The 'godawful' British seaside town that began life as a posh Victorian resort

the 'godawful' british seaside town that began life as a posh victorian resort

blackpool travel holiday – Getty

Perhaps it was the sultry heatwave at the end of July and the cloud-free, brilliant blue sky. Or that it was a Saturday after a busy working week, and I was visiting with an old friend. Or that there was a particular buzz in the air, because the Commonwealth torch was arriving in the afternoon, and thousands of Rangers fans had descended for a friendly match against the Seasiders.

Or perhaps it was just Blackpool, being itself – and a lot more exciting, more enthralling, and more aesthetically pleasing than I remembered.

Because that’s the thing with Blackpool – we share collective memories of it as a nation and, for those of us who grew up in Lancashire, personal recollections of childhood visits, too. Between the halcyon days of the latter and the reflexive moroseness of middle age, not every foray will match the wonderful warmth of the best family holiday. But, sometimes, Blackpool can, still, surprise.

One thing that I couldn’t fail to notice on that sun-baked Saturday – Blackpool was busy. A recent survey by Place Informatics, which monitors footfall, recorded 11.5 million visitors to Blackpool in the 12 months to June 2022 – an increase of 5.2 million on the previous year. This positions Blackpool ahead of all British seaside resorts except Brighton and, marginally, Bournemouth, both of which are in the relatively wealthy, densely populated southeast.

Yet, we are continually told the British seaside is rundown and/or grim, and that Blackpool, in particular, is a health and crime blackspot and one of the worst places to live – or as Tory MP Heather Wheeler subtly put it, “godawful”.

Something doesn’t quite add up – or does it?

the 'godawful' british seaside town that began life as a posh victorian resort

blackpool seaside holiday

Blackpool was a humble sea-bathing spot in the 1770s, but only grew into a substantial resort 100 years later, long after Scarborough and some decades behind local rival Southport. Isolated from good roads and surrounded by farmland, it was hard to get to and short on amenities. Nonetheless, along with a handful of well-to-do waders from Lancashire high society, there came artisan workers from the milltowns around Burnley. Dubbed ‘Padjamers’ – because some came from Padiham – they travelled by cart, on foot and riding pillion on horseback, believing seawater had “physic” or health-giving properties.

In the Victorian era, there were attempts to keep the resort for posh people, but loose planning laws and no lord of the manor bent on building mansions for his kind of people meant Blackpool evolved piecemeal. The beach turned into a meeting place for the masses, part urban fair, part country fete. There were freak shows, waxworks, monstrosities, quack medicines, popular dramas and small mechanical rides. Taking advantage of trains to Preston, Manchester and the West Riding, trippers came in their hundreds of thousands. Blackpool became the first working-class holiday resort in the world.

The golden age came at the end of the century, with the opening of the Winter Gardens, erection of Blackpool Tower and beginnings of the Pleasure Beach. Blackpool was glamorous and cosmopolitan. Of the Winter Gardens, a historian wrote: “Visitors were taken on a journey – inspired by international exhibitions and current fashions – from India to Spain, from pirates to princes, from extravagant High Victorian to elegant Streamline Moderne.” The widespread adoption of Wakes Weeks holidays in milltowns saw visitor numbers soar – as many as 17 million a year by the 1950s.

the 'godawful' british seaside town that began life as a posh victorian resort

blackpool lido – Getty

Every entertainer, from Arthur Askey and Thora Hird to Frank Sinatra and The Beatles, wanted to play Blackpool. Morecambe and Wise, who performed there more than 1,000 times during their long career, called it their “spiritual home.”

Decline hit the town hard. When Pevsner wrote about Blackpool in 1969 he noted with some surprise that it had no listed buildings. It was one of the last local authorities to designate Conservation Areas, and during the 20th century the town lost dozens of landmarks. It was assailed by roads and multi-storey car parks. Eye-catching theatres and elegant townhouses were replaced by amusement arcades and shops.

