University academics contribute to the restored Dreamland Park
17 June 2015
In the lead up to the reopening of Dreamland, the oldest surviving amusement park in Great Britain, Canterbury Christ Church University academics have undertaken research that recognises the cultural significance of seaside holidays and amusement parks.
Working in collaboration with The Dreamland Trust , three of the University’s Media, Art and Design academics have worked on a number of projects to document and restore critical artefacts related to the Dreamland Amusement Park.
Dr Alan Meades
Dr Alan Meades is the Programme Director for Graphic Design at the University and has a particular research interest in videogames, misrule and play cultures. Through visiting the ruins of the Dreamland site pre-restoration, he has rediscovered, archived and restored the only known functional example of one of the rarest arcade games in the world. It will now be part of the vintage Dreamland arcade when it opens later this week, to be played and enjoyed for many more years.
Through his research Dr Meades discovered two heavily vandalised Street Fighter 2 Ken Sei Mogura arcade machines on the derelict site. During his research and restoration it became apparent that this game, a mix between a Street Fighter 2 fighting game and a ‘whac-a-mole’ machine, was missing from the historic record.
Gaming archives, such as MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) held no records or information about Ken Sei Mogura and the assumption was that it had become a lost game and the only previously known examples were disposed from Japanese arcades a decade ago.
Dr Alan Meades explained: “When I looked on the official records to find information about Ken Sei Mogura , I was shocked to find that there was no known existence of the game.
Street Fighter 2 Ken Sei Mogura
“Despite the efforts of an international team of arcade enthusiasts who have visited and catalogued almost every existing arcade around the world, nobody had found Ken Sei Mogura , nobody knew how the game worked, and most importantly nobody had been able to digitally archive its code to be emulated and studied at a later date. When I realised this I felt a duty to preserve and restore the game, and University and the Dreamland Trust understood that.
“ Street Fighter 2 has been really important in my life, the research that I do about gaming and play cultures was probably motivated by my history of playing Street Fighter 2 in seaside arcades as an adolescent.”
Video-gaming experts believe that Street Fighter 2 was the pinnacle of 1990s arcade game play and technology, and communities of players became established with their own ways of playing, rules and hierarchies on these games housed in arcades, cafes and chip-shops.
Dr Meades, continued: “I am thrilled that visitors of the new Dreamland Park will be able to play the restored Ken Sei Mogura game and I am proud that the University is supporting this kind of work.”
In addition to the collaborative work Dr Meades has undertaken with The Dreamland Trust , Rob Ball, Programme Director of Photography and Dr Karen Shepherdson, Principal Lecturer in Photography at the University, have also been involved in the Dreamland project.
A tintype in the Dreamland Project by Rob Ball
Rob Ball has been visiting the site over the past year as part of a photographic research project, Dreamlands , recording the dereliction, reconstruction and resurrection of the amusement park.
Dreamlands is a body of tintypes that attempts to engage with the history of the amusement park and develop some form of physical connection to the space in which it stands. Rob Ball’s work will exhibit at the Photographers’ Gallery, London, from 16 June to 2 August 2015.
Rob Ball, said: “I have childhood memories of going to Dreamland as a boy and noting its decline and state of disrepair even then. Having spent the past two years in the space, I do feel this series has become about restoration and the restorative.
“Our image of Margate is one of repair rather than a renaissance, something that was broken and slowly being put back together again. This, I think, is echoed in my own work, where cracks, dust, the materiality and vulnerability of each plate is tangible.”
Dr Karen Shepherdson, is also the Director of the South East Archive of Seaside Photography (SEAS) at the University and has worked alongside The Dreamland Trust to create an impressive archive of historic photographs taken at the amusement park in the 1900s.
Dr Shepherdson’s research focuses on archiving photographs that were taken by commercial seaside photographers’ throughout the last century and digitising these to preserve the bygone years and prevent them being lost forever.
Dr Shepherdson, said: “These commercial seaside photographers have been long overlooked, but the images made and the memories shaped by their work has evident impact on the UK’s coastal communities and cultures.”
The Dreamland project plays a significant role in community engagement, education, training, sustainable employment and boosting the local economy. It is also a major component in the continued regeneration of Margate, spearheaded by Turner Contemporary in 2011.
Dreamland Amusement Park is due to open on Friday 19 th June after an 11 year Save Dreamland campaign. For more information about Dreamland , visit: http://www.dreamland.co.uk
Notes to Editor
Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.
With almost 18,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.
- 97% of our UK graduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
- We are the number one choice for local people looking to study at university in Kent (2013 UCAS).
- We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.
*2012/13 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey