Lytham St.Annes Coat of Arms
Lytham St.Annes, Lancashire, England


The Preston Guardian, Saturday, 13th July, 1878




Festivities in connection with the opening of Blackpool Winter Gardens were inaugurated on Thursday forenoon and will be sustained until to-night with much éclat. With respect to the Winter Gardens and Pavilion, they have been constructed at a cost of nearly £100,000. The undertaking is one of the largest which have yet been inaugurated in Blackpool, and it was determined that it completion should be made a prominent feature in the history of this favourite watering place.

The local authorities, headed by the Mayor (Mr. Alderman Cocker) and assisted by a committee of the residents, have for a considerable time past been engaged in perfecting an elaborate series of festivities. In addition to the invitations which were extended to the civic dignitaries of London, the mayors and town clerks of nearly all the large municipalities in the provinces were invited to take part in the opening ceremonies.

Amongst the mayors who attended were those of Bradford, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Hull, Oldham, Leicester, Blackburn, Norwich, Rochdale, Derby, Bury, St. Helens, Gloucester, Burnley, Macclesfield, Warrington, Ashton under-Lyne, Carlisle, Dewsbury, Darwen, Scarborough, Batley, Crewe, Kidderminster, Lancaster, Glossop, Stafford, Congleton, Clitheroe, Stamford, St. Ives, Rochester, Maidenhead, Evesham, Tenby, Accrington, Darlington, &c. The town clerics of nearly all the above-mentioned towns were also present, together with the like officials of numerous other municipalities.

Blackpool Winter Gardens, designed by Thomas Mitchell and opened in 1878. 
Click on the image to enlarge.

The Winter Gardens, Pavilion, and Skating Rinks commenced about two years ago. They cover a large area, and are placed conveniently in the centre of Blackpool, with approaches from the beach and Church-street. The style adopted is Italian, but in many instances the plans have had to be made subservient to the necessities of the case, and the result is that the general outline of the buildings is somewhat irregular.

Necessarily a large amount of iron and glass has been used, and the whole of the buildings are exceedingly well lighted. The entrance in Church-street, which was used for the purpose of yesterday's ceremony, is surmounted by a glass dome 120 feet in height and 126 feet in circumference. In the vestibule formed beneath is a handsome fountain, surrounded by ferns, tropical shrubs, and statuary.

From this vestibule access is gained to the floral hall, an elegant apartment, 176 feet in length, 44 feet wide, and 25 feet high. Flowering plants, tree ferns, and shrubs are tastefully arranged therein, together with numerous models in plaster of the works of famous ancient and modern sculptors. The grand promenade is a continuation of the floral hall, and is carried round the pavilion, which is the main feature of the buildings. The promenade is of equal width with the floral hall, and its length is 423 feet, with a height of 25 feet.

Flowers and shrubs are its chief adornments, but there is a large array of sculpture, including some finely executed allegorical representations of the Four Seasons, and copies from Canova, Gibson, Duvet, Donatello, and other artists. There are also some excellent busts of members of the Royal Family and of eminent musicians.

The grand pavilion is an imposing chamber, and may be said to have scarcely its equal in the provinces. Its length is 155ft. the width being 75ft. and the height 60ft. The floor is somewhat lower than that of the grand promenade which surrounds and overlooks it, and by an ingenious arrangement of revolving shutters it can be entirely shut off, with a view to musical and theatrical performances, for which purpose a spacious and elegant proscenium has been constructed and the necessary licence to perform stage plays obtained.

The pavilion is surrounded by a commodious gallery, and at night is effectively lighted by three gaseliers of 150 lights each. The mural decorations and the painting of the ceiling have not yet been commenced, and the place now presents a somewhat bare and unfinished appearance; but this has been in a manner relieved by a number of banners and trophies and the introduction at regular intervals of shields bearing the arms of noble families of the three kingdoms.

Adjacent to the hall is the skating rink, which occupies a large space, part of which is in the open air, surrounded by rockwork and flower beds, and lighted at night by innumerable coloured lamps, presenting a charming spectacle. Not far from the rink and across the floral hall is the fernery, which has been constructed and stocked with much taste and skill.

The following were the principal contractors :—For brickwork, Messrs. Cardwell and Sutcliffe, Blackpool; masonry, Messrs. Fielding and Son, Blackpool ; woodwork, Messes. Curwen and Swain, Fleetwood; and ironwork, Messrs. Laidlaw and Co., Glasgow. The architects were Messrs. Mitchell and M'Leod, of Oldham. Mr. J. Eccleston is chairman of the company, and Mr. T. Blane secretary.

In honour of the inauguration of these manifold attractions, Blackpool on Thursday, presented an appearance of unalloyed festivity. The public buildings, hotels, and residences in the main thoroughfares were profusely decorated with flags, mottoes of welcome, and other adornments, and in, different places lines of streamers were carried across the streets.

In addition to the ordinary railway traffic, excursion trains were run from Leeds, Bury, Rochdale, Oldham, Bolton, Preston, Wakefield, Brighouse, Halifax, Bradford, Blackburn, and other places, and from an early hour the streets were thronged with visitors. Heavy rain clouds hung over the town in the early morning, and gloomy anticipations as to the weather were indulged in; but as the day advanced the condition of things improved, and the proceedings were not marred by wet.


The inaugural proceedings were commenced with a procession of great length, which was formed in the vicinity of the Imperial Hotel, where the Lord Mayor and his party are staying. It was headed by mounted police and marshals, after which came the local Artillery Volunteers, with their band; a, lifeboat, manned and drawn upon a carriage, succeeded, followed immediately by the members of the fire brigade. A number of open carriages, containing some of the more prominent inhabitants of the town, the members of the Corporation, and the Corporation officials, were next in order, and then a carriage in which rode the Mayor and Mayoress of Blackpool. Behind were the mace and sword bearers and city marshal of the city of London, following whom were the Sheriffs of London and Middlesex in their state carriages and attended by sergeants resplendent in liveries of blue and silver.

