Portrait of Blackpool – Winter on the Fylde Coast

My hometown of Blackpool is a caricature of the traditional Lancashire seaside resort; sticks of rock, garbage covered, crowded beaches at the merest hint of sun, booze fuelled parties and miles of amusement arcades. Families used to traipse around from one attraction to the other in the height of summer, these are in decline now however. The drunken stag and hen parties have driven the families to mid-week only excursions, possibly day trips during the illuminations, the annual festival of light which excites every child, even those way past their best before date.

Cleveleys on the Fylde Coast near Blackpool on Mallory on Travel, adventure, photography Iain Mallory-300-4_cleveleys

Moment of solitude on the Fylde Coast

Returning with a friend for the first time in over 18 months on a cold, dank Sunday in January did not at first seem to offer too much to get excited about. Unsurprisingly for a resort which relies on summer holiday makers for it’s economy almost all the attractions and shops close in winter. It was not even possible to take a long stroll on one of the town’s three famous short piers.

The resort is trying to clean up it’s act, the beaches are much cleaner, swimming in the sea doesn’t require a public health warning, many of the traders selling the tacky souvenirs have been closed down. and the ‘kiss me quick’ image is diminishing. Blackpool is attempting to reinvent itself whilst still wishing to appeal to the families which once arrived in hordes during the heyday of the resort.

North Pier on the Fylde Coast near Blackpool on Mallory on Travel, adventure, photography Iain Mallory-300-9_north_pier

Setting sun over North Pier

There has been some development along the seafront in particular. the sea defences are improved in an attractive way. |The promenade is extended, a new festival centre opened, grassed verges incorporated and huge plastic vanes like giant punchballs tower over those braving the winter elements. I like what the architects have produced, it’s been modernised but retains it’s original appeal, bringing back happy memories of my childhood.

North Shore, Blackpool on the Fylde Coast on Mallory on Travel, adventure, photography Iain Mallory-300-11_blackpool

Looking along North Shore towards Bispham

Most surprising for me as a local, was the difficulty we had finding a pub serving a Sunday roast dinner; after trying three separate boozers unsuccessfully we had to settle for a café in Bispham. Maybe this is due to a lack of customers but possibly the offer of a roast dinner might tempt more customers, is this the demise of the Sunday pub lunch? Damn, I hope not!

Even in winter it is possible to ride one of the frequent trams which patrol the Fylde Coast seafront from Starr Gate all the way to the Fleetwood ferry.  The old slightly tired and weather worn trams have disappeared, replaced by a plush new fleet of ultra modern trams. Comfortable, yes but I miss the old ‘chuggers’, not all modernisation is for the better.

We purchased a great value day ticket in advance for just £3.50 each which allowed us to ride the trams all day and travelled up to Cleveleys. The seafront here has also undergone a bit of a transformation but it still retains its appeal, I love the coast here. It is a mix of sand, pebbles and breakwaters, there isn’t the miles of clear sand of Blackpool but the walk up to Rossall Beach is a particular favourite.

Cleveleys on the Fylde Coast near Blackpool on Mallory on Travel, adventure, photography Iain Mallory-300-5_cleveleys

A Cleveleys breakwater and bird sanctuary

There are plenty of little stop off points, pubs and cafés to enjoy a swift pint or coffee in the cold weather. It seemed busier in Cleveleys, most of the shops here were open and people were bustling between the stores, is this proof of my earlier Sunday lunch theory?

Dusk was now settling in, the night sky beginning to take a grip on the Fylde Coast and the shoreline was becoming more attractive. It was not about hiding any flaws, just that the dimmed light softened the brash appearance of the resort adding to it’s appeal.

Flocking birds over North Pier on the Fylde Coast near Blackpool on Mallory on Travel, adventure, photography Iain Mallory-300-7_starling_murmur

Early evening winter entertainment in Blackpool

Flocking birds over North Pier on the Fylde Coast near Blackpool on Mallory on Travel, adventure, photography Iain Mallory-300-6_starling_murmur

A pleasant surprise in the Blackpool skies

North Pier in it’s sunset hue was especially attractive and there was the added surprise of a large flock of birds moving in unison, almost as a single entity. A dancing, ever-changing pattern in the evening sky, as if choreographed to perfection. It only lasted several moments, but it is a lasting memory of this daytrip and reason enough for already planning a return trip from Manchester to my hometown.

North Pier on the Fylde Coast near Blackpool on Mallory on Travel, adventure, photography Iain Mallory-300-10-1_north_pier

North Pier at its very best


Comments 9

  1. TheTuscan

    The first time I heard about Blackpool was while watching the movie “The Great Escape”, in which a character, looking at a row of lights inside a tunnel tells Charles Bronson: “It’s lovely, just like Blackpool at the height of the season!”

  2. Julie McNamee

    There’s nothing quite like a seaside resort in winter and these show Blackpool in a lovely light. It’s years since I’ve been there but I’m glad it’s been being cleaned up. I always thought there was a lot of potential there but hopefully it’ll never get too gentrified.

  3. Linda

    I thank you kindly for this update from our mutual neck of the woods. My father reported dire things about the renovations to the Promenade, but I think it’s because he would like a time machine to take him back to the 40s when he courted my mom.

    I was in Rossall in October and I loved the new Promenade there. We have stunning views across to the Lake District hills that evening. It was cold, but I felt that the new architecture utterly meshed with the natural landscape. I’ve been meaning to look up who designed it ever since. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Niall Horan

    Wow you have redefined this beautiful city! Great photos and your words have indeed given me many reasons to be there in this summer  thanks buddy. I wish to be settled there for good after my retirement may be we will own some small house or flats

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