Over the years I was fortunate enough to meet the great man a number of times, but these two moments stick in my mind.
2000 – Pleasureland Southport
At the official opening for King Solomon’s Mines at Southport he was personally buzzing around the ride making sure it was all to his liking. He was moving around some of the planters and decided the fountain in the middle of the ride ‘needed a bit more oomph’ and summoned some bloke to get a bigger pump out of the River Caves. Later in the day I shared some memories of Frontierland with him and he was clearly still troubled that they couldn’t make it work. I said it was a shame the park had gone, but ultimately they had done all they could and spent a lot. He was proud to have brought the Mine Train down the coast and given it a new lease of life and lamented “It’s a shame we couldn’t move the Tornado, we’ll miss that old girl”.
2002 – Blackpool Pleasure Beach
When they were pouring the pads for Spin Doctor, he was watching what they were doing from the Tom Sawyer. It was a bit of an open secret what the ride was going to be, but at that time, the code name was ‘WK2’ which stood for ‘White Knuckle 2’. A journalist was really hammering him on whether the project was anything to do with the then popular (and somewhat controversial) WKD alcopop, which ‘was fuelling the binge drinking culture’. WGT was quite adamant that the new ride was going to be sensational and “We don’t associate ourselves with alcohol”. When the journalist walked off I gently pointed out that the kid’s talent show was being hosted on the Vodka Kick stage. WGT wasn’t phased, “Ah yes … not to worry son, he’s gone the other way”.
We are lucky to have had a number of big characters make their presence known in the UK industry, but few have had the confidence, knowledge and enthusiasm of Geoffrey – amusement parks ran through this veins. Naturally, he was an inaugural member of our Hall of Fame.