Some of them need no introduction. The Pleasure Beach is world famous and is as popular a tourist attraction as ever, particularly on the sunny Saturday we paid a visit. The original Blackpool Odeon is a giant that was never surpassed for size by Oscar Deutsch and Harry Weedon, an absolute beauty of Art Deco design that was actually built almost at the end of the period, just months before WW2 broke out in 1939.
These buildings are well known and loved, but others in this piece are not so recognisable. I am indebted to the help of the History of Blackpool group on Facebook for sharing their knowledge in the creation of this post, or pointing me in the right direction once again.
Former Burton Store, 66-74 Promenade
It’s most recent use was as a Los Iguanas restaurant, but this impressive, curved, art deco building was once a beautiful Burton store. I’m not entirely sure when it opened as Burton, but work started on this building in 1921 when the previous building on the site was demolished. (The Albion Hotel and Restaurant ). It has been a Burger King as well as Los Iguanas, but now once again lies empty.
It is a glorious building, full of Art Deco period features that we a given for Montague Burton’s in house design team. I have no idea if it had the signature commemoration stones seen on many Burton buildings.
Former Blackpool Odeon, now Funny Girls, Dickson Rd.
The former Blackpool Odeon is the largest, and one of the most impressive of the cinema chain. It opened in May 1939 with seating available for 3,088. It originally closed as a cinema in 1998, but was reopened as a gay nightclub Flamingos and the drag cabaret show Funny Girls, with tasteful restorations made.
Even today, the sheer scale of the former cinema impresses, and you get a sense of what it would’ve been like in its heyday.
Blackpool Pleasure Beach Entrance And Casino
The entrance to Blackpool Pleasure Beach, with its curves and spiral white tower, are brilliant examples of Art Deco by the sea, with an almost futuristic look to them. Dating from 1938, the art deco entrance was similarly echoed by many of the attractions inside, including the incredible Grand National.
It was a gloriously sunny day when I visited, and so was hard to capture the scale of the tower but the entrance gleamed in the sunshine and I love that so much of the signage is decidedly Deco.
The Former Washington Pub, Now Websters
This vintage 1930s pub lay empty for some years with squatters inhabiting it, until it was taken over and turned into Websters, a coffee house, bar and grill.
The Blackpool Gazette reported:-
It was originally The Washington but has for many years been named after the Central Pier impresario Uncle Peter Webster, who used to let youngsters have their first crack at fame on stage, years before TV’s The X Factor. (link to post here.)
The white tiles used on the building, the rule of three for the windows and the fabulous sunshine detail all mark this as an Art Deco treasure, that is thankfully being given a second chance.
Shoemarket, formally Talbots Fruit and Veg
Once again the good people of the History of Blackpool Facebook page have come to my rescue with details about the original use of Shoemarket, telling me that it was (Tom) Talbots Fruit and Veg.
It has the feel of a 1930’s streamline moderne building and is recognised as having merit in a study SOUTH-BEACH-Historic-Townscape-Characterisation-Assessment-August-2009.
The 1930s ‘Shoemarket’ (formerly a fruit shop) on an island site to the west of Bolton Street is also of merit and retains its original fenestration pattern of large shop-windows.
I love the geometric shape, made to fill a corner, and the raised tower section that has a resemblance to the Odeon’s who often had a tower or a fin shape.
The New Market, Former Queen’s and Brighton Motor Co
This glorious building, covered in Faience tiles, is another that I have to thank the History of Blackpool group for. It has been a market since the mid 1970s, and many people have very fond memories of it. Others mentioned it being a car dealership for Renault in the 1960’s and possibly doing repairs too.
But further back, and probably it’s initial purpose, it seems this beautiful building was the Queens’ and Brighton Motor Company. It was listed as this in Austin Publication in 1929, which certainly ties in with the age and look of the building.
The Queen’s and Brighton Motor Co., Waterloo Rd., South Shore, Blackpool. Tel. 41256. TA. Automobile, Blackpool AP. Year 29 36 37. Agt. Austin (from https://prewardealerships.wordpress.com/blackpool/)
The Victoria Centre formally a market hall, now a play and game zone.
The Victoria Centre is a strange one. It has the look of an old cinema, but although Waterloo Road did have at least two cinemas, this was not one of them. It was built in the 1930s as a market Hall, on the site of a former market hall, and has been a market ever since, although these days the signs seem to point more towards soft play for children.
The Dutton Arms
Another 1930’s pub building that has nods to deco, mainly in it’s lovely vintage signage and the font used.
And New Deco Emerging…
Like most towns, Blackpool is constantly evolving, and as old buildings disappear, new ones rise up to take their place. This building is the new Premier Inn, built in a classic art deco style in Talbot Square. I really like this building, feeling it adds to the character of the area rather than detracting from it.