I didn’t notice much different about Blackpool this week, and that’s fine with me. It displayed plenty of the qualities that made it famous, and the beach looked the best I’ve seen it. My phonecam can’t catch it, but the views to the Lakes were unexpectedly glorious.
In the Nineties we entertained a young guest from Mrs RM’s Head Office in Oslo. Over the course of a week this rounded entertainment included Adnams in Southwold, Stoke v Charlton and (ahem)
Rag Red Café in Manchester from a base in Letchworth.
We never did find out what our visitor would have made of Blackpool, but it would certainly feature on any UK tour I offered now.
Nowhere in Britain will you see so much life across the ages. Apart from the OAPs in the cabaret you’ll also see youngsters enjoying the sun. That inclusivity is a feature of the majestic Tower ballroom as well; I’ve never seen Strictly but just watching the afternoon dance sessions in that setting was a highlight. Shame about the beer choice.
The only real tidy-up I’ve noticed over 20 years is at Bloomfield Road and in Cedar Square around St. Johns, probably the closest Blackpool comes to a café quarter. I’m sure the newspapers (while they exist) will continue to talk about a gastro revolution in Blackpool based entirely in Lytham and the Fylde; it’s not needed here.
The pub architecture isn’t the best. Thwaites have the best of the pub stock, but Greene King fare quite badly. Not sure where they acquired so many of their sites from.
I wouldn’t visit for the pubs, though the two Sam Smiths houses in Bispham and Cleveleys are both relaxing places for a pint as much as cultural experiences. The town itself has just four central Beer Guide entries, the same as Poulton, and I didn’t notice any glaring omissions on my wander.
Two of those four are decent Wetherspoons, where I do sense there’s enough ale consumption to maintain a range. The closest to a beer-led free house is the Pump & Truncheon, unpromisingly situated opposite the police station and frankly in the scruffiest street in town.
The Rose & Crown, my new Blackpool Guide pub was a major surprise, as it was for Simon Everitt (see no.345),perhaps the only person outside the local CAMRA branch who could have predicted its success.
This is perhaps the plainest pub I’ve ever been it, apart from similar fun pubs in caravan parks that have the benefit of a chance to meet Bradley Bear and Anxious the Elephant. That may well make it a design classic in its own right.
Two choices of real ale too; Bombardier and Bombardier Gold. However, the former is superb (NBSS 3.5), and a vindication of CAMRA policy of putting pubs in the Beer Guide on beer quality alone. I look forward to Ma Kelly’s getting in next year with a great Tetley (possibly).
Nowhere in the North West is completely without architectural redemption however, and I finally tracked down the classic windows.