Shamelessly brash BLACKPOOL is the archetypal British seaside resort, its “Golden Mile” of piers, amusement arcades, tram and donkey rides, fish-and-chip shops, candyfloss stalls, fun pubs and bingo halls making no concessions to anything but lowbrow fun of the finest kind. It was the coming of the railway in 1846 that made Blackpool what it is today: Blackpool’s own “Eiffel Tower” on the seafront and other refined diversions were built to cater to the tastes of the first influx of visitors, but it was the Central Pier’s “open-air dancing for the working classes” that heralded the crucial change of accent. Suddenly Blackpool was favoured destination for the “Wakes Weeks”, when whole Lancashire mill towns descended for their annual holiday.
With seven miles of beach – the tide ebb is half a mile, leaving plenty of sand at low tide – a revamped prom and an increasingly attractive, gentrified centre, there is more to Blackpool than just amusements. Where other British holiday resorts have suffered from the rivalry of cheap foreign packages, Blackpool has gone from strength to strength. Underneath the populist veneer there’s a sophisticated marketing approach, which balances ever more elaborate rides and public art installations with well-grounded traditional entertainment. And when other resorts begin to close up for the winter, Blackpool’s main season is just beginning, as more than half a million light bulbs create the Illuminations that decorate the prom from the beginning of September to early November.