Scaffolding has come down today (March 20) on the famous vertical sign at Dreamland.
As part of Thanet District Council’s restoration work, an historical lighting technique has been used to accurately replicate the colours of the original Dreamland neon sign ready for the imminent switch on.
To recreate the shade and warmth of the lights from the sign, specialist analysis has been carried out using black and white photos and written accounts to determine their original 1935 colour scheme.
The new neon lighting is just one part of the council’s phase two development of the Grade II* listed former Sunshine Café building on Margate main sands.
Using black and white photos, consultants ‘My Colorful Past’ volunteered time free of charge to painstakingly build up an accurate representation of how the lights would have looked in colour. Using a specialist algorithm, they dissected the shades of black and white from the photos and assigned them to the time of day it was taken.
To ensure as much accuracy as possible, the team then aligned their results to various other historical descriptions of the lights from that era, which detailed them as ‘yellow, orange, and steel blue’, to confirm the shades were correct. The lighting scheme was also developed in consultation with Historic England.
Cllr Lin Fairbrass, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: “Everyone is looking forward to the neon signage lighting up the sky once again and bringing a sense of grandeur and glamour back to our iconic seafront. The sign was a bold architectural statement so it’s only right that such care and attention has been given to accurately light up the past.”
Matt Loughrey, from My Colorful Past, said: “It’s been a pleasure to see this project come to life and to see another ‘real world’ application of colorization at such an iconic building.”
Bernie Morgan, Chair of the Dreamland Trust, added: “It is great news for Dreamland and Margate that the lights are once again showing the way to the park for visitors and residents alike. It adds to the nostalgic memories of all those who visited in the past. It also helps bring another bit of Dreamland and the seafront back to life.”
Restoration work, which is part of the second phase of Dreamland led by Thanet District Council, is seeing the building transformed into an ideal space for a destination restaurant, with a separate lettable space on the ground floor. An operator is being advertised for to run the top and ground floor of The Sunshine Café building.
Repairs to the building have included restoration of the original seafront elevation windows and the building’s ‘fin’ and fascia. A new roof and lift are also being installed. New brass hand railings, brass entrance doors, and Venetian plaster work to the ceilings and atrium of the foyer are being restored it to its original 1930’s design.
A switch-on event is planned for the Spring and people may see the lighting being tested over the coming months.