|Area: 34.92 km²|
Blackpool is a seaside town in north-western England. It is traditionally part of Lancashire. On April 1, 1998 the town was made into an independent unitary authority.
It is believed to get its name from a long gone drainage channel which ran over a peat bog. The water which ran into the sea at Blackpool was black from the peat and formed a "black pool" in waters of the Irish Sea. (In Irish, Black Pool is Dubh Linn, which in turn became Dublin.)
It is generally believed locally that people originating from Blackpool are called "Sand Grown" or "Sandgrown'uns," but these terms may be applied to natives of any littoral settlement.
The town boundaries are drawn very tightly, and exclude the nearby settlements of Fleetwood, Cleveleys, Thornton, Poulton-le-Fylde and Lytham St Anne's. Blackpool Borough, unlike its neighbours, is almost completely urbanised.
Blackpool is heavily dependent on tourism. Major attractions include:
The three piers: the North (built in 1863), Central (1868) and South (1893).
Blackpool Tower, built in May 1894, is a 518-foot-tall copy of the Eiffel Tower.
The Blackpool Pleasure Beach amusement park, near to the South Pier.
Sandcastle Waterworld is the premier indoor uk waterpark opposite the Pleasure Beach.
In what is often regarded as its heyday (1900-1950), Blackpool thrived as the factory workers of northern England took their annual holidays there en masse. Any photograph from that era shows crowds of tourists on the beach and promenade. Blackpool was also a preferred destination of visitors from Glasgow and remains so to this day. Reputedly, the town still has more hotel beds than the whole of Portugal. The town went into decline when cheap air travel arrived in the 1960s and the same workers decamped to the Mediterranean coast resorts due to competitive prices and the more reliable weather. Today, many visitors stay for the weekend rather than for a week at a time. Blackpool is continually striving to improve its position within today's tourist industry. One controversial proposal, which has the involvement of the local council, is to transform Blackpool into a casino resort along the lines of Las Vegas and Atlantic City, making it the centre point of gambling in the UK. This plan is dependent on the selection of Blackpool as the location of Britain's first "super-casino", following the slight liberalisation of Britain's gambling laws.
A controversial aspect of Blackpool's night-life is its hen and stag parties. Brides or bridegrooms-to-be respectively, along with their friends, often dressed alike in absurd or risqué attire, roam the town's many bars and clubs getting increasingly drunk. Their rowdy behaviour is claimed to discourage family visitors and has led to complaints from hotel and guest house owners keen to attract a more upmarket clientele.
Blackpool has gained renown as a lesbian and gay destination, with clubs such as the Flamingo, Mardi Gras, the Flying Handbag pub, and many gay-only hotels and guest-houses. These tend to be inland, nearer to the North station than the sea front.
The Tower and IlluminationsThere is a transvestite show bar, Funny Girls, alongside the Flamingo in the building that was formerly the Odeon Cinema; the building retains many of its Art Deco features.
Blackpool remains a summer entertainment venue, specialising in variety shows featuring entertainers such as Ken Dodd. Outside the main holiday season, Blackpool's Winter Gardens routinely hosts major political and trade union conferences, ranging from that of the Conservative Party and the TGWU with thousands of delegates and visitors, to substantially smaller gatherings such as the CWU or NUS conferences.
Blackpool Illuminations in September and October, consisting of a series of lighted displays and collages arranged along the entire length of the sea front (11km/7 miles), attract many visitors at a time when some resorts' holiday seasons have begun to end.