A Theme/Fantasy Park with a rich and colourful history of smuggling, and few spooky surprises !.
Blackgang Chine can be found on the Southwest coast of the Island, nestled in amongst the cliffline of Chale. Its quite a strange place for a park on the cliff edge.
Every year part of the cliff network that the park is perched on, falls into the hungry sea below – lost forever !. ( and unfortunately its happening at an alarming rate over the last few years)
Even through the constant battle of rebuilding each year – with the park being rebuilt further & further inland – the owners still keep the park as safe as possible, while trying to keep as much of the original Victorian gardens open to the public. We need to go back at least the 1800’s to get an idea of the parks true origin…
As with most of the South-West coast of the Island, this place was awash with smuggling. Access routes through the cliff-face would provide easy entry down to the beaches below, ideal for unloading their wares away from any prying eyes.
If you fancy learning about the smuggling tales and shipwrecks around Blackgang, make sure that you visit the ‘ St Catherines Quay Museum’ – which is in the grounds of the park. As you can see above, its got a certain charm all of it own.
As you’ll see later in the website, this place wants its past to be known, and not forgotten !.
In 1823, Alexander Dabell – bought the land rights to what is now the park. He had the vision to build a beautiful cliff-top garden, that the Victorians favoured in those times. Pathways and steps where cut into the rock-face that led down to the beaches below. ( The last remaining original pathway was unfortunately lost due to landslip in 1913 )
During the next 100 years the park has been passed on, from son to son. Even today its still very much a family run business.
It wasnt till 1967 that the ‘then owner’ Dick Dabell, started to modernize the gardens into something that the paying public demanded from a tourist attraction. Nurseryland, Dinosaurland and the marvellous Frontierland where opened to the public, to much excitement. (thats Cowboy town to Ben !)
Coloured Lighting was strategically placed around the park, highlighting the beauty of the original Victorian gardens, and providing a late night stroll through the gardens. ( you can still do this today during the months of July-August)
As we start to make our way through the years to today, the pull of the big amusement parks is evident. A new Roller Coaster and Log Run proudly sit at the entrance to the park. Animatronics are widely used to scare and entertain the visitors to the Park. Make sure you check out Rumpas Mansion. As you can see from the pictures above – a haunted mansion, full of unworldly creatures.
But what about the ghosts ? – and it certainly has its share ! – Well, that’s a tale for another day….