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Captive Flying Machines (100 Years): Flying for a Century

It is hard to celebrate the centenary of the Captive Flying Machines without losing perspective of what 100 years actually is.

A century ago, a woman would have expected to have an average life expectancy of just 45. Families would have between 15 to 20 babies, 95% of which were born at home. Many children suffered from disease such as scurvy and rickets.

But 100 years ago, by whatever means, you could go to Blackpool, walk the golden sands of South Shore and ride Maximís Flying Machines for 3d.

Indeed, this old-timer has seen many friends come and go.

The Captive Flying Machines have seen the construction of Scenic Railway, the Velvet Coaster, Rainbow Wheel, Virginia Reel, Embertonís Fun House and the original Water Chute.

None of these rides still exist. Many closed in due time due to the incessant evolution of the Pleasure Beach, Embertonís Fun House, however, was tragically destroyed by fire in 1991.

Overlooking the comparable disposability of these other rides, rides like the Whip (1914) and River Caves (1905) are still resident in the Pleasure Beach, but now escape the gaze of Flying Machines passengers due to the fact they have either moved within the park (in the case of the Whip, which is now next to the Pepsi Max Big One), or have been obscured by newer attractions since.

As well as standing the test of time, the Captive Flying Machines have proved themselves to be incredibly lucky, too. The Flying Machines have survived World War I (1914-1918), World War II (1939-1945) as well as the Fylde Coast tidal wave of 1927.

The Captive Flying Machinesí elegant simplicity at first glance gives few clues as to the age of this wonderful contraption. It is humbling to think that one hundred years ago, people were enjoying exactly the same ride, and that in those years the ride has only seen minor cosmetic changes. The largest change the ride has seen is the landscape around it.

Originally, the Flying Machines were on the golden sands of Blackpoolís South Shore. Since then, the Pleasure Beach was paved with railway sleepers, then concrete as land was reclaimed from the sea and sea walls, tram lines and gardens were built in between the Flying Machine and the sea.

Since the reclamation of the beach, the popularity of the Pleasure Beach ballooned, and to cope with this extra popularity, so too did the attractions in it.

Whilst the simple structure of the Flying Machines is now cast in the shadows of the Pepsi Max Big One and Ice Blast, these newer attractions further exemplify the age of the ride, moreover adding to the views as you fly amidst one of the most historical parks in the world.

Our timeline, below, should not only detail the rich history behind the Flying Machine, but also highlight just how old this wonderful ride actually is.

Underlined rides still operate in one form or another at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Dates marked by an asterisk (*) denote that this year has been approximated

1904 Maxim opens the Captive Flying Machines at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

1905 The 'Helter Skelter Lighthouse' opens adjacent to the Flying Machines

1907 The Scenic Railway opens and original Water Chute open (north east from Flying Machines)

1908 The Canadian Toboggan Slide opens adjacent to the Water Chute

1911 The Hall of Nonsense, a mirror maze, opens next to the Flying Machines

1912 The Rainbow Wheel opens, south west from the Flying Machines

1922 Noah's Ark and the Virginia Reel both open just north of the Flying Machines

1925 The Jack and Jill Slide, a massive high slide opens inland from the Flying Machines

1927 Bingle & Bob, an amusement park for children opens next to the Flying Machines

1934 Joseph Emberton's Funhouse opens inland from the Flying Machines

1935 Grand National opens just South of the Flying Machines. Tumble Bug also opens

1936 A Ferris Wheel opens south of the Flying Machines, just opposite the Grand National

1938 A second Ferris Wheel opens, adjacent to the first; south of the Flying Machines

1959 The Derby Racers open, inland from the Flying Machines, south of the Fun House

1960 The Cableway opens, running between the Fun House and Flying Machines

1968 The Monster opens where Tumble Bug was. Tumble Bug is moved elsewhere

1979 A new Water Chute ride opens, on the site of the original ride NE of the Flying Machines

1982 The Virginia Reel is removed

1983* A Huss Ranger opens on the Virginia Reel site

1986 Tidal Wave, a Huss Pirate Ship opens between the Fun House and Water Chute

1987* Ranger is replaced by Rainbow. Fodi's Fun House (*) opens in Cableway building

1991 The Funhouse is destroyed by fire. Superdome Circus (now Globe) replaces Rainbow

1994 Big One opens, running between the Irish Sea and the Flying Machines

1995 Egg Scrambler (Twist) moves to the Ice Blast site north of Flying Machines

1997 Playstation: The Ride (now Ice Blast) opens on the site just to the North of Flying Machines

2000 Valhalla opens on the site of the Fun House