Great expectations for Dickens, the theme park

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The river is brown and pungent, the houses are haunted and the streets teem with thieves.

Charles Dickens's England, however, never had construction workers in hard hats and high visibility vests.

News that the finishing touches are being applied to the £62 million theme park may be unwelcome among literary purists, but Dickens World in Chatham, Kent, is expected to attract more than 300,000 visitors a year.

The complex offers a boat ride in a London sewer, a haunted house and a reconstruction of Newgate Prison. Children can get a dose of Victorian discipline in an 1832-style school, or enjoy a play area called Fagin's Den.

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