The Era, Saturday, 11th December, 1897.
THE ALHAMBRA, BLACKPOOL.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)
The public-spirited inhabitants of what used to be termed the "
Brighton of the North " have now established. their claim to be considered, in
point of amusements, the leading watering place in the world. With its
magnificent 'Winter Gardens, Empress Ballroom, Tower and Circus, Empire,
theatres, piers, and promenades, Blackpool stands absolutely unparalleled as a
place of recreation. The latest development is the Alhambra, the
foundation-stone of which was laid in becoming fashion last Saturday by Mr G.
This huge building will front the promenade, on the site of the
old Prince of Wales's Theatre and baths. The nominal capital of the company is
some £350,000, and the pile will include a magnificent theatre, the pit of which
will hold 500 and the stalls 300, a circus, one level of which will accommodate
1,200 sightseers, a ballroom to hold 3,500, a magnificent grotto, lounges,
refreshment saloons, bars, &c.
At 12.30 Mr. Sims put in an appearance and forthwith proceeded
to " well and truly lay " the stone. Mr Alderman Meakin, J.P., introduced Mr
Sims with brief and pointed remarks to the effect that the directors intended to
supply Blackpool and its visitors with sound, healthy amusement.
Mr Sims said it had afforded him great gratification to take
part in the initial stage of another of those gigantic enterprises for which
their wonderful Blackpool was famous. They had palaces by the sea already,
palaces of delight, which were hardly dreamed of years ago, and which some of
those in the south hardly realised now. But it was a very great thing, and to
him a very wonderful thing, to think that here in the north they had already
created for all England "a wonderland by the waves." He looked upon Blackpool as
a specimen of northern energy, and it was gratifying to him as a southerner to
have their invitation to participate in what he felt sure was going to be a
great undertaking. In concluding Mr Sims wished unlimited success to the last
specimen of northern enterprise the Blackpool Alhambra.
Messrs Wilson and Long, the architects, then presented the
directors, through Mr Sims, with gold medals as souvenirs of the occasion. An
adjournment was then made to where mine host of the County and Lane Ends Hotel
had prepared a most excellent repast, to which about 100 persons sat down.
The Chairman proposed the loyal toasts in a graceful manner, Mr
Seymour Jackson rendering a solo in fine style. "The Town and Corporation of
Blackpool " was then proposed by Mr Schofield in a well-reasoned speech dealing
with Blackpool, past and present. The Mayor (Councillor R. B. Mather) having
briefly responded, Mr Porter proposed the health of " Our Guest" in humorous
In reply Mr Sims expressed himself flattered by the kindly way
he had been entertained and honoured, feeling, as he said, that he was glad to
help, in however humble a way, in the initial stage of one of those gigantic
enterprises which made the town famous. Not being a professional stone layer, he
was not sure whether he had done his work properly ; in fact, he was not sure
what he had done, but of one thing he felt quite sure—if he came to Blackpool in
a few months' time he would see the result of his work occupying a prominent
position on the front.
Referring to Mark Twain's " Pudden' Head Wilson," who says, "
Noise is nothing ; a hen laid an egg and cackled as if she had laid an
asteroid," he continued." Well, gentlemen, to-day I could cackle as if I had
laid an Atlantic cable." Mr Sims also referred to the compliment paid to the
southerners present by the inclusion of South Down mutton on the menu, and the
particular compliment to himself in the christening of one of the puddings. In
the course of further remarks he referred to the quest for the philosopher's
stone by Sir Edmund De Trafford and Sir Thomas Assheton, two Lancashire knights
in the time of Henry VI., and said that what those two men had failed to find
had been discovered by the men of Blackpool, who had rechristened it "Local
Other speeches of a complimentary nature were made by the
Ex-Mayor of Blackpool, Mr Ben Sykes, one of Blackpool's oldest inhabitants; Mr
Payne, Mr Councillor T. H. Smith, J.P.; Messrs Wilson and Long, architects ; Mr
Callis, Mr Pearson, chairman of the Winter Gardens Company, Blackpool; Mr Tozer,
and Mr Edwards. Mr H. Taylor, a popular baritone, gave several songs, and Mr J.
P. Sheridan rendered violin solos, accompanied by Mr J. Harding. During the
afternoon £68 5s. was collected and despatched to the sufferers from the
lifeboat disaster at Margate.