England’s Strangest Town
I’ve long thought of Blackpool as the most peculiar town in Britain, so trapped in a between-the-wars era that it constitutes some kind of grotesque living museum, and now I’ve had those fears/hopes confirmed. In what feels like a publicity stunt, Blackpool is trying to get itself listed as a Unesco World Heritage site.
The heritage at the heart of the bid is a century and a half of predominantly working-class holidaymaking. Blackpool was the first mass leisure resort, attracting the mill workers of Lancashire and Yorkshire, and the council is embarking on the tricky task of celebrating that heritage without turning the town into a vast museum, memorialising a type of family seaside holiday that is dying. And dying it certainly is; too bizarre and dated for even the hardiest of Anglophile holidaymakers, with its Winter Gardens, ballroom and illuminated trams.
Coming up is the season of the Blackpool illuminations, when everything gets covered in coloured bulbs. It’s a place no overseas visitors ever manage to visit, and therefore is worth a train trip. You may be horrified or amazed, but you won’t forget your time-warp trip.