Dodgem Trouble

The Dodgems were the centre of a mini-drama in the 1970s, as mechanic Derek Taylor recalls:

“One day, I was in what was called Bay 2, looking at a machine, when I heard a bang coming from the Dodgem track. I looked up and saw two men in a Dodgem car and the car was on fire. I grabbed an extinguisher and shouted to the Dodgem operator, who was called Harry, to turn it off. When the fire was out, I dropped the extinguisher in a bin. There was water everywhere; everyone got soaked. We found the reason for the fire. Someone had a cigarette lighter in the car, which had dropped behind the seat. It had lodged next to the wheels, and was rubbing against them. Eventually, it had ignited, and went ‘bang’. And it happened on a busy day, at the height of the season in about 1978.”

The Dodgems required extensive maintenance, partly due to the fact that Joyland was not fully protected against the winter weather, as Derek Taylor explains:

“The place was damp. The staff used to spray things with oil to stop it all rusting. Winter snow used to get through the shutters and onto the Dodgem track. The shutters were old and did not properly protect it. They used to get a sander in to clean it.”

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Deleted Photograph: Joyland mechanic Clive Sunley on one of the arcade's dodgem cars in 1978. Photograph: Derek Taylor

Deleted Photograph: Mechanic Derek Taylor in the Joyland workshop in the winter of 1978. Photograph: Derek Taylor

Published by:
Skelter Publishing LLP
© 2006

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