Highlights from a year of interviews with the people who make Blackpool the great place it is today

Grand Theatre archivists Geoff and Linda Tolson, at the theatre in Blackpool.
Grand Theatre archivists Geoff and Linda Tolson, at the theatre in Blackpool.

For the past few months The Gazette has been running a weekly series of My Blackpool feature articles - championing and celebrating the people that make Blackpool the unique place it is

Today we look back at some of the highlights which make their Blackpool our Blackpool for today and well into the future.

John Childs Managing Director of The Sandcastle

John Childs Managing Director of The Sandcastle

Andy Mitchell, Head of News at Radio Wave:

“Blackpool is coming back definitely. Things that we’ve seen improved in the last six or seven years are things that you are proud of when you show guests round.

“I always think we take a lot for granted because it’s all around us. But when people come up from London and elsewhere and you show them round, you start to subconsciously take on the mantle of being a tour guide.

“Things that you never imagined would be a selling point for the town become one. Like the traffic, it’s so busy, but it’s a busy town, you wouldn’t expect the roads to be clear in a town that’s successful.”

There is the will amongst the majority of people to make Blackpool a good place to live and a good place to visit

Canon Andrew Sage

Dave Daley, Landlord of The Castle Pub:

“I live and work on a great street which is vilified – Central Drive. It has a casino at one end and a mosque at the other which is fantastic. With Eastern Europeans in the middle, and three pubs - it’s a diverse street, it’s even got ladies of the night along with locals and holidaymakers. It’s a great street in a unique resort.”

John Childs, Managing Director of The Sandcastle:

“Blackpool has some fantastic things – we are just such an easy target to criticise. But look at the beach, the sea, the promenade – and the quality of its attractions. The town has made some massive leaps forward. The fact that so many people still come is testimony to the fact that we are still doing a pretty good job.”

Shirley Hunt from the Cranstone Hotel and Friends of Illuminations

Shirley Hunt from the Cranstone Hotel and Friends of Illuminations

Geoff and Linda Tolson, Grand Theatre Archivists:

“Our hearts and lives are here, we are fiercely loyal to Blackpool. It has its bad areas but everywhere does. Blackpool has an awful lot going for it.

“Blackpool is on the way up. This whole notion of the heritage museum is exciting. People are astonished when you say it was the first town in the world to have electric street lighting or the first tramway, or the first working class resort.

“We are always proud to show people round the Grand and the work that’s gone on in the Winter Gardens is great, it has revealed so many hidden treasures.”

Shaun Pickup from Dahlia's Kitchen and Farm Shop

Shaun Pickup from Dahlia's Kitchen and Farm Shop

Robin Ross, Artist and founder of the Sand, Sea and Spray art festival:

“It’s a great time to be in Blackpool because it’s starting to be more creative, it’s starting to look at itself and reject the image created by horrible tv programmes.

“That’s not Blackpool. It’s easier to sensationalise the bad things than look for the good. Blackpool has some great things. Take the Grand Theatre – it’s one of the most stunning theatres anywhere in the world.”

Elaine Smith: Community stalwart:

“I always feel like saying if you don’t like Blackpool there are two ways out. Love it or leave it, you don’t have to be here. When you go somewhere else come back and tell me if that’s so brilliant.

“Blackpool is magic. It was fairyland when I came here as a 10-year old, I’m 80 now and I’m still in fairlyland after all these years.”

Andy Mitchell in the Radio Wave studio

Andy Mitchell in the Radio Wave studio

Sarah Julie Petulengro, Fortune teller:

“There’s no place like Blackpool, really, when you think about it. It’s got everything – the piers, the shows, the beach, the Pleasure Beach, the Tower, everything.

“There’s nothing better than getting yourself an ice cream, walking down North Pier to the Carousel Bar, looking at the lovely views, listening to the organist in the Sun Lounge, there’s nothing like it, it takes all your worries away.”

Mick Grewcock, Owner of the Burbage Holiday Group Apartments:

“It actually hurts me, the perception some people have about Blackpool but we’ve got to get above it. Where else have you got a Pleasure Beach, a zoo, three piers, a Winter Gardens, the Grand Theatre, Stanley Park, Merlin’s attractions, the Lake District up the road and the Trough of Bowland?

“It’s a big village, everybody knows everybody in the leisure industry, there’s always something on, there’s not a tree and it’s damned windy, but it’s fantastic.”

Shaun Pickup, Blackpool Pride chairman and trustee and Dahlia’s Kitchen owner:

“My partner and I restore classic cars and when we have chance we go off touring the country. We’ll be in a resort in Wales or down on the South Coast, and there’s nothing to do, so we come back to Blackpool.

“If we came here as an outsider there’s so much to do….. just a walk along the promenade is enough to remind you.”

Canon Andrew Sage, Vicar of St Stephen on-the-Cliffs:

“There is the will amongst the majority of people to make Blackpool a good place to live and a good place to visit.

“I see a lot of people working very hard in the background trying to make Blackpool a good place to be. I have high hopes for the town.

“Whereas for quite a long time it was a case of ‘what can I get out of Blackpool and put the least back in,’ there are people now who are beginning to think what can I do for the long term, what can we do to make it a better place?”

Norry Ascroft (aka Lionel Vinyl), DJ and life coach:

“Stand back a bit and look at Blackpool Tower, the shows, the piers – everything is there but it’s clouded by negatives.

“We take too much for granted – our clubs, djs, entertainers are brilliant. If people don’t like Blackpool that’s their problem, not ours.

“Programmes like 999 What’s Your Emergency are a con. They’re entertainment not documentaries. They get more viewers with negative stories. It’s human behaviour – people think by comparison their life’s not that bad after all.”

Shirley Hunt, Guest house proprietor and Illuminations ambassador:

“It’s sad that more of us don’t get the chance to be a tourist for a day very often. I love Blackpool – it’s in me now even though I wasn’t born here.

“I love meeting people. During my time as an Illuminations ambassador I’ve absolutely loved it because I’ve met so many nice people that I wouldn’t have ever met otherwise. There are so many amazing people in this town.

“I keep thinking if I ever sell up and move away would I come back – and, yes, I would, because I’ve met so my nice people – and it’s not like Blackpool is the only place with problems is it?

“Too many people take what we’ve got for granted.

“Because we’ve got so much available on our doorsteps we don’t take advantage of it which is a shame because we’ve got so much to offer.”

What does Blackpool mean to you?

The Gazette has launched a new weekly series championing and celebrating the people that make Blackpool the incomparable place it is. The Gazette is Blackpool’s biggest supporter and will continue to be so, every day we feature your achievements and success stories. We’re giving Sandgrown’uns and the town’s army of supporters a platform to tell us why you think Blackpool is great, why you fell in love with the place, what challenges you think it faces and why we should stand up and show the ill-informed critics a more realistic picture. We want you to get involved - tell us who you think we should feature. Who embodies the spirit of Blackpool? Who is the every day person who can inspire others to focus on celebrating the town rather than castigate? This is your town, your paper, your voice.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Contact

• by email andy.sykes@blackpoolgazette.co.uk

• by phone (01253) 361842

• twitter: @andyjsykes

• www.facebook.com/BlackpoolGazette

Canon Andrew Sage at St Stephen on the Cliffs Church

Canon Andrew Sage at St Stephen on the Cliffs Church

Psychic Sarah Petulengro, who has a booth on the Pleasure Beach

Psychic Sarah Petulengro, who has a booth on the Pleasure Beach