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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Denise Evans & Andrew Bardsley

Fascinating history of Blackpool's Big Dipper as it turns 100

One of Blackpool Pleasure Beach's most iconic attractions celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Thrill seekers have enjoyed the Big Dipper since 1923, with thousands of tourists having flocked from Greater Manchester to the Lancashire seaside town every year.

While plenty of new modern attractions have been added at the Pleasure Beach, the Big Dipper is still a favourite for punters as well as the many celebrities who have been on the ride, Lancs Live reports. Hollywood icon Diana Dors, American ambassador John Hey, HG Wells and more recently Harry Hill, Julie Walters, Robbie Williams, Olly Murs, Wayne Rooney and Mario Balotelli, have all experienced its 3,295ft long track, which also offers stunning views of the Blackpool coastline.

A host of events are planned for later year to celebrate the Big Dipper's centenary, with more information set to be unveiled soon. The Big Dipper is the oldest continually operating rollercoaster in the UK, and first opened to the public on August 23, 1923 when it cost just one shilling to ride. Today, it can carry 840 riders per hour and the ride lasts an impressive three minutes.

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It has survived a world war and a serious fire in 1975, in which it was severally damaged. Intermittent improvements have taken place on the attraction over the years, including the grab rails being replaced in 2014.

Hollywood icon Diana Dors is among the celebrities to have been on the ride (Blackpool Pleasure Beach Archives)

More than 200 contractors were used to build the roller-coaster, including Lancashire firms. Accrington's Pilkington Brothers crafted its ropes and pulleys, while J Holden made the ride's prints and Fleetwood Trawlers.

Robbie Williams rides the Big Dipper (Shirlaine Forrest)

The original idea for the Big Dipper came from Chicago-based John Miller and Harry Baker, who had been making significant advances in rollercoaster since 1914. British architect Joseph Emberton designed the famous ride station.

Fire ravaged the attraction (Blackpool Pleasure Beach Archives)

In 1973 the Big Dipper, which was built by William Strickler at a cost of just £25,000, was classed as public transport which resulted in a surcharge of 15p for each ride. Pleasure Beach owner William Bean later acquired the UK rights and made the course much steeper, faster and with tighter bends.

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