Taking a dip in the freezing cold pool at the Carlyon Bay lido, the smell of the zip wire at Dobwalls Railway Park and paying a visit to the magic castle at Merlin’s Magic Land. These are some just some of things people really miss about their favourite childhood attractions of Cornwall’s past.
A visit to World In Miniature and Aero Park (before it was Flambards) also made the list – along with a host of other fun places for the whole family. I’m sure many of you can agree, there is just no place quite like the ones on this last nowadays.
We asked CornwallLive readers what attractions you missed the most from your younger years and you named the places you wish you could go back to. Scroll down to read some of your memories from attractions that helped to shape your childhood, but sadly aren’t around for future generations to enjoy.
Merlin’s Magic Land
This was once a free to enter amusement park in Lelant, near St Ives, dubbed ‘Cornwall’s mystical theme park for all the family’. The children’s theme park was home to the ‘The Dragon’ roller coaster and ‘Merlin’s Magic Castle’ ghost and was one of St Ives’ most popular attractions.
In 2003 planning permission was granted for 74 houses on the site and in 2003 it was demolished. Today the once magical site is a housing estate called Pintail Avenue and there is only a single picture documenting what once was. Although if you have any pictures, we’d love to see them.
New Cornish Riviera Lido
By the 1960s, what was later known as Cornwall Coliseum, had become a 2,620-seat concert venue with the main auditorium taking the place of the former tennis courts. The outdoor Olympic-size swimming pool remained in use during all this time and was also joined by a narrow gauge railway, mini golf and other attractions – making it the perfect all-round family destination.
World in Miniature
If you ever fancied a visit to Buckingham Palace, The White House, or Jurassic Park without ever leaving Cornwall – once upon a time you could do just that on the outskirts of Newquay, in Goonhavern. It opened in the early 80s and grew considerably over the years with creations that boasted an impressive attention to detail despite their smaller statures.
Dobwalls Adventure Park
By far the attraction that got the most attention from our readers was Liskeard’s miniature railway networks. Founded by John Southern in 1970, the park very soon became the biggest tourist attraction in all of Cornwall before it’s temporary-turned-permanent closure in 2006.
At first, it had only one miniature railway network but had a large green area where visitors could do all sorts of outdoor activities. Complementing the vast outdoor area was an indoor area that included an award-winning art gallery – and of course he famous Dobby!
The main attraction of the park was the 7.25-inch miniature railway network which formed a small-scale replica of two great American railroad routes. The land was purchased by a developer in 2013 and is now home to a collection of eco-friendly log cabins.
St Agnes Model Village
Another favourite was St Agnes Model Village, also sadly closed. There is something endlessly fascinating and, we like to think, strangely British, about the idea of walking around a world in miniature.
This one was particularly Cornish, featuring models of Truro Cathedral, Restormel Castle, Penzance Heliport, as well as various farming, mining and fishing scenes. You could basically see most of Cornwall in just the one day, minus the huge queues and traffic incidents.
Holywell Bay Fun Park
For many it was the best fun day out in Cornwall for generations of kids but Holywell Bay Fun Park, near Newquay, announced its sudden closure after 30 years in 2018.
The attraction, which featured water rides, giant slides, maze, battle boats and go karts is still sorely missed but today there are holiday lodges where the fun park once stood.
In 1976 Douglas Kingsford Hale retired from the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy and with his wife Audrey, decided to set up an aviation museum. On the 10th June 1976 the ‘Cornwall Aircraft Park’, soon to be known as just the Aeropark, opened its gates to visitors.
At its heart was the main exhibition hall, packed with aviation memorabilia, engines and air-frames. Outdoors there were more aircraft, the beginnings of beautiful landscape gardens and a kiosk selling ice cream – but only in the school holiday! Today Aero Park is known as Flambards and is still very much open.
The Last Labyrinth
A favourite attraction for visitors of Land’s End for years – The Last Labyrinth was a sensory show taking you through the history and legend of the place in a theatrical setting. With mist, drizzle and life-size characters making an appearance – four large screens entertained visitors as the story unfolded.
Where do you really miss? Sign in and join the conversations in the comments below.
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