In Blackpool’s success lay its potential ruin. As both residential and holiday town, it was defiantly proletarian; when the UK economy tanked in the Sixties and Seventies, Blackpool was doubly damaged. Many B&B owners turned to the DHSS for tenants and the long story of the centre’s transformation into a sink estate for some of the poorest, most marginalised and least healthy members of society began. When people could travel, they opted for packages in Spain and Greece. Blackpool survived on elderly people’s memories and ex-miners taking convalescence breaks.

A story of doom and gloom has dominated reports on Blackpool for two decades. But the secret of its appeal to a surprisingly diverse demographic is still intact – and has deeper roots than the socio-economic malaise. Indeed, the town’s willingness to accept the poor and needy is itself part of its basic DNA.

Because Blackpool is democratic, welcoming to all and stridently populist. It has retained the elusive magic of a collective experience. In the bars and pubs, chip shops and arcades, on the trams and the three piers, it’s a resort where you can mix with anyone and everyone. Blackpool treats everyone the same.

the 'godawful' british seaside town that began life as a posh victorian resort

blackpool – Getty

The resort displays a remarkable ability to adapt to change and reinvent itself. The annual Rebellion festival, launched in 1996, draws punks of all ages from around the UK and overseas. Last weekend’s gathering saw The Stranglers, Gary Numan, Skids and Undertones play to packed crowds. The town’s Pride parade is no mere token or bandwagon event; Blackpool is internationally recognised as an LGBT trendsetter.

There are smaller pockets of innovation all over, like the Art B&B, with rooms designed by artists, the swanky Mode apartments in the Art Deco Music Hall Tavern or the clever designers who have turned the old Pump and Truncheon pub into No 13 Bonny Street and protected a lovely old frontage.

The centre might be chaotic and a bit garish, but the Tower – once the country’s tallest man-made structure – still rises high above, phallic, iconic, loftily distant from the melee and downright handsome. Its interiors – Frank Matcham’s ballroom, Maxwell and Tuke’s Moorish circus arena – are still drop-dead gorgeous, as are the views of the Fylde Coast from the 380-feet Tower Eye.

the 'godawful' british seaside town that began life as a posh victorian resort

blackpool – Getty

The Imperial and Metropole hotels, Central Library, Casino and Grand Theatre are throwbacks to a time when proud civic burghers beautified their towns rather than feathering their nests; no wonder Strictly Come Dancing loves to come to Blackpool, even if our sniffy politicians now largely disdain it for their conferences.

In 2019, Blackpool had 14.75 million day trippers and 3.38 million overnight visitors – the latter is the more staggering statistic. It’s impossible to generalise about why people keep coming. Many visitors no doubt concur with Sarah, 53: “I have really fond childhood memories of a place that felt totally different from Bolton where I grew up. My grandparents went during the Wakes Weeks. Blackpool gives me nostalgia, spectacle and a special connection.”

Many come for the world-class rides, which are as impressive as any in Orlando. Families love Blackpool because it provides plenty of safe spaces for children.

“It has lovely beaches, seven miles of them,” says Les, 44, from Halifax. “People sometimes forget the sea because of all the rides and amusements.”

The resort never sits on its laurels. A new £1 million Peter Rabbit attraction opened in February, a Harry Potter-inspired mini golf course called Hole in the Wand in May, and the Arcade Club, for retro gaming aficionados, in June. There’s an air show next weekend, the World Fireworks Championship Blackpool over four days in September and October, and, from August 30, all manner of events linked to the Illuminations.

Thus, despite all prophecies to the contrary, Blackpool endures. It has something for everyone, sophisticated with a common touch, and very entertaining. I was verging on euphoric when I was there on that Saturday, and came away feeling I needed to make regular, frequent, fun-seeking visits – Blackpool has been doing that to people for 250 years.

Only in Blackpool: five things you can’t leave without doing

Stroll along the prom, prom, prom

Blackpool’s Promenade is a very distinctive combination of sea breezes, golden sands, historic piers, cutting edge sea-wall architecture, public art and people of every stripe and style. An hour’s stroll will reveal more about modern Britain than any earnest documentary.

