Shipley Country Park was opened in
1976, covering the area around the old Shipley Hall, demolished more than 30
years previously, together with the newly restored opencast sites around the
Woodside and Coppice Collieries. Today it is a flourishing country park, with
cycle hire, walks and a Visitors Centre.
An early plan in the development of
Shipley Country Park was to set aside an area, comprising some 390 acres around
a 32 acre lake, for leisure activities. In 1979, discussions began between
Derbyshire County Council, the owners of the site, and a firm called KLF, led by
Peter Kellard, who proposed what would now be called a Theme Park. Despite many
objections, and a change in County Council leadership, which entailed a
prolonged court battle between KLF and the Council, the proposals eventually
developed into Britannia Park, with the site being taken on a 100
pictured on this page, promoting the
opening of the park lists the attractions which
were to be offered:
Concourse: Intriguing shops and tempting cafes, all set in a
classic colonnade - a marvellous prelude to the countless pleasures to
Wonderland: A world of
endless wonder for the very young, where their own special rides take them
through a magical land of storybook adventures.
Craftsmen demonstrating time honoured skills in a marvellous atmosphere of
festive fun and the blacksmith plying his trade on the village green. Just
a taste of our traditional British Village.
Fascinating Pavilions that bring to life the astonishing range of
ingenuity and achievement which reflects the British contribution to the
development of the modern world.
Arena: Sit back and
marvel at spectacular shows of every sort - military tattoos, sporting
events, dazzling displays and much, much more
Small World: A miniature
kaleidoscope of the richness and diversity of the Commonwealth, where the
British influence extends to the four corners of the world.
and spills for aspiring daredevils, with the spectacular catapult rides,
assault course, and amusements to keep adventurers happy hour after hour.
Well, that was the theory anyway!
park was opened on 27 June 1985, by Henry Cooper (despite earlier
suggestions that there would be a royal opening!) For just £299 you could
have a return flight on Concorde from Heathrow to the official opening! Weather-wise it was a
wash out, and as the season progressed it got no better! But, perhaps the
biggest problem was that very little was actually ready, and parts of the
park still resembled a building site. An early visitor was quoted as
saying that you could do everything worth doing in less than an hour!
On 9 September, just ten weeks after it
opened, the park was bankrupt, and receivers were called in. "The
Showcase of Britain" was kept open for the rest of the season, but then
closed its doors, and was up for sale.
The total debts of Britannia Park
were just under £9.5 million. Many of the creditors never received the cash they
were owed: Henry Cooper was still waiting for his £10,000 fee for performing the
official opening; the Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, Colonel Peter Hilton, was
owed £28,000 and had to sell his garden nursery business; Bass Brewery was
A major police fraud investigation,
lasting three years, resulted in a 14 month trial (at that time the longest
trial in British history) at Nottingham Crown Court.
Peter Kellard was sentenced to four years imprisonment, and the Chairman of
Britannia Park Ltd., John Wright, received six months.
The park was bought by the County
Council for £2.5 million in 1986, and sold to Grenada, who reopened the park,
under the name "The American Adventure" in June 1987. Grenada in turn sold it to
Ventureworld in early 1997. The American Adventure itself announced its closure
after the 2006 season, and the land is still awaiting a decision as to its
Do you have any photographs
of Britannia Park taken during the short period of its existence? If so, we
would be really pleased to hear from you - please use the
Contact Us page to get in touch.
The above request has brought these
photographs from Stan Durban of Croydon, for which many thanks. On the
left is the entrance to Britannia Park, while the right-hand picture shows
the old headstocks of Woodside Colliery, seen from the car park of the
Photographs of Britannia Park's and
the American Adventure's
railway form the basis of a site by Colin Peake - well worth a visit.
Last modified on
06 December 2012 08:59