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The Parish of Blackpool
in the County of
-- Lancashire --

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Blackpool Today

The early history of the area can be seen by following the appropriate links. The Blackpool we know today is quite a recent town. The new town was granted a Charter of Incorporation as a Borough on the 21st January 1876. Its first Mayor was Dr William Henry Cocker.

But the growth of Blackpool began with the arrival of the railway in 1846, when the new prosperity of the industrial revolution allowed the working people of Lancashire and Yorkshire access to cheap travel. In 1800 the population of Blackpool was less that 500, while a century later it had risen to almost 50,000.

The majority of the famous attractions were constructed during the latter half of the 19th century.

Among the first was the North Pier, which was opened 21st May 1863. It was designed by Eugenius Birch at a length of 1410ft and built by the Blackpool Pier Company, costing £17,000. A 474 ft iron jetty was added in 1867 at a cost of £8,000.

This decision to build a jetty outraged most of the original pier board, who thought pleasure boats would attract rough trade to the genteel pier. They even chiselled the name of the man who suggested it off the foundations in protest.

The Central Pier, designed by J K Mawson, was opened in 1868 at a length of 1118ft including a steamer jetty, which was swept away during storms in 1964.

Blackpool was also well instep with emerging inventions and technology being, in 1879, the fist place in the world to install electric street lighting.

It didn't stop there. In 1885, an electric tramway was built. Initially power was drawn from a slot between the rails. A leather boot was employed in an attempt to protect this system from the elements. However, this proved far from reliable and there were frequent breakdowns due to ingress of sand and sea water. In 1899 the tramway was converted to its current overhead system.

The Blackpool tower company was formed in 1891 to emulate the feat of Gustav Eiffel, though at 518ft, it stands just a little over half as high as it Parisian counterpart. A further difference is also the building that form the base of the tower. Its intent to provide entertainment during the less clement weather. Included in those initial entertainments was a circus, an aquarium, a zoo and a ballroom with a mighty Wurlitzer organ that rose from the floor and was made famous in the 1930s through radio broadcasts with Reginald Dixon.

The tower was opened on the 14th May 1894 at a cost of £45,000.

The South pier, designed by T P Worthington, originally called Victoria Pier was opened in 1893 at a length of 429Fft.

At this time, new theatres and attractions were being opened every year. Among the other attractions developing was the strip of shops and arcades along the front, now know for its rock and 'kiss me quick' hats and called the Golden Mile.

There was also a fair ground beginning to develop at the southern end of the front which is now known as the Pleasure Beach.

Perhaps the final major innovation associated with Blackpool was the Illuminations, which first appeared in 1912 as an attempt to extend the summer season by a few more weeks.

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