A Return to Blackpool

20161228_143853582_iosI went for a walk this week. I went for a stroll beside the seaside, because I do love to be beside it. The skies were clear, the weather wasn’t too cold and thankfully, there were no brass bands playing ‘Tiddely-om-pom-pom.’

I was in Blackpool visiting my parents over the Christmas holidays and, as needs must; I had to buy a few things from town. As it was a nice day, I decided to walk the four mile journey and see how much the town had changed since I lived there. When it isn’t windy, a stroll along the promenade can be quite relaxing.

Blackpool is long past its heyday and what remains are lots and lots of hotels, people and rag-tag shops trying to make ends meet. As I walked along the prom, the grand hotels were still present, The Cliffs, The Imperial, The Savoy, The Norbreck Castle and The Hilton being the largest. The Miner’s Home is still an impressive building to look at even though luxury flats have been built on the land, bookending the building. They all look as if they have seen better days though – especially the Norbreck Castle. It was renovated a few years ago, but I think it needs more than a nick-of-paint to restore that hotel to its former glory.

20161228_144657950_iosWhen I got to Blackpool, the town looked worse than what I remembered. The North Pier was deserted, the majority of it closed for the winter and advertising Joey Blower celebrating his twenty-fifth year as resident comedian (probably because no other venue will take him). I could see the Blackpool Tower (it’s hard not to) and under it were the tourist shops, Harry Ramsden’s fish and chips and a number or run-down or boarded up clubs. Blackpool’s finest lap-dancing club (according to its advertising board) was within a few hundred feet of the tower, nestled in-between some bars and more tourist shops. I assumed that was to cater for the numerous hen and stag parties Blackpool seems to get these days.

Some new things Blackpool has introduced over the years are a wedding chapel on the windy, blustery seafront and the comedy walk outside the tower. The comedy walk, I have to admit, is brilliant. As I mentioned before, Blackpool is long past its heyday, but when it was in its prime, every comedian went to Blackpool. The comedy walk reflects this golden age and has some of the best jokes from Britain’s funniest comedians written down on the promenade. I could spend hours there reading them all but I had things to do and it was getting cold.

I headed towards the shops. Blackpool doesn’t have a town centre as such. I’m sure it used to, but the council keep redeveloping areas for new shops to move in. As a result the main shopping area keeps moving around the town. I walked down what used to be the main street of Blackpool. M&S still had a presence, but BHS had closed and so had many other shops. Bakeries were aplenty, as were cheap jewellery shops and betting stores. A few charity shops filled the remaining spaces. I watched a man fill an empty can with cheap cider so people wouldn’t think he was drinking on the street at three in the afternoon. Anyone with a sense of smell would be able to see through his ruse. The whole place looked grotty.

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Blackpool Beach

 

When I thought things couldn’t have gotten any worse, I spotted some advertising signs. They were warning of the dangers of being drunk with children. The adverts were split into two pictures, one of a drunken adult and the second of a child in the midst of causing themselves some serious harm. It’s a bad state of affairs when you have to tell people not to get drunk if they’re looking after children. I’ve never seen these types of poster anywhere before, but I think it sums up how bad Blackpool has become. My dad told me he’d seen one of these posters outside of a school near the town centre – I hope it’s not aimed at any of the parents who send their children there.

In the end, I got what I needed and got out of there. I was hungry but I didn’t fancy eating anywhere. It’s a real shame that Blackpool has ended up the way it has. Everyone knows the place has problems and the town constantly occupies the bottom spots of any national wellbeing surveys. A comparison can be with the local football team – not too long ago Blackpool was in the top flight of English football and everyone enjoyed watching them play. They were a breath of fresh air and added a bit of colour to the league (they play in tangerine) but it didn’t last long and they got relegated several times in as many years. Now the team is a shadow of its former self and is struggling in the lowest league. No-one cares about Blackpool anymore but everyone agrees it’s a shame how quickly the team has deteriorated.

20161228_145942986_iosI used to miss Blackpool when I moved away, but I don’t anymore. It’s not somewhere I’d go for a family holiday. If the council ever wonder why Blackpool is struggling to get families to visit the resort at the weekends from further afield then Bolton, maybe they should have a walk around the town themselves with their children. They should do it first thing in the morning when the remaining shops are opening and the all night party-goers are going back to their budget hotels. They could take a family selfie on the promenade, just outside Blackpool’s premier lap-dancing club. If they angle it correctly, they’ll get the tower in there too.

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