These dignitaries wore succeeded by the state carriage of the Lord Mayor, containing His Lordship and the Lady Mayoress, who were accompanied by the Lord Mayor's chaplain (Rev. Dr. Coe) and Mr.Coulsby, hip secretary. His Lordship was attended by trumpeters and a numerous retinue in crimson and gold liveries. A long line of carriages, containing the mayors, and mayoresses, and town clerics of provincial municipalities, a number of the residents of Blackpool, the shareholders of the Winter Gardens, and the tradesmen of the town, closed the cavalcade. The procession traversed the principal thoroughfares, which were lined by large crowds, who greeted the principal personages composing it with frequent and hearty cheers.

On arriving at the gardens the Lord Mayor and the invited guests were conducted through the buildings, and then took their seats at the tables in the pavilion, where luncheon was served under the presidency of the Mayor of Blackpool. Prior to the luncheon the Lord Mayor, after being introduced to the audience by the Mayor, formally declared the buildings opened.


After dessert had been placed on the table and the usual loyal toasts had been disposed of, Mr. H. C. M'Crea, Halifax, proposed "The Army, Navy, and Auxiliary forces." Captain Bemrose, mayor of Derby, responded. He said that if the Congress was successful in establishing European peace it would be because the English Government represented the feeling of the English people. (Applause.)—Alderman Parnell (Blackpool) proposed "The Bishop and Clergy of the diocese and Members of other Denominations."— The Rev. N. S. Jeffrey, M.A., vicar of Blackpool, responded.

—The Mayor proposed "The health of the Lord Mayor of London and the Lady Mayoress," which was honoured amidst cheers.

--The Lord Mayor of London thanked the company on behalf of himself and the lady mayoress for the kind manner in which they hail received the toast. He said to felt very much honoured by being requested to come to Blackpool to open that magnificent building. It might be expected that he should say something in reference to the city from whence he came. The corporation of the City of London had existed for hundreds of years, and he hoped it might survive all the turmoils and disturbances which occasionally arose with respect to its reformation. He treated that it would be found as useful a body in the future as it had been in the past. (Applause.)—The Mayor then gave the toast of " The Sheriffs of London and Middlesex."

—Mr. Alderman and Sheriff Nottage, in replying, said that as municipal officers it afforded his colleague and himself the highest pleasure to meet so many representatives of self-government as they saw around them. They were much astonished at the extent and prosperity of Blackpool.-Mr. Isaac Gregory gave the next toast, which was that of " The Mayors."

--In the absence of the Mayor of Salford, the Mayor of Hull returned thanks, and said that the mayors of all provincial towns felt the importance of self-government. (Hear, hear.) They felt that there was too much centralisation in this great country. (Applause.) Gentlemen living in a town knew its requirements and wants better than people at Westminster. Therefore they felt it to be their duty to resist the tendency to centralisation, which of late years had been observed in all governments.

—Mr. Alderman and Sheriff Nottage then gave " Prosperity to the Blackpool Winter Gardens Company." He said they heartily wished this institution prosperity, and they hoped its success would be derived from the prosperity of the great county of Lancaster. Great depression of trade had for sometime prevailed in England, the United States, and all parts of Europe. The existing bad trade may have been largely caused by the unsettled condition of affairs in the East. He hoped, however, that the clouds of depression were now passing away, and that the sun of prosperity would soon shine upon them. (Applause.)

—Mr. Pickard, a director of the company, returned thanks, and said the Winter Gardens and Pavilion had been. erected to supply a long-felt want in Blackpool. In the design of the buildings and in the scheme of management the comfort and pleasure of the visitors had been carefully studied, and he trusted that the institution would be liberally patronised. The lord mayor and the lady mayoress had greatly honoured Blackpool by visiting the town and opening the winter gardens. The people of the town and the county would duly appreciate the honour thus conferred.

—The other toasts were, " The Architect," proposed by the Mayor of Darwen ; " The Town and Trade of Blackpool," proposed by Mr. Alderman and Sheriff Staples, and responded to by the town clerk, Mr. H. T. May. " The Mayor of Blackpool," was submitted, in deservedly eulogistic terms, by the Lord Mayor of London. In doing so, he said he had been taught in his schoolboy days to take all for granted when it was " according to Cocker "— (laughter)—and he supposed it was still the same with Blackpool, for it had thrived under their now thrice-elected Mayor—Dr. Cocker. (Applause.) He was evidently the right man in the right place

—The "Press" was finally proposed by Mr. William Ascroft, of Preston. He did not know whether to attribute more praise, to the mechanical appliances, the rapidity and general accuracy of reports, or the sagacity and intelligence of literary productions, but true it was that the Press was the greatest institution of the day, and deservedly merited their consideration on such occasions as the present. (Applause.)—The guests than dispersed.

In the evening a grand concert was given in. the pavilion, the artistes announced being Madame Antoinette Sterling, Mr. Henry Pyatt, and Mr. J. W. Turner. Subsequently the Lord Mayor, the sheriffs, and the other leading guests paid a visit to the aquarium, and after dark witnessed a magnificent pyrotechnic display from the two piers, and a torchlight procession of grotesque figures.

Yesterday the same guests were entertained in a variety of interesting ways, including cruises on the sea, concerts, &c., and last night a grand ball was given to which some 300 guests were invited. On Sunday it is understood that the Lord Mayor will attend the church recently opened by the Bishop of Manchester.