Take a tram along the Golden Mile

There are frequent departures along the front between Starr Gate and Fleetwood Ferry; there’s a vintage tram and a full-blown vintage weekend on August 27-29.

Ride on something terrifying

Take your pick between the Skyscreamer reverse bungee on South Pier, the Icon and Big One roller coasters at Pleasure Beach, or the white knuckle slides at Sandcastle Waterpark.

the 'godawful' british seaside town that began life as a posh victorian resort

Pleasure Beach blackpool – Getty

Eat salty and sugary delights

Enjoy cockles or oysters (from Roberts) for starters, fish and chips (from Papa’s) for mains and ice cream (from Notarianni) or a stick of rock for dessert.

Do the Blackpool Illuminations

They’ll be switched on by Johnny Vegas (the voice of this year’s ‘Nigel C Gull’ marketing campaign) on September 2, running till January 2, 2023. Joining a six-mile traffic jam might not sound like a grand evening out – but it is! (On August 30, Ride the Lights invites cyclists to travel the route and enjoy a car-free sneak preview.)

Do you have fond memories of seaside holidays in Blackpool? Please share your stories in the comments below

Sign up to the Front Page newsletter for free: Your essential guide to the day’s agenda from The Telegraph – direct to your inbox seven days a week.

News Related


Typical US household spends $24k on bills per year: report

Detroit has the lowest monthly household bill costs, according to the report Read more »

Tory Lanez denies claims that he hit-and-run on pregnant driver in New Year's Day 2021 incident

Couple said that incident took place in Miami on January 1, 2021 They said that Lanez sideswiped them as they were stopped at an exit The driver was four months pregnant in the incident, the couple said A lawyer for Brown said the claims are baseless and noted couple waited six months to file a claim Brown said insurance probe came to conclusion 'there was no basis to the claim' Lanez was accused of sucker punching August Alsina last month He is also in litigation over a July 2020 incident involving Megan Thee Stallion  Read more »

The Bachelor's Thomas Malucelli is rushed to hospital after motorcycle accident: 'So grateful to be alive'

Do you have a tip about The Bachelor? Email  Read more »

The late-night crisis meeting in Liz's 22nd floor Hyatt suite where the lady decided she was for turning: ANDREW PIERCE reports on a dramatic day at the Tory party conference

Sunday night in the Malmaison Birmingham hotel, and Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng looked uncharacteristically subdued. Hours earlier, he had shown the Prime Minister a draft of his speech for the following ... Read more »

Crafty van driver adds stripes to van in bid to dodge speeding ticket

Van A van driver tried to dodge a speeding ticket by adding stripes to his vehicle, before submitting a photo to the authorities and claiming they had always been there. ... Read more »

“I fear Pakistan might go out of world cup in first round”: Shoaib Akhtar reiterates it again

“I fear Pakistan might go out of world cup in first round”: Shoaib Akhtar reiterates it again The former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar has said it before and says it ... Read more »

Video: Karl Stefanovic explodes over move to bring ISIS families back to Australia in fiery clash with Bill Shorten - and accuses the Labor leader of secretly agreeing with him

Read more »

Liz Truss dared to defuse Gordon Brown’s tax time bomb – but it blew up in her face

Liz Truss is trying to reduce the top rate of income tax, but faces a rebellion from inside the Tory party – Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images Editor’s note: The opinions ... Read more »

Vodafone merger talks with Chinese-owned rival trigger alarm over undersea cables

vodafone Vodafone is preparing the biggest test yet of takeover laws meant to protect national security with plans to merge its British operation – including its sensitive undersea cables – ... Read more »

Karl Stefanovic explodes over move to bring ISIS families back to Australia in fiery clash with Bill Shorten - and accuses the ex-Labor leader of secretly agreeing with him

