Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Blackpool

I've just come back from a small conference in the seaside resort town of Blackpool. I was so excited a few weeks ago when I was told that this was going to be our destination! Even though it isn't very far from us, I've never been. I've heard countless stories about Blackpool from my husband and his family, neighbours and friends but this was going to be my first visit.

Blackpool is famous in the UK as a destination for traditional British seaside holidays. Historically it was where the Lancashire mill workers and miners from the North East went on their holidays. Families and couples would join holiday clubs, paying subscriptions or save weekly for their annual seaside holiday. These people couldn't afford cars and would come by bus and train. Indeed, The Man of The Place has had numerous holidays with his mum and dad. His parents as well as his grandparents went on holidays to Blackpool.
This is an old photo of Henry's mother, taken during a wartime holiday to Blackpool. We have a picture of her mother, Henry's grandmother in the same wacky scene but I couldn't find it. During my brief stay, I looked for this "Bongo" board or anything similar so I could report back but I didn't see anything.


Here is another war time photo. Henry's uncle Harry is second on the left (dark hair and glasses) and Henry's mother, Victoria on the far right. You can see that the weather is pretty foul in this photo but The Tower is still visible in the background.
Because of there are still grand ballrooms here in beautiful condition, international ballroom dancing competitions are held here.
This is the Grand Ballroom at the bottom of Blackpool Tower. There is another one like this at The Winter Gardens.


Blackpool is the annual destination for political party conferences. With all the hotels there, its one of the few places in Britain that can accommodate such an event.
The place is falling on hard times and struggles to compete for business with the foreign bargains that are available to holiday makers. Indeed it costs the same to fly to a Greek island as a week in Blackpool with a greater chance of warm weather. Its a shame that this is happening as this town has a unique culture. Stag nights and hen parties still choose Blackpool as a destination. In fact, a few of the guesthouses I passed when I first arrived had these notices in the window: I think that the groups of women and men on a celebration weekend can get too raucous for ordinary folk. I imagine that they would disturb other guests and possibly damage things while being high spirited.

Improvements are being made all the time. I think the days when grumpy boarding house owners turf the guests out at 9 am forbidding them reentry until 4, have gone. Gone also are the polyester sheets that were included in the stories of my husband's holidays.


The Blackpool Illuminations are still going strong. The Promenade is lit up like Las Vegas every evening . I got to see the Promenade at night when it was all lit up. I also got to ride on one of the trams. This was very fun.
There were lots of things I missed during this brief stay. I missed going to The Pleasure Beach where all the rides are. I didn't get to a fish and chip shop. I didn't buy any Blackpool rock (candy) or visit an arcade. I didn't get to go dancing in one of the grand ballrooms and I didn't get on to any of the three piers. It is a little seedy and rough around the edges, but it is still a place that can be enjoyed by the whole family. I'm going to have to go back.

16 comments:

Jay said...

What a gret post. I've never been there of course, but I've seen a number of travel shows where they pass through Blackpool. It seems like a fun place to visit. I remember one show where they said that Blackpool wanted to become the "Las Vegas of Britain". Seems more like a coney island or Atlantic City to me.

susan said...

I'm glad you had such a nice time. Lovin' all the pictures you posted as well. :)

sally said...

Blackpool looks great! We had our summer vacation on the Jersey Shore and I'd say it's pretty similar, sometimes seedy, sometimes charming. The lucky thing for the Jersey shore is that it's a weekend destination for a lot of Jersey families and exhausted New Yorkers. Still a thriving place. YOU MUST COME! Love this pictures!

Xtreme English said...

Wow! What an interesting post!! I've never been to Coney Island, but this sounds very similar. Love the colorful lights and the signs in the windows. If we can, let's go there next time I show up in Jolly Old....

The Bird Woman said...

I was dragged to Blackpool as a child by my Grandma and Grandad every October for 345 years (or so it seems). I loved it at the time, of course.

Joke shops where my brother and I bought snaps (things that you threw at the floor and they 'exploded') and fake dog poo.

The Pleasure Beach for the Revolution!

The Lights in October/November.

My Grandad drove us there, from where we lived in Chester, in his three wheeled Reliant. Seemed to take forever to get there. I always thought Blackpool was really, really far away - but it was only and hour and a half up the road LOL

UKBob said...

OH NO! No fish and Chips! Thats terrible - I love fish and chips by the way. I've never been to Blockpool. I know what you mean about it being cheaper to go overseas for a holiday than stay here. We went to Scotland last June and when we worked it out it would have been way cheaper to go abroad for the same amount of time. For me though the extra it costs is worth it, who cares about the weather. At least the dogs are able to come with us there.

Xtreme English said...

Also, Henry's mom was sure pretty!!! What fun to see her as a young woman.

Peggy said...

Jay - It does look like the Jersey Shore (same ocean too).

Susan - Thanks. Glad you liked it!

Sally - I will come across sometime soon Sal. I swear!

Ma - If you come across, we'll drive down.

Birdwoman - Have you taken Birdboy there yet?

UKBob - Bringing the dog IS a big plus. Don't know how many guest houses would allow pets though.

Betty said...

When I was there, it was completely closed down. This was the first of May. Does it close down for a while in winter? It looked like a lot of fun, though.

gawilli said...

Great post! The ballroom is fantastic. I can't imagine dancing in a place so grand. Thanks for the tour!

Peggy said...

I can't imagine why it was so closed down in May.

The Blackpool Illuminations are only on from September through to November each year.

Rhea said...

Thank you the photos and information on Blackpool. My best friend here in Boston grew up in Manchester and has told me about Blackpool.

Kell said...

That was great, Peggy. Thanks for sharing your trip with us. Mom and I were there at the beginning of May on a weekday and it was pretty deserted. It was also cold and rainy, so that may have been why. We should go back this time of year.

Joy said...

Nice post Peggy. I love that picture of Henry's mom. What a great time. It reminds me of Coney Island.

The Bird Woman said...

Peggy - No Birdboy's not been yet. I keep threatening to take him when we're on our way back to the Borders from Chester! He'd *love* the lights. Must make the effort this year!

Susan said...

Im originally from Bolton, we used to go there every year when we were kids. I loved the paper flags they sold to put on our sandcastles. Thanks for the wonderful photos. You brought back some good old memories.