We were warned about Blackpool. Indeed, the Brits we met seemed embarrassed that we might see the worst of British debauchery if we visited this infamous seaside resort. “Why would you want to go there?” they asked us. Blackpool, it seemed, was the equivalent of the socially awkward relative whose mere existence was not freely divulged in the presence of up market company. Not that we are up market company.
Still we persisted in our plans. Perhaps the resort’s bad repute encouraged us even more. What exactly did the Brits have to hide in Blackpool?
Blackpool is located on the west coast of England between Liverpool and the Lake District. In its day, Blackpool was magnet for vacationing workers. During the summers factory workers from Manchester, Liverpool, and the nearby industrial heart of the Midlands took turns enjoying the seaside party resort’s charms. With the advent of modern transportation, Blackpool’s role as a leisure center has been diminished. Brits can now just as easily hop on a cheap flight, head to the Continent, and escape to sunnier climates. Blackpool has been left to redefine itself. The resort remains as an aging grand dame struggling to recapture glimpses of its old glory.
Today the classic beach resort architecture sits on life support amongst the modern waterfront renovations. Blackpool strives to leave the past and the debauchery behind. It seeks a more modern upscale existence. Alas the recent changes on Blackpool’s beachfront have produced a mash-up of styles. Yet somehow it all manages to work together.
We found Blackpool’s long promenade an interesting place to stroll, take pictures, people watch, and to certify that the sun leaves the sky at the end of the day. The resort’s historic pleasure piers, their ironwork decaying under thick layers of paint, are spaced along the new concrete beachside esplanade. Between the piers massive modern works of art punctuate the open space. The resort’s grand old pleasure piers are trapped today between the new promenade’s modernity and nature’s ancient pounding sea.