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


Laying the foundation stone of 'The Alhambra' Blackpool 1897.

The Era, Saturday, 11th December, 1897.



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. It. Sims.

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 terms.

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 Enterprise."

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.