The heritage and history, magic and glamour of Britain's most popular seaside resort will be celebrated in a new English Heritage exhibition at the Quadriga Gallery in London's Wellington Arch.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Blackpool was a small village with fewer than 500 inhabitants. A century later, it offered three piers and more than 20,000 theatre seats each night - only London could match the variety of shows on offer.
The new exhibition - Blackpool: Wonderland of the World - will focus on two of the town's most enduring venues and remarkable buildings: Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens. These historic entertainment palaces provided holiday-makers with a huge range of extravaganzas within their opulent interiors, designed in many styles.
Archive posters, prints and photographs will chart the story of these listed architectural treasures from their design, construction and later evolution through to recent restorations and the plans for their future.
Two large illuminated crowns will be installed on top of Wellington Arch, bringing to the capital a taste of Blackpool's famous annual light show (celebrating its centenary this year). Commissioned especially for this exhibition, the design is based on an illuminated crown featured in the Royal Variety Performance at the Winter Gardens in 1955; particularly appropriate in this, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year.
Exhibition highlights include:
- A beautiful silver model of Blackpool Tower from 1893, presented to Sir John Bickerstaffe, the hotelier and Mayor of Blackpool who - inspired by the Eiffel Tower - was instrumental in the tower's construction and success
- Rare Victorian and vintage posters advertising some of the international stars and Blackpool institutions who performed there over the years, including Dusty Springfield, Bob Hope, Josef Locke, Eric Sykes and Hattie Jacques, and - the Patron Saint of Blackpool - Ken Dodd
- Early 20th century photographs of the interiors of the Winter Gardens including the Empress Ballroom, Indian Lounge, Spanish and Baronial Halls, and the Galleon Bar - many of which have since changed
- Early photographs showing the construction of the Blackpool Tower from its foundations right up to the finishing touches to its pinnacle
The quintessential British seaside resort
"Blackpool revolutionised the British holiday, providing people with an all-encompassing entertainment experience," said Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage. "This exhibition celebrates the architecture of the quintessential British seaside resort and looks at the role this heritage can play in Blackpool's future"
Blackpool: Wonderland of the World is an English Heritage exhibition in partnership with Blackpool Council. "This exhibition demonstrates what creative partnerships can achieve in creating new futures for buildings like the Tower and Winter Gardens," said Cllr Simon Blackburn, Leader of the Blackpool Council. "Partnership has played a huge role in everything we've achieved with these buildings and the support of English Heritage and our funders has been phenomenal. Our thanks go to English Heritage who made this exhibition possible."