5 Fascinating Facts About Blackpool
Blackpool is one of the UK’s top tourist destinations, attracting millions of visitors each year. Despite a dip in popularity at the turn of the century, the town has seen plenty of new investment in recent decades and is now a thriving seaside resort once again. Here are some fascinating facts that you may not know about Blackpool!
It is named for a peat bog
According to Live Blackpool, the town got its name because of a discoloured stream which passed through peat lands and drained into the sea. The name was originally spelled ‘Blackpoole’ and is first recorded in 1602, in the Bispham parish register.
The stream originated from Marton Mere and Marton Moss, and drained into the sea near Manchester Square.
Its tourist industry began in the 1750s
Today Blackpool is more famous for its dazzling array of entertainments than its beach. However, way back in 1750, it was the fashion for sea bathing that put the town on the map as a tourist hotspot. By the late 1780s, four large hotels, including the Metropole, were built to cater for the wealthier visitors.
The expansion of the railways made the town more accessible in this era. Heritage England explains that alongside the well-to-do, working-class folk from Lancashire’s mills and factories also flocked to the town for a day out. It soon became Britain’s busiest holiday resort, and remained so for many years to come.
Blackpool Tower was inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris
The town was booming with up to 250,000 visitors at a time by the 1890s. This era saw many of the most famous attractions built, including the Winter Gardens, the Opera House, the Grand Theatre, the South Pier, and of course, Blackpool Tower. When the seafront structure opened in 1894, it was Britain’s tallest building.
The Blackpool Illuminations were designed to welcome royal visitors
The first light display was installed on the promenade to welcome Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Louise, to the town in 1912. The illuminations have been displayed every year since, apart from during wartime. The switching on of the six-mile-long light display every September is now a popular annual event, with tickets sold in advance.
The Pleasure Beach Theme Park was originally a gypsy camp
The gypsies were the first occupiers of the land at South Beach, where they ran fortune telling and fairground rides until 1910. They were eventually moved on to make way for the expansion of the Pleasure Beach. It was built by William George Bean, who had travelled extensively in America, and wanted to recreate the amusement parks he had visited there.
The first ride to be opened in 1904 was the famous Sir Hiram Maxim’s Captive Flying Machine, which is still in operation today, and is a Grade II listed building! The Ice Dome started out as a roller-skating rink which was built in 1909. It was rebuilt as the Ice Dome in 1936, and the iconic Ice Show, which is still running today, also began in this year.
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