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White City – Julie Krentz-Griffin

The earliest home that I remember well was 1 Raphael Road, Douglas. My father would drive us everywhere in his beloved black Hillman Imp and later his SIMCA 1000. There would usually be 5 of us squeezed in as Nanny Leece, would often join us to help take care of me. As the smallest I was placed in the middle and would get squashed on either side as my Dad did his rally style turns around the curves in the road up to Onchan Head.

Roller Coaster

In 1973 we moved to Port Jack, just around the corner. However, with both parents working hard to pay for our education there was not much time to go together as a family and at 18 my brother’s interests lay elsewhere. However now I was old enough to walk there by myself with friends! Though not officially allowed to venture so far away by myself the joys of illicit visits were even sweeter than those with the family!

For me the ‘prize’ of White City was the Roller Coaster as for years I had to wait on the ground with my mother or Nanny, watching my brother and father fly round. Aged 3 I was finally allowed to join my father on this wonderful adventure and yes I do remember my first ride on the Figure 8 – what a feeling of freedom to fly through the air, up, down, round, leaving my stomach behind and…in prime place seated at the front next to my father!

That it was all about good old fashioned family fun!

Our small family would enjoy it together and when we had the wider family visiting from Manchester or Scotland of course we had to have a trip together to White City. The amazing Figure 8 – I grew up thinking it was normal for a roller coaster to have scaffolding; the ghost train that had a particular musty smell that added to its scariness; the dodgems where my father taught me to drive; the more refined Bingo circle where my two grandmothers preferred to play and yelled the loudest ‘Bingo’ when they won; the trampolines that I could never quite get the hang off; the long plastic slide that I think was a later addition; the go-karts that were the last thing to survive; the wonderful atmosphere around the stalls with various games of skill; the bright lights of the slot machines. Particularly the atmosphere at night when under a perfectly starry sky and a slight chill in the air my mother would lift me and whisper ‘tinkle, twinkle…’.

Neil Harrison

The whole family were devastated when the Figure 8 closed. That was the biggest emotional wretch. After that it never felt the same to us and the complex started to drift more into the shadows.

Of course as holidays to Spain became more fashionable there were less visitors to the island and a lot of changes.

I’m just really glad that I lived in the 60’s and 70’s and got to experience the seaside holiday fun way of life that used to exist on the island and that White City represented.

Do you have a memory of White City, tell us here..

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