The first rides arrived at Alton Towers a long time before the Corkscrew came to the park. Early on in the park’s development as a tourist attraction, a fairground was added in the area behind the Towers where today you might find Cloud Cuckoo Land.
and many more..
Before the war, the area had been the site of the Towers’ extensive kitchen gardens and greenhouse complex, but during the war it was built over with temporary structures for the war effort. These buildings soon also became derelict and were pulled down after the park returned to its owners.
The concreted area left rendered the area the perfect place to set up a Fairground, which is exactly what happened a few seasons after the park first opened to the public. A good selection of rides featured in the area over its near twenty year operation, from the traditional, such as dodgems and carousels, through to the more daring, like the loop-o-plane that spent some seasons at the park.
The Fairground was operated by showmen independently of the park itself and so by the nature of travelling fairs, rides came and went relatively regularly over the seasons, giving the fairground the ability to constantly offer guests something new to experience.
The popularity of the fairground meant that after a few seasons its first permanent attraction was added in the form of the Funhouse, which had a giant vertical slide as its premier attraction. Later in its history other relatively permanent attractions were added in the form of an Astroglide and a large Penny Arcade.
It seems that ultimately the Fairground was a victim of its own success. The popularity of the rides can’t have escaped the notice of John Broome, who decided he wanted to turn Alton Towers into a full blown amusement park with a single entry price. This was contrary to the desires of the showmen who ran the fairground who preferred the traditional approach of charging customers per ride.
And so as the Corkscrew began to arrive the Fairground departed, leaving the area clear to become Talbot Street the following season. Despite having left over 30 years ago there are still very visible remnants of the Fairground of old. When building Talbot Street, the building that had housed the Fun House was converted into a theatre and is today known as the Cloud Cuckoo Land Theatre. Meanwhile the Penny Arcade now houses the Driving School’s on-ride photo point and Education Centre.