16 ISIS brides and 42 children in Syria will be repatriated back to Australia Karl Stefanovic said 'there was no way' those families should be allowed back Bill Shorten noted there were young kids stranded in the Middle Eastern countryStefanovic said he didn't think Shorten would support it 'if you had a choice'  Read more »

Legault urges Quebecers to fulfill their democratic obligation by voting

A man prepares to vote during the Quebec election Oct. 3, 2022. QUEBEC — François Legault used his one daytime appearance on election day to urge Quebecers to vote and ... Read more »

Chief scout Marco Neppe reveals how Bayern Munich pounced on Jamal Musiala

Chief scout Marco Neppe reveals how Bayern Munich pounced on Jamal Musiala After briefly scouting a group of English youth players at an international tournament in 2018, Bayern Munich technical ... Read more »

Stock Futures Rise Slightly Following Relief Rally to Begin October

Source: NYSE Stock futures went up slightly following a broad rally on the first trading day of October – a sharp turn from September, which brought the worst month since ... Read more »

What do we know about the fan’s death at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ stadium on Sunday?

What do we know about the fan’s death at the Pittsburgh Steelers’ stadium on Sunday? Tragedy struck following the Steelers’ loss on Sunday, as reports confirmed that a fan had ... Read more »

Royal Mint reveals 10 rarest 50p coins - including Peter Rabbit

Coin The Royal Mint has revealed its top 20 rarest 50 pence coins in circulation, as the move to ‘new money’ pounds and pence happened 51 years ago this month. ... Read more »

Elon Musk company wants to dump millions of gallons of treated wastewater in Texas

A company with ties to Elon Musk has filed for permission to dump millions of gallons of treated wastewater on its property in Bastrop, Texas, according to a Monday report ... Read more »

Antonio Inoki, Japanese lawmaker and global wrestling icon who fought Muhammad Ali, dies

Popular Japanese professional wrestler and lawmaker Antonio Inoki, who faced a world boxing champion Muhammad Ali in a 1976 match that helped pioneer mixed martial arts as a huge spectator ... Read more »

A mother was murdered by a rapist in "sickeningly severe" attack at Manchester park... 35 years on he remains free

“The attack was sickeningly severe. I will not rest until we have our man.” The words were spoken by Detective Arnold Beales ten days after a mum of five was ... Read more »

Have You Been Loading Your Dishwasher All Wrong? A TikTok Showing the 'Proper' Method Is Going Viral

tiktok Barbara “Babs” Costello has done it again. The 73-year-old TikTok sensation has once again taken the video-sharing app by storm with her tutorial on how to correctly load a ... Read more »

Man arrested on drug trafficking charges in southeastern Ohio

Man arrested on drug trafficking charges in southeastern Ohio SCIOTO COUNTY, Ohio (WSAZ) – A man from Cincinnati was arrested on drug charges after investigators seized heroin and fentanyl, among ... Read more »

Texas woman who charged U.S. Capitol dressed as Captain America gets jail sentence

A Texas woman who charged the U.S. Capitol dressed in a Captain America costume, then fought law enforcement officers trying to clear the scene, was sentenced to six months of ... Read more »

Panel rejects $1M payouts to inmates given vaccine overdoses

Panel rejects $1M payouts to inmates given vaccine overdoses A state board has rejected claims for $1 million payments for 52 prison inmates who were given six times the proper ... Read more »

Bunging burglar jumped from upstairs window when caught in act by police

Darren McFadyen pictured at Newcastle Upon Tyne Combined Court Centre on Newcastle Quayside. A hapless burglar leapt from an upstairs window when he was caught in the act burgling a ... Read more »

Strictly's Giovanni Pernice says it's a 'privilege' to dance in all-male partnership

Strictly Come Dancing pro Giovanni Pernice has declared dancing in an all-male pairing on the show a ‘privilege.’ The Italian dancer – who lifted the glitter ball trophy last year ... Read more »

