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Blackpool History

Blackpool History Blackpool derived its name from a stream running from the one square mile Marton Mere, to the sea at present day Manchester Square. The peat bogs through which the stream ran discoloured the water, hence the name ‘Black Poole’.

In 1416 the powerful Butler family was granted manorial rights over most of the Fylde coast area, including the small settlement simply known as “Pul", while in 1602 entries in the Bispham parish register mention both “Poole” and, for the first time, “Blackpoole”.

At that time Blackpool was just a collection of cobble and clay huts spread along the coast, however, by the end of the 17th century the gentry, led by the Tyldesleys of Foxhall, had settled in the area.

With its views of the Irish Sea, it wasn’t long before Blackpool began to draw in the visitors. Initially it was mainly friends of the Tyldesleys who went horse riding on the beach throughout the 18th century.

By the middle of the century there were four local inns where guests could stay and the innkeepers, John Forshaw, Thomas Gaulter, John Hebson and Richard Hodkinson, were listed in the 1755 Ale House Recognizance Roll.

Blackpool’s main attraction was the sea, with sea bathing and the drinking of seawater a national craze during this period. Apparently a bell was sounded when it was time for ladies to bathe, and any gentleman found on the shore was fined.

The dawning of a new century saw the rapid development of Blackpool as a major resort for the industrial working classes of Lancashire and Yorkshire. In 1801 the town’s population was just 473 but within 100 years it had reached 47,348.

In 1840 the railway was introduced in the area and by 1846 it had reached Talbot Road allowing the development of cheap excursion trains, and so Blackpool, the summer holiday resort was born.

Many of Blackpool's most famous attractions were built in the second half of the 19th century including, North Pier (1863), Central Pier (1868), South Pier (1894), Blackpool Tower (1894), the Grand Theatre (1894), and the Winter Gardens complex (1878).

Municipal history in Blackpool began in this period when the new town was granted a Charter of Incorporation as a Borough on the 21st January 1876. Dr William Henry Cocker was the first mayor.

Illuminated trams were seen in Blackpool as part of the celebrations for Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1897, but the first lights to grace the Promenade were erected in 1912. The Illuminations were well received, and so one of Blackpool’s most loved traditions was started.

Many more of the resort’s attractions were developed in the early 20th century including the Pleasure Beach (1905) and Stanley Park (1926).

In the later part of that century there was a marked shift from rail to road access to Blackpool, with the closing of Central station in 1964 to make way for a car park. Then in 1975 the M55 opened, linking Blackpool to the national motorway network.

The 1970s and 80s brought competition from continental holidays but Blackpool adjusted by providing mini breaks, en suite facilities, and major indoor facilities such as the Sandcastle and the Sea Life Centre.

And despite the increasing number of budget airlines and cheap package holidays, Blackpool has continued to bring in the crowds every summer, making it the busiest tourist resort in Europe with some 17 million visitors a year.

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