The Catacombs Catacombs Model Gallery
Space City

Space City models

In 1977, almost all the models, props, costumes and drawings left from Space 1999 were displayed in an exhibition called Space City, in Blackpool, a seaside resort in the north of England. The exhibition moved in 1981 to a smaller location at the Pleasure Beach for one season. Afterwards, most of the exhibition moved to the Alton Towers theme park.

A short film of clips was shown on a monitor showing the effects in action.

Look-In photo spread from 1977

The exhibition was in the Golden Mile Centre on Blackpool Seafront, at the heart of the seaside town's attractions. It was a short distance from the Dr Who exhibition, which obviously inspired it (that ran from 1974 to 1985, and then in the Golden Mile Centre itself from 2004 to 2009). Space City opened on Saturday 26th March 1977 with limited hours in April, opening fully every day from 10am to 10pm from 1st May to 31 October (it was closed for winter). Admission was initially 25 pence, then dropped to 20 pence.

The exhibition was promoted in the weekly children's comic "Look-In" where Gerry Anderson ran a question-and-answer column. Look-In artwork was on display at the exhibition, along with entries to a Look-In "Space City Design competition", where children designed space cities. The winner (judged by Gerry Anderson and Keith Wilson, with Look-In editor Colin Shelbourn) was 13 year old Mark Craig of Holyhead. He won a visit to the exhibition conducted by Gerry Anderson in person.

Look-In competition winner meets Gerry Anderson

Mark Craig wrote to this site, remembering the visit in 1977: "Look-In paid for me and my dad to travel by train from Holyhead to Blackpool, where Gerry himself met us on the station concourse. We were taken by limo to the Winter Gardens where we then had lunch in the private boardroom. It turned out that my father (then in his 29th year of the RAF) and Gerry had both started doing their National Service in the RAF, so they had LOTS to talk about that!! As my dad's expertise in the RAF was air-crash investigation - and he knew a lot about aircraft engineering - he and Gerry spent much of the time debating how, in the real world, the Thunderbirds aircraft would have actually been able to fly (or not!)."

"After lunch with Gerry, the president of the Blackpool Tower Company gave us a guided tour of the Winter Gardens, and then the tower itself. We arrived in the limo outside the exhibition where the Look-In photographer turned up and took several shots of me with Gerry outside the entrance, and then inside the exhibition where my dad and I were taken around and shown everything by Gerry. We were allowed inside the rope barriers, so I got to touch everything and even sat in the Moon Buggy. My dad had his own camera with him, and after Gerry left us to go off somewhere else, we were allowed to continue going around everything where my dad took loads of photos. Unfortunately, when we got home, we found that the camera was faulty and the film had over-exposed..... so we got NONE of the photos he had taken. All I had to remember was the set of printed photos which Look-In sent me (and I still have), and some cards which Gerry autographed for me. Look-In also gave me a Dinky Eagle Transporter, and the Tim Heald book "The Making of Space 1999" (I still have them both)."

Brain The Brain Taybor's ship, Swift, Hawk, tanks and moonbuggy The Ultra Probe and Superswift, with pilot ship and Dorzak ship to the side

Visitors bought tickets from the small shop in the ground floor amusement arcade. The shop also sold "Space City" stickers and woven badges, the blue and red box stun guns and Space 1999 metal badges. They then took an escalator (marked "Travel Tube") up to a section of Command Center computers, in front of which Brian the Brain greeted them (it was not the voice of Bernard Cribbins).

Behind the models, the large photos of Moonbase Alpha and lunar hills were the original special effects blow-ups, used as foreground or background when filming alien ships or planets over the Moon. These pictures thanks to Simon Rhodes.

Deltan battleship and Hawk Spaceships FAB1 and moonbuggy Astronaut

Most of the models were in excellent condition at the time. A few that had been damaged were restored or repainted by Martin Bower especially for exhibition. The public could easily reach out and touch many of the models, and consequently at the end of the exhibition many of them were damaged or even stolen.

Sky 1

A number of models from earlier series were displayed in a glass case. Bower loaned an original Thunderbird 4 and Sky 1 (from UFO), with replica models of Thunderbird 1 and Fireball XL5 (when the exhibition closed, Bower got the latter two models back severely damaged, while the two originals had been lost). Reg Hill loaned the original model of Stingray. Thanks to Shaun Evans for the picture.

Images copyright ITV Studios Global Entertainment
Page copyright Martin Willey