The History of Alton Towers
Many people know Alton Towers as one of the biggest and most popular theme parks in, not just the UK, but in Europe. It’s easy to forget that its name has a history and is not exclusively associated with the attractions in its grounds, so here’s a bit of information on the history.
Did you know that the Alton Towers estate originated back in 1000 BC!? Of course it wasn’t known as the name we have today and was used as an Iron Age fort on what was called Bunbury Hill. This was a time of simplicity where families would come together as tribes and built forts atop hills to protect themselves. This was vital in a time when politics was void and people needed to protect themselves from other tribes, especially with the arrival of the Celts in 500 BC.
In 700 AD a fortress was built on the site for the Saxon king Ceolred of Mercia and after the Norman Conquest in the 12th Century, it was converted to a castle. Hereafter, the property would descend through a long lineage of nobility.
The name Alton Towers originated from the ancient name Alverton, which meant hunting lodge. The earliest form of the building we see today was built on three floors and split into two properties.
It wasn’t until the 15th Century that the Earl, Charles Talbot, began to drastically change the landscape around the estate from farmland to gardens. By the 18th century, the area had 13,000 trees planted within it and the house itself began another transformation. The property was extended to include a library, drawing room and chapel, merging the two houses together and changing the style to Gothic architecture which was popular at the time.
In the 19th Century, the current owner, Charles Talbot hosted summer events and festivals including fireworks, clowns and balloon shows. This seems like a precursor to the current Alton Towers we know today.
Charles Talbot eventually moved to Ingestre after splitting from his wife, during which the estate fell into neglect, until it was bought by a group of local business men who opened the gardens to the public and began converting the property to include facilities for visitors.
The Alton Towers we recognise today didn’t appear until the 1980s when the corkscrew roller coaster was built alongside the Pirate Ship and Alpine bob sled ride. From there, the success of Alton Towers grew and expanded to include even more imaginative and extreme rides and attractions.