UK CHAMPIONSHIPS & FESTIVAL 2010
be held at The Metropole Hotel and on the famous North Pier, Blackpool
Friday 23rd - Sunday 25th April 2010
|North Pier is
the first of Blackpool's three magnificent piers. Construction
started in 1862 and the pier was built for a total cost
of £11,500. North Pier first opened its doors to the
public on May 23 1863 with a penny (about 0.5p) as the price
Famous for its peace and tranquility with generations of
visitors, Blackpool's longest pier - a total of 1410 feet
- has somehow managed to survive the changing face of the
British Holiday for over 100 years. While it has survived
two fires in its lifetime, the main promenade still retains
many of its original features.
These days, the pier has been imaginatively upgraded and
is amongst the resort's finest attractions. Also known for
its theatre and top-class seasonal show, its amusements,
shops, restaurants and bars and North Pier is also the resort's
favorite sunbathing spot.
Location: The pier's name derives from
the fact that it is the northernmost of the piers and perhaps
because it is close to Blackpool North railway station -
it is actually located only about 400 metres to the north
of Blackpool Tower which roughly represent Blackpool's midline.
The sea front is particularly straight and flat and so the
pier's 500-metre length simply extends at right angles to
the coastline, more or less level with the promenade.
History: North Pier was officially opened
on 21 May 1863 with a grand ceremony attended by over 20,000
visitors. It was the second of the fourteen piers designed
by Eugenius Birch (the first being Margate Pier), and is
now the oldest of the few remaining examples of his work
still in use. It was also the first of Birc's piers to be
built by engineering firm Richard Laidlaw and Son of Glasgow.
Although the pier was primarily for leisure rather than
seafaring, a landing jetty was built at the end in incremental
stages between 1864 and 1867. These works increased the
pier's length to its current 500 metres. The pier company
themselves made use of the jetty by operating steamboat
trips to nearby destinations.
North Pier was heavily adapted during the last quarter of
the nineteenth century; both the "head" of the
pier (the extreme seaward end) and the connection with the
shore were widened to include music performance facilities
and shops. The facilities, although repaired or reconstructed
as necessary, remained much the same until the 1960s when
the "Merrie England Bar" and an amusement arcade
were constructed at the shore end of the pier. By this point,
the pier had long since ceased to have any nautical use,
but the jetty section was adapted for use as a helicopter
pad in the late 1980s. A small tramway was also added to
ease access to the views and facilities of the pierhead.
As mentioned above, North Pier is one of the few remaining
examples of Birch's classic architecture and as such it
now enjoys the status of a Grade II Listed building. It
was also recognised as "Pier of the Year" in 2004
by the National Piers Society.
Construction and repair: The bulk of the pier
is constructed from cast iron with a wooden deck laid on
top. The cast iron piles on which the structure rests were
inserted using Birch's innovative screw pile process; the
screw-tipped piles were simply twisted into the sand until
they hit bedrock. This made construction much quicker and
easier and guaranteed that the pier had a solid foundation.
However, the structure has been damaged several times since
it was built. It suffered a collision in 1892 and a moored
vessel (Nelson's former flagship, HMS Foudroyant, no less)
further damaged the pier in 1897 when it was driven onto
Blackpool Sands and wrecked by a severe storm. The pierhead
theatres have been particularly susceptible to fires; the
1874 "Indian" pavilion was destroyed by fire,
as was its replacement. The 1939 theatre, still in use,
narrowly avoided a similar end in 1985 when the early stages
of a fire were noticed in time by performer Vince Hill.
name North Pier
Type Pleasure Pier with Landing Jetty
Design Eugenius Birch
Construction Blackpool Pier Company
Total length 1,650ft
Opening date May 21, 1863
The North Pier is my favourite of the three piers at Blackpool.
It is how I believe as a real seaside pier should be.
Originally this pier was called the Blackpool Pier and
it is the oldest (1863) and longest (402 metres) of the
three Blackpool piers.
This is a pier to just stroll along and really enjoy the
sea air. There is a small amusement arcade at the start
of the pier, where there is also a coffee shop and a few
other small shops.
The pier is a traditional open promenade with wooden flooring,
where you can see the sea through the gaps in the planks.
All of the way along the pier on either side there are
seats where you can just sit and relax and watch the world
go by. If you don't fancy walking to the end of the pier
then you can save your legs by taking a ride on the pier
tram (75p return - 50p single). Along the pier there are
four small kiosks with shops and fortune tellers in them.
At the end of the
pier there is the Carousel Bar and the Sun Lounge. The
Sun Lounge is glass sided and has an open roof. In here
you can sit in a deck chair and enjoy the playing by the
resident organist, although there is a charge of £1.50
Also at the end of the pier is the North Pier Theatre.
Here such artists as The Grumbleweeds and Alvin Stardust
put on shows, together with a full production of supporting
artists. Tickets for these shows are £12.50 each.
For me this pier epitomises what an English seaside pier
should be like, plenty of seating, fresh air and good
old fashioned entertainment. Let's just hope that nobody
ever decides to modernise this pier