So here we are.
A few weeks ago, I told you that I would be travelling to the English countryside, and part of that has begun!
Just to recap, I’ll be visiting Cheshire, Staffordshire, Manchester, Blackpool, Derbyshire and Yorkshire!
However, not all of our travels would be the countryside itself, some of it would be of English quirkiness, and one of those places is Blackpool!
Blackpool is a seaside resort on the Lancashire coast of North West England.
Blackpool faces the Irish Sea between the Ribble and Wyre estuaries, and is 15 miles (24 km) northwest of Preston, 27 miles (43 km) north of Liverpool, 28 miles (45 km) northwest of Bolton, 40 miles (64 km) northwest of Manchester, and has a population of about 142,065 people!
Throughout the Middle Ages and Early Modern period, Blackpool was a coastal hamlet in Lancashire’s Hundred of Amounderness, and remained so until the mid-18th century when it became fashionable to travel to the coast in the summer, for a bit of seaside air and the attraction of a sandy beach!
Blackpool rose to prominence when a railway was built in the 1840’s connecting it to the industrialised regions of Northern England. By 1881, Blackpool was a booming resort complete with piers, fortune-tellers, public houses, trams, donkey rides, theatres, fish-and-chip shops, and was otherwise known as “the archetypal British seaside resort.”
Shifts in tastes, combined with opportunities for your ordinary Brit to travel abroad, affected Blackpool’s status as a leading resort in the late 20th century, and it fell to tacky, shabby decay.
In fact, I haven’t been there myself since I was twelve (12) years old, and found £5.00 in the sand!
I was enormously pleased I can tell you, so my brothers and I spent it all on Blackpool Rock!
However, lots of money has been ploughed into it, and quite frankly, Northerners haven’t been deterred by it’s less than reputable past. In fact, at one time, it was billed as England’s answer to Las Vegas!
Blackpool’s major attractions and landmarks these days include Blackpool Tower, Blackpool Illuminations, the Pleasure Beach, Blackpool Zoo, Sandcastle Water Park, the Winter Gardens, its sandy beaches, and the UK’s only surviving first-generation tramway!
We went out there to see what all the fuss was about!
Blackpool got it’s name from a historic drainage channel (possibly Spen Dyke) that ran over a peat bog, discharging discoloured water into the Irish Sea, which formed a black pool.
On the other side of the sea, Dublin in Ireland,otherwise known as Dubh Linn, is derived from the Irish word for “black pool.” Some people also say that the origin could come from the local dialect for “stream” which was pul or poole, hence “Black poole!”
Britain has a lot of endearing names for locals who originate from a certain part of the country. So for example, I’m from Manchester, so I’m a Manc or a Mancunian. People from Liverpool are called Scousers. People from Newcastle upon Tyne, are called Geordies, and people from the East End of London are called Cockneys.
Blackpool is no different. The locals are either called Blackpudlians or Seasiders!
I was a little nervous as Blackpool has a reputation of being slightly shabby, tacky, and a little rough on the edges, but luckily, we had nothing to worry about.
And I’ll be telling you more about that next week.
Meanwhile, let me tell you something about a hidden secret.
Now if you’re British, it won’t be a secret at all, but if you’re a tourist, it might surprise you.
Are you ready?
Blackpool has an amusement park.
It’s called Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
Otherwise known as Pleasure Beach Resort.
And it’s an amusement park for all the family.
Here’s some history.
BLACKPOOL PLEASURE BEACH
Firstly, The Tall Young Gentleman was surprised to discover that Blackpool Pleasure Beach isn’t exactly a beach!
Well, it is, and it isn’t!
I mean, Blackpool is definitely a sea-side resort, and many parts hang off the side of the pier certainly, but as far as Blackpool Pleasure Beach Resort is concerned, you can only see the beach aspect of it, right across the other side of the road!
And perhaps, once upon a time, all of Pleasure Beach was actually on the beach. Who knows?
You’d be disappointed!
BLACKPOOL – THE MOST VISITED AMUSEMENT PARK IN THE UK!
Suffice to say, Blackpool Pleasure Beach is an amusement park situated along the Fylde coast in Blackpool, Lancashire, England.
The park was founded in 1896, and has been owned and operated by the Thompson family, since its inception.
It is the number one most visited park in the United Kingdom, one of the most visited tourist attractions in the whole country, and one of the top twenty most visited amusement parks in the world, with millions of visitors every year!
In 2014, it was voted as the best theme park in the United Kingdom and the ninth best park in Europe, by the Travelers’ Choice Awards!
Blackpool Pleasure Beach park is host to many records, including the largest number of roller coasters of any park in the United Kingdom – ten (10) – of which five (5), are wooden!
- The Big Dipper
- Blue Flyer
- Grand National
- Nickelodeon Streak
- Wild Mouse
Many of the roller coasters in the park are record-breaking attractions.
When it opened in 1994, The Big One was the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world!
It was also the steepest, with an incline angle of 65° and one of the longest, measuring 5,497 feet (1,675 m)!
At the moment, this ride holds the record as the tallest roller coaster in the United Kingdom, standing at 213 ft (65 m), with a first drop of 205 ft (62 m)!
Oh my giddy god!
Pleasure Beach is one of only two parks left in the world to operate a traditional wooden Wild Mouse roller coaster, the other being Luna Park Sydney in Australia.
The ride was built entirely in-house, post-World War II, but is currently under maintenance.
