• Mechanical pleasures: The appeal of British amusement parks 1900-1914

Kane, Josie, 2017, Book Section, Mechanical pleasures: The appeal of British amusement parks 1900-1914 In: Woods, Jason, (ed.) The Amusement Park: History, Culture and Heritage. Heritage, Culture and Identity . Routledge, London, UK, pp. 31-57. ISBN 9781472423726

Abstract or Description:

This chapter was commissioned by the editor to complement a collection of 11 essays examining amusement parks in Australia, Turkey, Spain, the US and the UK as key sites of cultural history and intangible heritage. This edited volume is published as part of a Heritage, Culture and Identity series, which explores notions of heritage in relation to tourism, conservation and the built environment for a highly interdisciplinary readership.

My contribution provides an early history of amusement parks in Britain. Taking the spatial and architectural design as my starting point, I use archive evidence to reconstruct the lived experiences and cultural meanings of early amusement parks. Using London’s first purpose-built park at White City (est. 1908) and Blackpool Pleasure Beach (est 1896) as case studies, I explore thrill-seeking as a shared response to the experience of urban modernity at the beginning of the twentieth century. The chapter argues that, rather than providing an escape from the urban spectacle, the amusement park offered a heightened version of its multi-sensory stimulation: speeding rides, repetitive mechanical noise, multi-coloured electric lights, transient crowds, uninhibited behaviour. Drawing on the work of pioneering sociologist Georg Simmel (1858-1918), photographs and plans of the parks, contemporary reports published in newspapers and journals, and more recent interpretations of cultures of modernity (such as the work of Bernhard Rieger and Lauren Rabinovitz), this chapter posits an alternative reading of the early amusement park experience, arguing that by the turn of the twentieth century, as the ‘shock’ of the modern city became rationalised and internalised, urban crowds were drawn to environments in which a purely emotional intensity might still be found.

Subjects: Other > Historical and Philosophical studies > V100 History by period > V140 Modern History
Other > Historical and Philosophical studies > V200 History by area > V210 British History
Other > Historical and Philosophical studies > V300 History by topic > V320 Social History
Other > Historical and Philosophical studies > V300 History by topic > V360 History of Architecture
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2020 11:35
Last Modified: 26 Nov 2020 16:22
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/4283
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