Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Blackgang revisited

The few remaining long-term readers may recall that, in May last year, I wrote a little post on the hilariously grotesque model dinosaurs of Blackgang Chine, an amusement park of sorts teetering on a cliff edge (literally) on the Isle of Wight. Happily, I returned recently with Niroot and, well, I thought that a few photos of us titting about with the dinosaurs might provide some amusement.

Here, Niroot surveys the perma-grinning head of the bizarre brachiosaur, one of the few models visible on Google Maps (don'tcha know). As noted previously, most of the models date from 1972, and presumably reflect whatever palaeoart the sculptors could get their hands on, which probably largely consisted of the likes of Neave Parker. Hence, weirdo lizard feet.

In fact, Darren Naish has blamed Neave Parker (all right, he might have been joking) for the park's Polacanthus, seen here taking Niroot for a ride. It's one of many sprawling oddities with body parts jutting in peculiar directions, but it has quite an adorable face. Anyone who asks 'Which one are you referring to?' will be summarily banned. BANNED I tell you.

Somewhat less adorable is this guano-smeared Hypsilophodon, which has the terrifying slit-pupil goggle eyes of a Jurassic Park raptor, and is about to bite Niroot's hand clean off.

Niroot can surely relate, then, to the plight of this poor baby Protoceratops, isolated from its mother and about to become the highly perforated prey of this scary...thing. There's no explanatory sign whatsoever, but I'm willing to bet that it's supposed to be a nothosaur of some sort (based on a hazy memory of another park).

Remember Stegoslug? For my money, it's the most hideous model at Blackgang, even ousting the sad-faced giant mushroom and Old Mother Hubbard (of bare cupboard fame). As you can see, it's also offensively gigantic, dwarfing Niroot with its hulking, lumpen, fibreglass frame. This, truly, is a dino-eyesore. Hurr.

The Triceratops is somewhat better, although its fangs-and-elephant-molars dental combo is a little alarming. Interestingly, photos from the 1970s appear to show this model without the fangs, which means that either they were added later, or the head (or indeed entire model) was replaced somewhere down the line. I write based on the premise that starting a sentence with the word 'interestingly' will make it interesting.


There's a Styracosaurus too, but unlike the Triceratops this mould isn't unique to Blackgang; indeed, it's popped up in several parks in Britain and, believe it or not, globally. There's even one in that creepy abandoned theme park in Berlin. Blackgang's example has the notable advantage of a wild paint job to go with the creative interpretation of the animal's anatomy.

Another model that surfaces all over the place is this Tanystropheus, which I neglected to feature last time - finally, I can sleep soundly at night once more. I'm rather fond of the paint scheme on this one, even if the model's boringly commonplace.

And finally...everyone loves derpy T. rex.

This is a grown man in a full-time job, if not quite yet with a mortgage.


  1. Oh, I don't know. Perhaps it might flatter my fragile self-esteem were anyone to be confused about which 'adorable face' is being referred to. ;)

    One or two readers may recognise that the last picture is a near-recreation of this illustration of mine, in which Marc is clinging to the T.rex's tail. The model being what it is, however, its tail is quite resolutely dragging upon the ground.

  2. Coincidentally Marc, I also prefer to start my sentences with adverbs. Appropriately, it lets the reader know how to feel about the sentence before he's read it.

    1. I'm not sure it's always appropriate.

    2. Unfortunately you may be correct.

    3. Haha. I know, it was an odd thing to say, but it was one of those occasions when I read a sentence back and thought "Interestingly? Oh, really?" Seemed like a good dumb joke at the time.

  3. When are you boys coming stateside? The Dinosaur Park in Rapid City, North Dakota in particular requires your commentary Marc.

  4. Another great post. I love these dinosaurs, I first saw them when I was a nipper way back in the 1970's (gulp!). Blue Peter featured them being lifted into position. There's part of one in a front garden in Chale.

    The Polocanthus is superb!

    1. I posted about Blue Peter's coverage of the models' transportation last year (includes link to YouTube vid):

      I'm intrigued that one of them has ended up in a front garden! There are a few that I remember from just a few years ago that are now missing, including a disembodied brachiosaur neck, the Dimetrodon, Smilodon and caveman family (actually, I remember those last 3 being there just last year!).

    2. 'There are a few that I remember from just a few years ago that are now missing, including a disembodied brachiosaur neck, the Dimetrodon, Smilodon and caveman family (actually, I remember those last 3 being there just last year!).'

      I wish I could have seen those. :(

  5. That park was very much a vital part of my childhood. I remember being taken there at the age of 6 (in 1979) and being in absolute AWE of the dinosaurs and just how big it all was. The Brachiosaur looming out of the vegetation was a particular highlight. I think they’ve cleared back a great deal of the greenery since then because my overriding memory of the place was just how dark and verdant it was. It may look terrible now, but I’d like to think that it was a major catalyst for my interest .


Trolls get baleted.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.