Will history books have to be re-written after we uncover what may be new evidence?
It is reported in history books and on many websites that a Switch Back Railway opened in Skegness in 1885, being the first of its kind to be opened in the UK. But we have discovered evidence which may prove this not be true!
Browsing though a local history book. it says: “Robert Preedy, in his Rollercoasters (Leeds 1992), states that the first [Switch Back] to open in this country [UK] was the Switchback at Skegness in the spring of 1885.” Alarm bells were immediately set ringing in my head, as this date contradicted my own research which documents the Switch Back opening in Skegness in August of 1887!
Here is a photograph of the original news report of the opening of the Switch Back from the Skegness Herald:
The date of the report can clearly be seen as August 26th 1887. The news article states that the new rollercoaster opened on the Wednesday prior to going to press, and also that its erection commenced “only about ten days since”.
How strange, when the opening date in every other source I could find, including on the internet, is quoted as 1885!
The first rollercoaster of its kind in the UK was built in Skegness – what a sensation – what a news story – so where are the local newspaper reports of it? I meticulously scoured my personal copy of the 1885 Skegness Herald – particulary all the issues around springtime – and not even a passing mention of a new Switch Back could I find!
So what exactly is going on? Are we to believe that such a great sensational news story was ignored by the Skegness Herald and the Switch Back was infact built in 1885? Perhaps this was so and it was a second Switch Back that I have uncovered in my picture above. But the ground on which the rollercoaster was erected reads to be the same, both in the article I have discovered and in Kime’s Millennium book – where the Grosvenor Hotel and adjoinging premises now stand on North Parade, Skegness.
And what about all the instances on the internet which state that the Skegness Switch Back was built in 1885? Unfortunately, misinterpretations of a fact can spread like a virus on the internet, without anyone actually checking the original source.
So the mystery still remains – was the Skegness Switch Back built in 1885, the first in the UK?
I would be very interested to compare the original source of this information with my own findings!
Photos: The Switch Back Railway roller coaster in Skegness.