Blackpool is famous for its unique brand of kitsch entertainment, Kiss-Me-Quick hats, donkey rides and its tower, but it is also a fantastic place to visit because it is home to not just one but three piers, which add to its status as one of the top seaside resorts in the United Kingdom. Each of the piers has its own identity and each stands out as unique and yet in common they have a starring role in Blackpool’s role as a leading seaside resort. The piers are within walking distance of one another and are situated along what is famously known as “The Golden Mile“.
The North pier at Blackpool is so named because of its close proximity to the railway station Blackpool North: it is not very far north of the town geographically, since it is only about 400 metres north of Blackpool’s iconic Tower.
The North Pier was opened in 1863 and it is one of the few designs by Eugenius Birch, which is still standing. It is some 500 metres in length and a very classic ‘seaside’ pier, which has resulted in it becoming a Listed building, with a
Grade 2 status as defined by English Heritage. The architecture is certainly very Victorian and imposing, with an Indian pavilion and a theatre as well. It looks quite grand and is certainly a reminder of the pride which seaside resorts had in the 19th Century. However, it I still much loved today and the National Piers Society voted it to be the Pier of the Year in 2004, so its popularity is certainly not on the wane.
It is slightly more refined and traditional than the other two piers and this is reflected in its use, the North Pier is where people take a gentle stroll, breathe in the sea air and lounge in the sun and it does not have the same range of facilities and amusement arcades etc as the other two piers. Somehow the pier appears almost aloof due to its timeless elegance and it does have an air of being a throwback in terms of time, which makes it an interesting place to visit and it is also a little bit quieter and more relaxed than its rather louder neighbours!
The Central Pier with its landmark Big Wheel is one of the most famous images of Blackpool, after the Tower. It is only 5 years younger than the North Pier, opening in 1868 and it soon became referred to as the ‘People’s Pier’ since it offered people the opportunity to go dancing, which was largely frowned upon by the respectable, genteel middle classes, who preferred instead to take a walk down the North Pier. Thus the Central Pier was to assert its identity as the place to go to have some fun. It is architecturally a fine construction, but it is less imposing and less regal than its North Pier counterpart, but it is about fun, not splendor, so it is still an interesting place to visit.
When on the Central Pier, it really is worth taking a trip on the Big Wheel, which offers some tremendous views of the city, with its urban sprawl, but also views of the sea and on a clear day, views over the countryside nearby. Panoramic views are to be had and it is possible to see far out to sea, with its boats and marine life and also a wide variety of birds, out hunting for food. Binoculars help see birds and wildlife almost invisible to the naked eye, so don’t forget them.
Some of the features of the Central Pier, apart from its Big Wheel, include the Legends show, which is a live music show where tribute bands or performers strut their stuff in homage to the legends of the music industry.
Families can also have some great fun on the Dodgems, have a go on the helter skelter, or the frog ride or spend a few pennies on the slot machines and just generally indulge in some good old-fashioned family fun.
The Pier End Bar is a family bar, located (as the name suggests0 at the end of the pier. It provides a real family atmosphere, with families able to relax and have a drink whilst their children are entertained. During the main tourist season, the bar has entertainment on both in the day and the evening, so it can be a real find for parents.
So, to witness old fashioned, down to earth fun and frolics, take a trip to the Central Pier and just let your hair down!
The South Pier at Blackpool is the smallest of the three famous Blackpool Piers and it is also the youngest, having opened in 1893. This is a really family orientated pier, with a huge emphasis on having fun and indeed there is a real funfair atmosphere on this pier. It is quite unlike the North Pier, which stands out for its splendour, but somehow despite the fact that it is also a fun pier, the South Pier retains a separate identity from the Central Pier.
Originally it was named the Victoria Pier, after Queen Victoria, however, in 1930 its name was changed to the South Pier, which made it fit in logically with the other two. It is only 149 m in length and it is almost like the ‘baby pier’ when considered against its neighbours.
There is no theatre on this pier, so it is really just about funfair rides and games. The rides on offer vary from white-knuckle rides to the more sedate dodgem cars and there is also a large Beachcomber Amusement Arcade, which can be a godsend when it is raining.
The pier also gives a really good vantage point to see the famous Pleasure Beach and the view out to sea is also quite enthralling, with lots of birds to be seen and the occasional boat or ship.
It is not as refined or as elegant as the North Pier and is not quite as big as the South Pier, which makes it an ideal place to visit if you don’t want a busy seaside atmosphere and the length of the pier makes it ideal for anyone who can’t walk very far; whether old or young.
For more information see the website Blackpool Pier which contains more details on the 3 piers at Blackpool as well as information on the city, tower and pleasure beach.