I found myself at a bit of a loose end yesterday and decided I’d have a quick trip to Blackpool. Instead of battling my way through the road works, I thought it best to go on the train.
Sunday rail services don’t run to Blackpool South / Pleasure Beach until later in the year, so I travelled to Blackpool North. At first I was less than impressed having to walk from North station to the Pleasure Beach, but with hindsight it gave me the opportunity to see the town, rather than heading straight for the Pleasure Beach.
The changes occurring in Blackpool are fantastic, the renovated Winter Gardens look fresh and ready to welcome a whole host of new entertainment. The Tower can only be accessed from the promenade during its renovation, but that’s a small price to pay considering the fantastic new attractions that are being introduced, replacing the jaded Aquarium and Dinosaur Walk.
The promenade is a scene of chaos and navigating in its vicinity is nearly impossible, with access limited from most streets. Finally, with my fish & chips and coffee in hand, I wandered down the promenade towards the Pleasure Beach.
Now… I’m always the first person to defend Blackpool when people begin to bash it and throw the words ‘dump’ and ‘past it’ around. Some of my best childhood memories are in Blackpool – it’s a great town, but it does need to update its image and some of the services it provides if it is to become the ultimate family destination.
Thankfully, this has been identified and is currently being addressed by the council and its leading businesses with the Pleasure Beach, Tower and Sandcastle all investing heavily prior to the new season. Each of the investments have a heavy focus on family entertainment, inching in the resort closer to its eventual goal.
I figured a walk along the promenade on a cold February Sunday afternoon would be relatively uneventful. Twenty seconds after I walked onto the prom I was offered a game of darts. If I won, I could be the proud owner of a slightly out of shape soft toy Kenny, from South Park. I politely refused and was sworn at by the stall holder.
As I continued to walk, wandering past two lap dancing bars, two more darts games with equally impolite staff and a drunk man trying to sell me a joke book, I did wonder where the families were going to fit in.
The council’s vision for Blackpool to become a family friendly resort is the best possible plan for the town. The investments taking place are exactly what the town needs, but there are so many things that need to be addressed to ensure they have the desired effect.
There’s no point building a family friendly attraction, if the nearby area is unsuitable for families. Will I be walking my kids along the promenade, past the three darts games with staff who swear at me and the two lap dancing bars? No, I won’t.