Newspaper article from June, 1877
THE PROGRESS OF BLACKPOOL.
Yesterday, and on Monday and Saturday, rejoicings were held at Blackpool to
celebrate the progress and completion of important works which wave been undertaken for the purpose
of rendering this already attractive seaside resort still more appreciable to the thousands of
people who annually visit it, not only from all parts of Lancashire, but from the country generally
In the course of a few years Blackpool has made rapid strides, and she may not inaptly be termed
the Queen of Lancashire watering places.
The resident's of the town, fully alive to the importance of making the place as
tempting as possible, and equal if not superior to other favourite resorts on the coast, have
exhibited a public spirit in providing new attractions which is quite creditable to them; and
although their zeal may not altogether lack selfish motives, it deserves, and undoubtedly will
secure, encouragement in a still larger number of visitors in search of health and of pleasure
spending their summer holidays at Blackpool.
Since the promenade was opened, about ten years ago, the town has enjoyed a
gradually increasing prosperity, which has stimulated the inhabitants to great efforts to still
further add to their success; and last year a charter of incorporation was obtained, and Blackpool
now possesses municipal government. To celebrate this, and also in order that the new works which
are being carried out may be made known, the present demonstrations have been held. The principal
of the new works is an extension of the north pier, which has been carried out at a cost of
something like £26,000.
This has been a work of considerable difficulty, and has occupied a period of
two years. The head of the pier, which was formerly little wider than the body, has been enlarged
until now it has an area of nearly an acre and a half. This will be better understood by stating
that the pier-head has a width from north to south of 280 feet and from east to west of 170 feet. A
considerable portion of the north wing is occupied by a spacious pavilion which has been
constructed for concerts and other entertainments
The pavilion is a type of Indian architecture, the design having been taken
mainly from a Hindoo temple at Bindrabund. Internally it consists of central hall and
corridors or aisles, and with its gorgeous decorations, conceived after the Eagan style; it
forms a very elegant concert-room. M. De Jong's excellent band has been engaged for the season
by the directors of the pier, and will give concerts in the pavilion and in the open air on
the pier-head at certain periods. On the south wing of the pier-head, opposite the pavilion,
two buildings of the same type have been set apart, one as a refreshment room and the other as
a fancy bazaar; whilst between the two blocks, and forming the base of a hollow square which
has been seated with benches, is a bend stand of unique design.
A curious incident transpired while the extension of the pier was in progress.
The overseers of the poor raised the assessment of the company, which had flood at £850, to upwards
of £1900, and sent in a demand for rates on this basis. The company resisted on the ground that the
pierhead being beyond low water line they were not liable to pay rates for the extension. The case
was carried to the quarter sessions and from thence on a “case stated" to the High Court, which
finally pronounced the company's petition to be incontestable, the pinhead being virtually “at
sea." By an amicable arrangement between the parties, the company agreed that their assessment for
such portion of the pier as is within the township should be raised to £1200, and the matter was so
A very important work, which, however, is a long way from completion, is the
winter gardens—a scheme which will cost £100,000 ; and other works which are complete are the
Lane-ends market, erected at a cost of between £60, 000 and £70,000, and the borough bazaar,
which has cost £12,000.
These works are wholly private undertakings, and of themselves are a striking
illustration of the progress of Blackpool. The winter gardens occupy a site in Church-street, which
was secured by the Winter Gardens Company for a sum of £27,000. The main feature of the scheme is
an enormous building of glass and iron, which may be imperfectly described as a parallelogram, to
one end of which is added a circular termination. The centre of the further portion of the building
will form a spacious concert room of great height, to seat about 3000 persons.
The central space nearer Church-street will be devoted to refreshment rooms and
offices nearer still to Church-street, and still occupying the central space, will be a
splendid fernery. The several departments are kept in the centre of the structure, end by this
arrangement the architects have been able to gain a promenade 140 yards in length, and running
round three sides of the building. This promenade will be divided from the concert room by a
glass partition, but it is intended that the partition shall be removable at will, so that
when occasion requires the promenade will become part of the concert room, and sitting
accommodation will thus be obtained for 7000 persons.
