England’s Strangest Town

Film, Observatory

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.

18 comments on “England’s Strangest Town”

  1. Guy says:

    I think I’m the youngest man alive to have endured a childhood of annual holidays in Blackpool. Camberwick bedspreads, fag-burns on the tram seats and one memorable year when I contracted ringworm from a donkey.

    I rather like the place in a ghastly, haunted fairground kind of way.

  2. Helen Martin says:

    to Blackpool they took a trip… I can’t find my copy of Albert and the Lion! or The Return of Albert. Him with ‘is stick wi’ the ‘orse’s ‘ead ‘andle and all. I used to be able to do quite a convincing “Battle of Hastings”. The whole idea of donkey rides on the sand seems odd to me but we have had pony rides that were much the same.

  3. Vickie Farrar says:

    Those lights look just like Las Vegas. Years and years ago (probably in the late 70′s or early 80′s), I saw a movie called “The Neon Ceiling,” an odd little film about a man who had installed all manner of neon lights on the ceiling in his trailer in the desert. I thought it was a delightful idea (although I have not done so in my home). Having lived near Las Vegas area for 30+ years, I no longer view the Las Vegas Strip and all its lights as unusual. Las Vegas even has a Neon Museum, for those lights whose time has passed…. (Note to Self: Add Blackpool to list of “must see” places if I ever make it to England….)

  4. Anne Fernie says:

    I think the thing about Blackpool is that you have to suspend all irony and cynicism and just get into the ‘zone’ when you go there. The fun starts on the train from Manchester of a Saturday morning: hen parties galore. Just enjoy……..

  5. Helen Martin says:

    My neighbour is going to visit some friends in Manchester. I should suggest she get them together and go to Blackpool – and see the tower as well as the illuminations.

  6. Ken says:

    I have seen the Dutch College Swing Band at the end of a Blackpool pier in a howling gale, the jazz accompanied by the sound and sensation of giant waves striking the underside of the theatre…and Norman Collier impersonating a dipping bird.

    That might sound better in the voice of Rutger Hauer

  7. Helen Martin says:

    It probably doesn’t matter what the weather is – everything adds to a memorable experience.

  8. Mitchell Haywood says:

    DO NOT COME TO BLACKPOOL. You will be welcomed by drunken idiots, a high rate of teenage pregnancys, gangs of males that go out to attack people as well as many other wrong attributes. Save yourselves the time and hastle… Try take my advice. I have been here from birth and now at 22 i am leaving!

  9. Christine Dodd says:

    I have lived in Blackpool my whole life and I can see why people would come for a holiday it can be a cheap place and alot of fun so why not!!??
    Also Mitchell doesn’t alot of places in England welcome you with drunken idiots, teenage pregnancy’s and all the other wrong attributes you seem to have with Blackpool??!! It’s not just hear it’s everywhere.

  10. Amy-Elizabeth says:

    Blackpool is weird and wonderful, im proud to say im from Blackpool :D of course it has its tack but what seaside resort doesn’t. Blackpool is 100% a place to visit. I am currently in Sydney doing some travelling and as amazing as some of the places are, nothing compares to home. Hate it or Love it.. its Blackpool and theres no other place like it :D

  11. Samuel Davenport says:

    Lived here all my life im 22 now wouldnt swap it for anywhere in the world love it

  12. reece says:

    blackpool is the best

  13. Sammi says:

    I have had the luxury holidays in spain,greece,las vegas,florida etc etc but my mum and dad used to take me to Blackpool every year for the illuminations and I always loved it there, I go now with my friends and mum n dad stil go for their little self catering breaks. Nothing wron with the place, plenty to do amazing place only one problem it gets bloody freezing lol but I love it

  14. Davis says:

    What a bunch of sanctimonious southern bourgeoisie tossers

  15. keith says:

    I think Blackpool can hold its head high, yes it has its fair share of problems like all other similar size towns but it is trying to weed out the senseless knobs from afar who like to come to our town, trash it and go home. typical brits on the piss, get something good and abuse it until it gets broken. I love Blackpool and its locals are some of the nicest people you could ever meet. lets appreciate one of the worlds quirkiest,fun, friendly towns. a national treasure.

  16. paul says:

    ive been to blackpool 4 or 5 times in my childhood, im going back this year with the kids. blackpool is a great place if u r prepared to spend lots of cash it isnt cheap. most foreign holidays would be cheaper as theres nothing to do except drink and sunbathe. ill be avoiding the weekend hoardes of hen n stag night partys. its just too cheesy seeing ppl with there name in sparkles on there t shirt and drunk. u might then say why am i going? blackpools has been struggling to survive for a long time, and its created a new image of stag, hen, gay, mecca to try n stay afloat. the ballroom needs to go and become a gladiator pit of some sorts an turn the winter gardens into a racetrack, but apart from everything ive said its still a fun place to go.

  17. kieron says:

    i think that blackpool is a nice place as it a nice beach at times and has alot of gd atractions

  18. Kasia says:

    I’m an art student with the task of representing Blackpool in some kind of arty farty way. My nan lives in Bispham so I travel every week to narrowly miss the ignorant people that don’t bother looking to cross the road… Anyway! I’d just like to ask if anyone has a favourite part of Blackpool not commonly thought of? Exluding the obvious like the tower and Pleasure Beach etc but maybe your favourite shop or place you find your own in Blackpool? Thanks for any replies ^^

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