The Grand National is one of only three Möbius Loop coasters in existence, where a singular track loops around itself, offering a facsimile out-and-back layout and creating a racing effect on two parallel tracks.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach is also the first amusement park in Europe, to introduce a fully inverting 360° steel coaster – Revolution – and is the last remaining park in the world to still operate a Steeplechase roller coaster!
Not only that but, Sir Hiram Maxims Captive Flying Machine, otherwise known as simply – Flying Machines – is the oldest amusement park ride in Europe, having opened in August 1904!
Recent records include Valhalla, which at a cost of £15 million was until 2016, the biggest and most expensive indoor dark ride, in the world!
Valhalla won “Best Water Ride” at the 2016 Golden Ticket awards.
The latest record is taken by the Red Arrows SkyForce, a Gerstlauer Sky Fly thrill ride which is the first ride of its kind in the United Kingdom.
A new roller coaster – Icon – is expected to open in Spring 2018.
Whilst my husband – The Music Producer – and our teenage son – The Tall Young Gentleman – proceeded to invoke the many exciting thrills and spills of HUGE roller coasters, I contended myself with searching for more relaxing attractions because:
VICTORIA HATES ROLLER COASTERS!
Why’s that then?
In Brighton you understand.
This roller coaster is huge, and I was very much looking forward to enjoying the ride.
Now, I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but I actually wear glasses, ‘cos I have the most appalling eye-sight, and since I’ve been wearing glasses since I was about 9 years old, you forget that you have them…
You’re on the top tip of a roller coaster!
We had just wheezed to the tip of the turbo coaster when I suddenly remembered that I needed to take off my glasses!
I was far too late.
And my glasses flew off into the sunset!
Well in this case, the early evening sundown.
As it was about 20:00 in July!
I was so distressed that I couldn’t enjoy any part of the ride.
I couldn’t see!
And not only was each twist and turn a surprise.
It was a horrific shock!
And once we came off the Turbo Coaster, I just burst into tears!
The staff came over wondering what all the commotion was about, and tried to console me.
But I couldn’t be consoled.
Without my glasses, I really couldn’t see!
And I was in Brighton. At night!
And neither of us had been to Brighton before so I didn’t know my way back to the train station, in order to get to London!
I think my blubbering and weeping affected the staff so much, that they really wanted to help me, and asked if I could remember exactly where I was sitting, when the incident occurred.
Well, I knew exactly where I was, when.
The staff had a good search, and would you believe it, they found my glasses!
Thank goodness, it didn’t happen when this accident happened.
Is it any wonder that anytime I was in the vicinity of a roller coaster, I began to get extremely anxious, and develop symptoms of a panic attack!
In that wise, I opted for the more gentler rides such as:
- Wallace & Gromit’s Thrill – O-Matic – ‘Loved it!
- Ghost Train – The first of it’s kind in the world – ‘Loved it!
- Alice Ride – Nice to do!
- Derby Rider – My anxiety level began to increase, such that I thought to leave, even before it started. But I stayed! I didn’t enjoy it, but it was passable!
I’m not entirely sure which roller-coasters my husband and son went on, but I’m definite that they went on:
- The Big Dipper – A good ride
- Nickelodeon Streak – Exciting, but a very short ride
- Valhalla – They loved it, but you get extremely wet. Including your trousers and shoes!
- Grand National – They found it to be the most exciting ride with great dips and leaps, as well as getting to race other visitors! You really need the bar to be secure as well as your seatbelt, as you practically get lifted into the air. However, they loved this ride the most!
They were very surprised that three (3) of the above attractions were made entirely out of wood!
It’s perfectly safe though, and they had a great time.
Great fun for the family, and snack prices were as low and as reasonable as we have ever seen at an amusement park. Ever!
- If you’re short on time, get yourself a Speedy Pass.
We booked online, but even the queues to collect pre-paid tickets were quite long. We hadn’t opted for a Speedy Pass as we reckoned that it wouldn’t be that crowded.
It was during the British Half-Term School Holiday break, so wrong!
Some rides attracted up to a 40 minute wait, and I ended up queueing at an attraction twice, and giving up because the lines were still too long, or took ages to get people in!
- If you want to use a locker, wait until you’re actually inside the amusement park, as it’s cheaper – £3.50 for small lockers – all day!
- If you know what you’re doing and what you want to ride on, wait until the evening, as tickets were being sold for £20.00 – two hours before the end of day!
- Book Online at least 24 hours before you want to enter the park. We paid £24.00 per person for an Unlimited Ride Wristband Peak online, instead of £32.50 at the gate! The staff also told you us that as long as we booked by midnight the night before, we were still covered to buy an online ticket, as we were still undecided as to the type of ticket we wanted!
So that is what we did!
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO BLACKPOOL – BRITAIN’S VERSION OF LAS VEGAS – OMG!
This article isn’t sponsored, and absolutely all opinions, and the rather wonderful fish and chips that we scoffed, are my very own!
I have so much to share with you.
In the Autumn, I’ll be visiting the UK and travelling around the areas of Cheshire, Staffordshire, Manchester, Blackpool, Derbyshire and Yorkshire!
October & November is going to be delightful!
Watch this space!
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Have you ever been to Blackpool or Blackpool Pleasure Beach? Do you absolutely love roller-coasters or do you panic, like I do? Let me know in the comments below!