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Blackpool 100 Years And Counting

Since this beautiful town has such a rich history, we have whittled down the biggest events that have shaped this seaside resort to be what it is today.

Roll up! Roll up! Here’s to the 100 years of Blackpool.

 

Blackpool 100 Years

The unveiling of Blackpool’s war memorial, honouring the First World War fallen, dated November 13, 1923. The lifeboat band is shown in the foreground. Image Blackpool Gazette

Blackpool 100 Years And Counting – After The Great War

In 1918, under the headline ‘Peace Day,’ The Blackpool Gazette broke the news of the end of The Great War. After four years of destruction and devastation, there was joyous celebration across the town.

‘Excitement grew and the whole town began to flutter with flags, streamers and pennants. Every child was soon carrying a Union Jack; every grown-up was wearing some patriotic favour. The pent-up feelings of more than four anxious years were let loose in a burst of joy. It was good to be able to go a little mad.[1]

And town continued with their jovial spirit when in 1920 an eight-day dance festival was held in the Empress Ballroom at the Winter Gardens.  This festival continues to this day and is renowned as the world’s first annual ballroom dance competition.  The festival has also inspired the film, ‘Shall we Dance?’ Where, in the 2004 version, Jennifer Lopez played the lead role of Mia.

However, this celebration was not to last.

 

Blackpool 100 Years And Counting – A call to arms

Once again Britain was plunged into darkness, when the leader of the German Nazi party, Adolf Hitler declared war in 1939. Though he had plans to destroy Britain, there was one town that had a special place in his heart. In 2009 documents were discovered in an old German Military base, which it was declared by Fuhrer himself, that the town must not be damaged by the air raids.

 

Blackpool 100 Years

Elaine Smith

“…Hitler intended to use Blackpool as his personal playground after what he hoped would be a successful invasion on England and the end of war.” – Elaine Smith (Chairman of Blackpool’s Civic Trust).

It has come to a surprise to many, that even the coldest of hearts saw the beauty in Blackpool.

Despite the love he had for the town, its residents had refused to back down from the fight.  Locals went on the defensive; volunteering to protect buildings and to serve the emergency services and embraced evacuees in their bosom. Blackpool became the key location to training recruits for the RAF, as well as producing aircraft such as the Wellington medium bombers, which were responsible for bombing key German cities and German submarines.

“Few towns can claim to have been as important to the greater war effort as Blackpool” John Ellis.

 

Blackpool 100 Years And Counting – The light will never die out

Even through dark times, Blackpool tourism continued to thrive, with tourists being drawn to their sandy beaches and The Winter Gardens.  The Winter Gardens is one of the largest entertainment complexes that contains an Arena, a Pavilion theatre and The Empress ballroom, which has also hosted rock acts like Queen and Oasis.   The Opera House theatre is also located in the complex,  and is notably famous for hosting music legend Frank Sinatra and for staging the first Royal Variety Performance outside of London on 13 April 1955, and then held 81st Royal Variety performance on 7 December 2009, which where both attended by HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

The town is also famous for hosting a light festival, also known as Blackpool Illuminations.  The festival which began in 1879, with only eight carbon arc lamps, now holds a parade of lights that brightens the sky.  Over the years, the parade has evolved and now includes Lightpool projections, where they project bright, moving images on The Blackpool Tower.

What we have learned through the town’s history is that despite dark times, Blackpool’s light never dimmed.

Here’s to Blackpool 100 years and Counting…