Blackpool with Fylde
Blackpool is a popular seaside resort situated on the Irish Sea coast. Visitors to Blackpool can choose from many different attractions:
- Blackpool Tower, opened in 1894. Ever since, it has been a dominant landmark of the Blackpool skyline. Inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, it is 158 metres in height. Beneath the tower is a complex of leisure facilities, entertainment venues and restaurants. Indeed, these include the world-famous Tower Ballroom and Tower Circus.
- North Pier, the northernmost of Blackpool’s three piers. In fact, it includes a small shopping and amusements arcade, a small tramway and the North Pier Theatre. The pier end also used to have a helicopter pad, but this was damaged in a Christmas storm in 1997 and collapsed into the sea.
- Grand Theatre, Blackpool was built by Frank Matcham in 1894. In fact, it offers a mix of drama, dance, opera, ballet and comedy including a yearly pantomime.
- Central Pier is the middle pier, and includes a large Ferris wheel amusement arcade and shops.
For centuries Blackpool was a hamlet by the sea. Then, during the 18th century it became fashionable for the well to do to travel to the seaside during the Summer. Visitors came to Blackpool from the middle of the 18th century. However, Blackpool remained a very small place until 1781. In that year two men, Thomas Clifton and Sir Henry Hoghton built a private road to Blackpool. Indeed, that made it much easier to reach.
The same year stagecoaches began running to Blackpool from Manchester. In 1782, they began running from Halifax. Nevertheless, Blackpool grew only slowly in the early 19th century. A man named Henry Banks developed Blackpool in the early years of the century. However, in 1801 Blackpool had a population of less than 500. Furthermore, by 1851 it had risen to over 2,500. Meanwhile St John’s Church in Blackpool was consecrated in 1821.
19th Century Blackpool
Blackpool grew into a substantial town in the 19th century. This was a a result of a new railway, which connected the industrial towns of the North. In fact, the railway made it much easier and cheaper for visitors to reach Blackpool. Interestingly, the first railway in the area opened in 1840. However, it only ran as far as Poulton in the Fylde. Nevertheless, the Preston and Wyre railway boosted the growth of Blackpool. In 1846 a branch line was built from Poulton to Blackpool. Then the resort began to boom. Another line was built through Lytham in 1863.
Meanwhile, Victoria Terrace was built in 1837 and St John’s Market was built in 1844. As a result, amenities in Victorian Blackpool quickly improved. In 1851, Blackpool formed a Board of Health. From 1852 Blackpool had gas light. Furthermore, Blackpool gained a piped water supply in 1864.
During the years 1856-1870, workers built a Promenade along the seafront. Then, in 1863 North Pier opened. Not long after, Central Pier followed in 1868. Afterwards, the Raikes Hall Garden opened in 1872. Finally, Winter Gardens followed in 1878.
Ten interesting facts about Blackpool:
1. In 1879 thousands of people descended upon Blackpool to witness the switching on of 8 large electric lights to illuminate the promenade.
2. Nowadays, the illuminations run for 6 miles along the promenade and are made up of more than a million bulbs.
3. Every year since 1934, the Blackpool Illuminations have been switched on by a celebrity, including Red Rum (yes, the horse!) back in 1977.
4. Blackpool illuminations light up for two months of the year (September – November). Actually, they are present throughout most of the year as it takes 22 weeks to install the display and 14 weeks to take them down.
5. In 2007 a laser was installed in the famous Blackpool Tower, which could be seen from 30 miles away.
6. Blackpool is still the most popular seaside resort in the UK.
7. The Blackpool Tower was modelled on the Eiffel Tower, Paris.
8. The Tower was painted silver in 1977 to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s jubilee, and gold in 1997 to celebrate its 100th birthday – no mean feat given it takes 7 years to paint!
9. It takes just 69 seconds to get to the top of the 315 foot tower in the lifts.
10. Blackpool is home to the world’s very first electric steam railway, built in 1885 and still in use today.
GROUPS & CLUBS
Founded in 1887, Blackpool Football Club, or The Seasiders’ club motto is ‘Progress’. It’s a motto that they have attempted to live by at various times in their existence. None more so than when they won promotion to the Premier League in 2010. In doing this, they became the first ever club to gain promotion from every division within the Football League via the play-off system. That is nothing compared to the club’s 1953 FA Cup win, when they overturned a 1-3 deficit towards the end of the match to win 4-3. It was one of three FA Cup finals the club reached in the 1950s. However, they only won it once.
It hasn’t always been good news for Blackpool, though. In 1983, the club finished 21st in the lowest tier of English football – their worst ever league finish. Financial issues at the club meant that the 2014-2015 season was nearly a disaster before it even began. Indeed, 27 players left the club before a ball was kicked. This left the then manager, José Riga with just eight players and no goalkeeper to play in the club’s first game. As a result, he was able to name eleven starting players. However, he could only choose from four substitutes rather than the usual seven. Unsurprisingly, Blackpool went on to lose the game 2-0.
- Sandcastle Water Park is the UK’s largest indoor waterpark, home to 18 slides and attractions. Indeed, these include the largest indoor rollercoaster waterslide in the world, ‘The Masterblaster’, and the first indoor ‘Sidewinder’ in the world. Furthermore, there are two new slides: Aztec Falls and Montazooma.
- South Pier is the southernmost pier. Actually, it lies slightly north of the Sandcastle Water Park and Pleasure Beach. Furthermore, it houses an arcade and small theme park featuring adrenaline rides.
- Pleasure Beach Blackpool is an amusement park with rides including the Pepsi Max Big One, which was the world’s fastest and tallest complete circuit rollercoaster between 1994 and 1996.
- The Winter Gardens is a large entertainment and conference venue in the town centre. In fact, it includes the Opera House Pavilion Theatre, Empress Ballroom, Spanish Hall, Arena and Olympia.
- Stanley Park is a Grade II historic park and gardens. In addition, it consists of a golf course, cricket club, sports arena, lake, art deco restaurant, model village and Italian gardens.
- The Imperial Hotel is a large red-brick Victorian hotel. Actually, it has hosted high-profile guests such as Charles Dickens, Queen Elizabeth II and Margaret Thatcher.