I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Tuesday 18th September

clip_image002[22]Blackpool today :-)  I’d been looking forward to going as I had visited as a child and wanted to see what had changed.  Also Richard had never been so a new experience for him!

We decided to catch the 1.30pm bus so had a quiet morning.  We had lunch and then set off to the bus stop that the Stagecoach website said the bus would stop at.  Ha - of course it didn’t even go that way!  We walked back into Garstang but didn’t know where the bus went from.  We asked a traffic warden and a policeman but neither knew!  The policeman very kindly radioed through to his control room and they gave us the location but by the time we got there the bus had gone so we had an hour’s wait.

The 2.30pm bus was on time and we were soon in Blackpclip_image004[20]ool.  We walked onto a very windy promenade and down to the Tower.  Great, the top of the Tower was closed due to high winds!!  However we went up to the Tower Ballroom Balcony and watched the dancing and listened to the mighty Wurlitzer.  The first Wurlitzer organ was installed in 1929, but it was replaced in 1935.  We even saw the organ disappear into the stage floor which was one of the day’s highlights for Richard :-)
A few Tower facts.  It was opened to the public on 14 May 1894.  Inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, it rises to 518 feet 9 inches.  When the tower opened, 3,000 customers took the first rides to the top. Tourists paid sixpence for admission, sixpence more for a ride in the lifts to the top, and a further sixpence for the circus.  The first members of the public to ascend the tower had been local journalists in September 1893 using constructors' ladders.  In 1897 the top of the tower caught fire, and the platform was seen on fire from up to fifty miles away.  In 1940, clip_image006[20]during the Second World War, the crow's-nest was removed to allow the structure to be used as a Royal Air Force radar station known as RAF Tower, which proved unsuccessful.  The ballroom floor is 120 feet x 120 feet and is made up of 30,602 blocks of mahogany, oak and walnut. Each crystal chandelier in the ballroom can be lowered to the floor to be cleaned which takes over a week.  The Tower Circus is positioned at the base of the tower, between its four legs. The circus first opened to the public on 14th May 1894 and has not missed a season since.  The circus ring can be lowered into a pool of water and holds 35,000 gallons at a depth of up to 4 feet 6 inches, which allows for Grand Finales with dancing fountains. The Tower Circus is one of four left in the world that can do this.  We used to visit the Tower Circus when I was a child and I remember the Grand Finales and was really thrilled to see that the spectacle still occurs.

We then walked along the prom almost to the Pleasure Beach and then back northwards.  We had to dive into Central Pier to get out of the rain and I spent a whole 50p on the slot machines!  We had promised ourselves fish and chips for clip_image008[8]supper and chose Harry Ramsdens and had a really good, and very filling, meal.  On 20th December 1928, Harry Ramsden began serving from a small striped wooden hut beside a tram stop in Guiseley, West Yorkshire.  His reputation soared as takeaway customers flocked there and within three years Harry opened a sit-down fish and chip ‘palace’ on the same site.– the restaurants have continued to thrive following this success, and over the past 30 years has seen outlets launched internationally in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Australia and America.

The Illuminations came on while we were in the restaurant so we walked down to the Pleasure Beach and then caught a tram back to the North Pier.  Walking is certainly the best way to see the lights and we were fortunate that it didn’t rain at all though it had poured while we were in the restaurant.  There are a lot fewer lights today than there were 40 odd years ago when I last visited.  Then there were wonderful tableaux as well as the overhead lights but those are now gone which is a shame though we enjoyed what was there.clip_image010[8]

We walked back to the bus stop to catch the 9.30pm bus and we waited and we waited.  At 10pm I decided to check on the internet to see if I could find any reason for the delay.  At this point I should add that there was a notice at the bus stop saying that on Fridays and Saturdays during the Illuminations the bus would leave from a different stop.  However my research said differently and that it was every day during the period!  It gave us the number of a stop in Talbot Road to go to.  Er where was Talbot Road???  Thank clip_image002goodness
for modern phones with the internet and maps!  We walked half a mile to the first bus stop but that stop didn’t have a number and the buses listed on the stop didn’t include ours.  We walked on to the next stop and again it had no number and our bus wasn’t listed but there was a timetable in the shelter which included our bus.  We had a very cold 25 minute wait until the last bus of the day arrived at 10.50pm!  We got back to Mary H at 11.30pm – fortunately I had set the central heating to come on during the evening so we got back a lovely warm boat :-)  My pedometer said that I had walked 7½ miles – no wonder we were both exhausted and we just fell into bed.

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