Israel Adesanya warned he faces disadvantage in title fight against Alex Pereira

Israel Adesanya has been warned that Alex Pereira could be able to control their upcoming fight by using his significant size advantage. ‘Style Bender’ will defend his UFC middleweight title ... Read more »

Petco's holiday collection for dogs, cats offers Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year's gear

Petco’s 500+ 'More & Merrier' collection has products for the holiday season Read more »

Parents Found After 5-Year-Old Dropped Off at Broward School He Doesn't Attend

Parents Found After 5-Year-Old Dropped Off at Broward School He Doesn't Attend Deputies were investigating after a 5-year-old child was dropped off at a Broward school he doesn’t attend Monday. ... Read more »

The Horrifying Way A Football Fan Was Killed By A Flying Lawnmower

NFL Fans As thousands gather to watch NFL games each week in stadiums all across the country, though, countless medical emergencies among spectators likely occur. In response, the NFL offers ... Read more »

Rick Hahn Says White Sox Will Interview Miguel Cairo for Manager

Rick Hahn says team will interview Miguel Cairo for manager originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago In the same press conference Tony La Russa announced he will not return for ... Read more »

Indigenous wall paintings uncovered at Mexican convent

Indigenous wall paintings uncovered at Mexican convent Indigenous symbols like a feather headdress, an axe and a shield have been found under layers of lime plaster at open-air chapels in ... Read more »

Accused Waukesha parade attacker kicked out of court 7 minutes into trial

Darrell Brooks was kicked out of the courtroom 7 minutes into his trial on Monday (Pictures: AP) The man accused of driving into a crowded Christmas parade last year, killing ... Read more »

Police stop attempt to expand encampment outside Manitoba legislature

Winnipeg police have stopped an attempt to enlarge an encampment on the front lawn of the Manitoba legislature. Two teepees were previously set up on the lawn, and protesters were ... Read more »

'It was a complete shock!': Molly-Mae Hague reveals she is six months pregnant while hinting at her baby's due date in candid new video

She’s expecting her first baby with boxer boyfriend Tommy Fury, 23. And Molly-Mae Hague, also 23, hinted at her due date on Monday as she revealed that she is now ... Read more »

‘Gunsmoke’: James Arness Revealed the Name of His Horse and Why the Show Never Said It

James Arness created an undeniable legacy thanks to his performance as Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke. He had the opportunity to play the U. S. marshal, which gave him liberties to ... Read more »

17 convicted after large-scale drug trafficking organization dismantled

“This amount of methamphetamine trafficked from Kentucky, Georgia, and Ohio is staggering,” said United States Attorney Will Thompson. CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – A final sentencing was carried out Monday in ... Read more »

Blast of winterlike cold on the way for Midwest, Northeast

AccuWeather forecasters expect the coldest air of the season to arrive this week in the Midwest and Northeast, and a little snow could even come with it. The taste of ... Read more »

After THAT new royal photo it's Harry and Meghan's turn: Sussexes release new images of themselves at the One Young World summit two days after publication of King's picture with Camilla, William and Kate

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have released new photos of themselves on MondayThe new images come days after the publication of an official picture of the Royal FamilyThe couple are shown attending the One Young World summit for youth leaders in Manchester last monthThe images were taken by celebrity photographer Misan Harriman Read more »

Officials wait 20 years for rare turtle species to breed

A rare and endangered turtle species has finally been bred at the San Diego Zoo. Conservationists have waited 20 years for any indications of breeding. Read more »

1 hospitalized after brawl at Bard High School Early College in SE DC, fire officials say

1 hospitalized after brawl at Bard High School Early College in SE DC, fire officials say D.C. Police are investigating a school fighting incident at a Southeast D.C. high school ... Read more »

3 Top TSX Healthcare Stocks to Buy in October

Doctor talking to a patient in the corridor of a hospital. October is upon us, and the market continues to dive further down. While there was an increase in the ... Read more »
Breaking thailand news, thai news, thailand news Verified News Story Network