Sunday, June 22, 2008

Life in the UK: 10 things Blackpool is famous for

From the kampongs of Malaysia transported to glitzy Blackpool. That’s what happened to my friends and I back in 1979.

To say that we experienced a culture shock to the ways of the English would have been an under-statement.

Take the beaches of Blackpool, for example.

During summer, a casual and innocent stroll on the beach was enough to create a stir of excitement amongst us young guys from the kampong. The English, apparently, have a different set of norms for summer clothing from us – especially when they are on the beach, if you know what I mean!

But looking back, we were fortunate to have been sent to Blackpool. For Blackpool is unique place and has a charming character of its own. Granted, it is a resort town. But even amongst seaside resorts, it stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Here are 10 things that Blackpool is famous for :

Blackpool Tower

The Tower is the undisputed icon of Blackpool, forming a dominant landmark on the Blackpool skyline since 1894. Inspired by the Eiffel Tower, it is 158m tall. Beneath it is a complex of leisure facilities, including the world famous Tower Ballroom and Tower Circus. I went all the way to the top once.

Donkey Rides

This is a typical sight on British seaside resorts. Very popular with children, and some adults too.

Saucy (naughty) postcards
Saucy Seaside Postcards are a peculiar tradition but are synonymous with holidays along the British coast. They typify the quirky humour of the British. Characters would mostly be “well endowed” young women, well built older women, hen pecked husbands or red nosed drunks.

Blackpool Rock

“Rock” here actually means candy. Sticks of rock – made simply from water, sugar, glucose syrup, flavouring and colour – are very much a part of the English seaside resorts. The candy sticks have lettering in it. Some are sold shaped as walking sticks. A “must-buy” souvenir for all visitors to Blackpool.

Blackpool Trams

Tram Stop at Gynn Square
The Blackpool Tram is the only surviving first-generation tramway in UK and dates back to 1885. It runs parallel to the beach promenade from Starr Gate in Blackpool to Fleetwood in the north. A cheap and convenient transport for us students to get to town.

Blackpool Illuminations

Described as “The Greatest Free Show on Earth” the Illuminations was started in September 1879. It consists of a series of lighted displays arranged along the entire length of the sea front (11 km). It starts in September and runs till October. It is Blackpool’s clever strategy to lengthen its holiday season. When other resorts pull down the shutters for the year, Blackpool continues to pulsate with activity attracting millions every year well into autumn.

The Pleasure Beach
Below: The "Loop". Tried it once. Never again!! Kecut perut dibuatnya
The Pleasure Beach is one of Britain’s most famous theme parks. It has over 145 rides including the tallest and fastest roller coasters in Europe. During summer I would take lots of friends from other parts of England to finish off their money here. Entrance to the park is free, though. You only pay for the rides. Pleasure Beach attracts about 6 million visitors a year. It ranks amongst the top 15 most popular theme park in the world.
The Piers
North Pier

Fish & Chips store on Central Pier

Deck and kiosks

The Pier is synonymous with English seaside holidays. They are entertainment havens on structures built of steel that extend 400 to 500m out to sea. Blackpool has three piers: the North Pier, Central Pier and Southern Pier. Many famous artistes and comedians would perform at the piers during the holiday seasons. If one is not much into shows, one could just stroll along the piers to enjoying the views or just sit down and relax on the deck chairs.

Bed & Breakfast

Bed and breakfast, or popularly called B&B refers to an accommodation facility that offers only bed accommodation plus breakfast. Very basic. No fancy meeting rooms nor swimming pool for you if you stay here. Typically, B&B are private homes with only one or two bedrooms available for commercial use. There a lot of B&Bs in Blackplool because most visitors don’t need an elaborate accommodation to stay in. They’d be spending most of their time outside by the beach or in one of the numerous entertainment centres.

The Promenade

Evening stroll on promenade against the sunset

A typical shelter on the promenade

The Promenade is the area fronting the beaches. It is a pedestrianized area. It stretches on for miles and is ideal for long, leisurely stroll taking in the fresh air and enjoying the great views of the beach and the sea. The Blackpool Promenade is divided into 3 distinct areas, i.e. the North Shore, Central, and South Shore. The North Shore is from the North Pier to Bispham along the cliffs past Uncle Tom’s Cabin. This is the most historic part of Blackpool's Promenade as it has changed little since its construction in Victorian times.


Anonymous said...

Nice pics. I remember seeing some of these pics at our Teluk Intan home. I guess these were all taken using your SLR Olympus OM-10. If memory serves me right, you bought the camera in Singapore while visiting a friend there. The year was 1980 or 1981 ? Iwan (if you are reading this) was still in the cradle.


Azizi Ahmad Termizi: said...


You've got good a good memory. Yes some of those pics were taken using the OM-10 which was bought in S'pore in 1980 during my 1st trip back home from UK. I was visiting Hasni in JB and we crossed over.

Incidently the camera was "lost" 14years ago but found it back last month.