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Blackpool Tower, 1900

The Pepsi Max on Blackpool seafront is the biggest roller coaster in Britain. From the top, you get a staggering view of the town before you plunge at 80 miles per hour towards the Pleasure Beach on which the town built its fame. But why is Blackpool, well, Blackpool? How did it become the British day tripper's favourite resort?

Amazingly, the origins of the fun fair are lost in the sea mists of time. There is supposed to have been an earlier leisure park in the town, bigger even than the famous Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, but where was it and what was it like?

And what exactly did the first visitors do for fun? The gentry were the first to discover Blackpool, but they were eventually jostled out of the way by the hordes of workers from the industrial north. From sea-bathing and the drinking of sea water to Sir Hiram Maxim's Captive Flying Machine, those coming to the resort either made their own entertainment or had it provided for them.

Finally, great resorts, like great cities, do not just spring into being without a grand plan -- or do they? Is there something about the way Blackpool developed that tells us about the movers and shakers who would have had a hand in its birth and growth?

Three teams of Blackpool residents tackle these questions, using rare documents and photographs, oral history and a new way of looking at their town.
Blackpool Tower, 1998


The webmaster would like to thank Blackpool and Fylde Historical Association, particularly Ted Lightbown, for permission to reproduce photographs from their magnificent collection, Ron Severs for his postcards, Cyril Critchlow for his amazing collection of memorabilia, and Bruce Jackson of the Lancashire Records Office for the maps.

Cyril Critchlow