licence was due to expire at the end of January 2016.

In February 2016, Opus North announced it had finished a tendering process and would appoint a building firm to start work on the former Frontierland fairground site shortly.

But a spokesman said while there “has been movement with retailers behind the scenes” he was unable to give any names.

The former Ranch House pub on the Frontierland site was demolished in September 2016 months after arsonists almost burnt it to the ground.

The final part of the Polo Tower demolition in Morecambe. Picture by David Hodgson.

The final part of the Polo Tower demolition in Morecambe. Picture by David Hodgson.

The Polo Tower, originally known as the Space Tower, was built at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in 1974.

The tower was moved in 1993 to make way for the Big One rollercoaster and rebuilt at the Morecambe Wild West theme park in 1994 and opened the following year.

A half-million pound investment by then-Frontierland owners Blackpool Pleasure Beach, the tower was sponsored by Polo. It was originally a revolving ride and many took the opportunity to scale or abseil it in a bid for their chosen charities. But after initially proving popular it eventually fell into disrepair and stood on the seafront unused - other than for a telecommunications mast - for almost 20 years.

The minty tube was demolished in June 2017 to make way for the proposed £17m shopping park on the former Frontierland site.

Opus North received planning permission for the £17m Bay Shopping Park in 2014 but since then no construction has started.

B&M stores and TK Maxx, who were in talks with developers Opus North in 2015, failed to sign up.

Photo Neil Cross'The former Frontierland site, Marine Road West, Morecambe

Photo Neil Cross'The former Frontierland site, Marine Road West, Morecambe

Premier Inn and Brewers Fayre who were due to build a hotel and restaurant on the site pulled out of the deal in 2016. Morecambe’s 168-feet Polo Tower which was on the site was demolished in June 2017 and sent for scrap.

In November 2017 Marks and Spencer refused to confirm it would be opening a food store at the planned £17m Bay Shopping Park.

In October 2018 developers behind the planned £17m Bay Shopping Park on the former Frontierland site in Morecambe said they were looking at a “different line-up” although shopping will be part of it.’

Morecambe Superbowl which was next to the old Frontierland site, was demolished in February 2018 to make way for a new Aldi supermarket. The new 1,254sqm Morecambe store reopened in November 2018.

JET Ltd, the local company that owns both Jump Rush and Pleasureland arcade, who owned Morecambe Superbowl, revamped the site above Pleasureland in Morecambe and opened a new boutique bowling alley, Italian restaurant and bar called Soul Bowl and Vista Italian Soul Bar and kitchen in July 2018.

The future looks uncertain for the Frontierland site but one may hope that with a possible Eden Project coming, further investment in the town will surely follow.