On the west side of the building a sea view is obtained through Victoria-street,
and here it is proposed to erect a very handsome stone entrance and a capacious vestibule, with a
billiard room and a reading room above. The gardens proper, which will surround the banding on
three sides, will not be very extensive, but great skill and much expense are being lavished upon
A very considerable area on the east side of the building has been devoted to a
skating rink, part of which is covered. The grounds surrounding the outdoor rink have been laid out
with much art. The rink is completed, and it is hoped that the gardens, with the enormous erection
which is rising in their centre, may be completed by next spring. The large dome with which it is
intended to cap the entrance from Church-street will be very lofty, and will form a striking
landmark for miles around.
The fete, as we have already said, commenced on Saturday, when the principal
attractions were special entertainments and displays of fireworks at the Raikes Hall Gardens;
promenade concerts by the band of the 94th regiment at the Winter Gardens; and at night a grotesque
torchlight procession in the principal streets and on the promenade.
On Monday the festivities were renewed, when concerts were given by the band of
her Majesty's 1st Life Guards, and also by the band of M. de Jong. There was likewise a display of
fireworks at dusk. Yesterday, one of the principal attractions was a procession of the mayor and
corporation and gentry of the district, yeoman of the Fylde, volunteers, lifeboat and crew, and the
friendly societies and trades with handicraft representations. The procession was a great length,
end included several bands of music, and the streets through which it passed were crowded with
people. During the holding of the fete the town has been gaily decorated with flags and banners,
triumphal arches were erected, there were illuminations at night, and thousands of visitors flocked
thither to witness and to take part in the rejoicings.
At three o'clock yesterday afternoon a banquet was given in the Indian Pavilion
on the north pier. The Mayor of Blackpool (Mr. W- H Cocker) occupied the chair, and there was a
numerous attendance amongst those who had accepted invitations and were present being the Mayors of
Salford, Burnley, Oldham, Warrington, Bury, St. Helene, Preston, Clitheroe, Southport, and Leeds.
The town clerks of Salford, St. Helens, Baton Southport, Congleton, Warrington, and Blackpool, were
also present. The banquet was provided by Mr. John Rostron, Southport. After the loyal toasts, Mr
Alderman McNaughtan proposed “The Army and Navy and Auxiliary Forces."
Colonel Lord Taylour, of the 94th regiment, in responding said that should the
regular forces of this country be required in the Eastern contest the army would not be found
wanting, and the departure of regular troops from these shores would not in any way affect the
security of these at home, for in addition to the great constitutional force of the militia there
were the volunteers who were as grand a force as was ever assembled. (Applause.) He did not think
that there was any need to fear a foreign foe in the absentee of the regular army. (Applause.)
Captain Hardman responded on behalf of the volunteers.
The toast of “The Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese and Ministers of all
Denominations " was proposed by Mr. Councillor H. Hall, and responded to by the Rev. R. Moore; and
that of " The Visitors and Mayors," proposed by the Chairman, was responded to by the Mayor of
Mr. Gilbertson, county coroner, then proposed "The Public Companies of Blackpool and the Railway
Companies."-Blackpool, he said, owed much to nature, but nature undeveloped would not have done for
Blackpool what they saw around them, and that development had been in a great measure owing to the
enterprise of the inhabitants in forming joint-stock companies, the pioneer of those companies
being the Blackpool Pier Company, on the solid foundations of whose north pier they were then
Mr. E. C. McCrea, in responding, after ex-pressing his gratification at the
manner in which the toast had been received, said the North Pier was erected in 1863, and was the
pioneer of other works. The pier company, he thought, had been a most successful company. He had
known Blackpool for many years, and the progress which it had made had been marvellous, for it was
not 25 years ago when on a wet Sunday those of the inhabitants who wished to go to church had to do
so in bathing vans, and the vans had to be used in turn. (Laughter.) The directors in improving the
pier, had two objects in view—one to attract visitors to the town, and the other in order that they
might pay good dividends—and he hoped that they had accomplished those objects. (Applause.)
The other toasts were '` The Fete Committee," proposed by Mr. J. B. Hallmark,
and responded to by Mr. Handley; “The County Magistrates" proposed by the Mayor of Preston and
responded to by Mr. R.Birley ; and "The Mayor and Corporation of Blackpool,' proposed by Mr. J.
May, and replied to by the Mayor of Blackpool.
In the evening there was a dress ball at the drill hall, and the torchlight
procession which caused so much amusement on Saturday night, was repeated.