There is, after all, an alternative Blackpool – one of history, heritage and even a spot of culture. Scene of party political conferences over the decades, the Winter Gardens opened to fanfares in 1878. Among the motley array of cafés, bars and amusements, seek out the extraordinary Spanish Hall Suite, and the Opera House honours board – Lillie Langtry, George Formby and Vera Lynn are all present. From in front of the Opera House, follow Abingdon Street to Queen Street and the porticoed Central Library, next to which the Grundy Art Gallery might tempt you in to see its Victorian oils and watercolours, contemporary art and special exhibitions. North Pier, the first pier to be opened (1863) on the Blackpool seafront, is now a listed building. Head northbound from here on the tram to the Imperial Hotel, whose wood-panelled No. 10 Bar is covered with photographs and mementos of every British prime minister since Lloyd George.