Memories of Blackpool’s Monster Drop slide where kids ‘earned their stripes’

If you were a Manchester kid growing up in the 1980s, there’s a chance you holidayed in Blackpool and were one of many to take on the famous Monster Drop.

Located at The Professor Peabody’s Playplace in the Winter Gardens’ Olympia Exhibition Hall, the mega playground was a paradise of pure excitement for youngsters. Many will remember it featured rope courses, climbing nets, ball pits, space ride and the enormous bouncy castle.

It also boasted different play areas for different age groups across the four floors, with some apparatus being fairly tame. The playground was the one of the ultimate childhood experiences – but there’s one unforgettable feature many will remember braving and earning their stipes on.

ReadMore: Dry Bar: 12 photos of Manchester’s lost venue the year it burst onto the scene

The famous Monster Drop slide was something of an extreme sport for youngsters and looking back seemed fairly dangerous. Only the brave amongst our peers would take on the terrifying yet exhilarating slide and it wasn’t uncommon to see parents in a panic watching their kids hanging from the edge by their arms before they let go.

The only way to the bottom was back down the stairs if you bottled trying the Blackpool slide. But for those who did do the drop, it’s something they still remember today.

A Professor Peabody’s welcome board can be found in West Coast Cafe in Blackpool

At Professor Peabody’s Playplace, for around £1.75 per head, parents could relinquish responsibility for their child for a few hours while they chilled out at the cafe – or went to a nearby pub, the MEN previously reported. As you went in, a cardboard cut out of the professor welcomed you to the multi-tiered venue, which was later displayed at the seaside resort’s West Coast Rock Cafe.

The play center closed its doors in 2001, but it is still fondly remembered. To reminisce again, our sister paper Lancs Live asked readers for their memories of the Monster Drop slide and what they loved about Professor Peabody’s Playplace, which many from Manchester will also agree.

Many reminisced about the “slide of death” and building up the courage to have a go. Amanda Alderson said: “Amazing place! Was so so sad when it closed and my Dad made sure I was well versed in these slides lol!!!! I wish there were more of them!!”

Patricia Curry commented: “Took my lads there, put fear in me on that slide.” Melanie Smith posted: “I remember Mr Peabodys in the 80s.. I remember sat at the top of that slide contemplating going down. I was sat there for over an or so but I did not do it. I had a sore coccyx at the time so that was my excuse.”

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Clare Abram wrote: “Loved peabodies, used to sit at the top of the monster drop for ages, hanging on before letting go, it was a scary drop.” Pauline Gowers commented: “That slide was pretty scary. X”

Professor Peabody's Playplace in Blackpool
Inside Professor Peabody’s Playplace in Blackpool

Jane Humphreys posted: “Remember it well sitting on the edge psyching myself up, but once you’d done it was fine, loved it !” Keeley Mulgrew wrote: “Slide of death! I can feel my legs wobble just thinking about it.”

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Kelly Gainer-Bradshaw said: “God I definitely got stripes on my legs from that…put me off slides for life.” And Victoria Mellor commented: “Got a fair few friction burns on my elbows off that!!!”

Professor Peabody's Playplace in Blackpool
Professor Peabody’s Playplace in Blackpool

While the Monster Drop remains at the center of many memories, it wasn’t the only thing on offer at Professor Peabody’s Playplace. Margaret Moore wrote: “Went there when I was young, remember the slide, and moving stairs you went to put your foot on the step and it would go down. Lots of laughs, also the laughing clown outside and we would laugh with it, it was at the pleasure beach, going back about 65 years.”

Do these awaken any memories for you? Let us know in the comments section below.

Vicki Dunsmore posted: “Aww loved it there. I never braved the drop slide but was proud of myself climbing over the nets at the top of the roof. I remember the mountain with a rope and footprints you had to climb up and the inflatable tube maze that you crawled through that felt like a wind tunnel. Happy memories.” And Natalie Smith commented: “Lots of fond memories of PPB’s-the space ride, high ropes, photo-flash wall, piano path and the mega slide. Remember sitting at the top many times too scared to drop, but then getting some courage and loving it! was such an iconic play to play, along with Tarzans over wyre.”

Special thanks to the Facebook group, ‘I lost the skin off my arms on the monster drop at Professor Peabody’s’, which you can request to join here.

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Man walking through a field in an extravagant coat at the festival held at Bickershaw.  May 1972

Moss Side Carnival, circa 1977

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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