Books Magazine

A Characterful Town

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
Blackpool.  A town that creates imagery when its name is spoken.  In a positive way?  Hmmmmmm.
As someone who has an interest in Blackpool's local history, especially the Revoe area, I have enjoyed reading countless books on the town's past.  I am far from being an "expert", but do find it fascinating. Ask yourself, how much do you know about the town in which we live?  If it isn't necessarily very much, I encourage you wholeheartedly, to go to your local library and take out some of the fantastic array of books on Blackpool.  It would appear that this town is as much about the Characters who lived here, as it is about the place itself. A symbiotic relationship of sorts. Its very identity has been sculpted by not only the Forefathers who put in place the essentials, or the artists/acts who have visited and entertained millions over the years, but the day to day people who came here to make a living. That's right, came here.  This town was developed by "Incomers" for the most part.  Going right back, there were very few residents on this barren and windswept promontory which stretched much further out seaward than our current coastline.  Along with the weather over the years, it is clear that there have been many Characters who have sculpted Blackpool into what it has become today.
I have two poems about our interesting town, and was torn between which to use.  One is entitled "Origins" and is about the area from the year dot. Whilst the following one, which I decided to use in the end, is from more "recent" times, when the Tourism Industry had taken a hold in Blackpool's heyday.  It is also the poem which marked the start of my relationship with the Lancashire Dead Good Poets' Society.  A edited version of this was featured in the Chapbook entitled "A Poets' Guide To Blackpool".  This book contains some excellent poetry about the Town by a number of members of The Lancashire Dead Good Poets'.
Crowds of people, so many to see, 
disembark from their trains, amid clouds of steam. 
Thousand would come for the "Wakes" week, 
Ready for enjoyment and lodgings to seek. 
An older era, more innocent it seems, 
such simple pleasures, to stay by the sea. 
A walk along the Promenade, or to sit upon the piers, 
music from bands, a delight to their ears. 
Exhilaration at the Pleasure Beach, or a stroll around the park, 
A ride on a tram car, memories to hold on to and mark. 
Pick up a postcard to send greetings back home, 
Special messages and pictures in the form of a tome. 
Stalls as far as the eye can see, 
stretch out for miles with money to reap. 
Come rain or shine, these people would come, 
Saving pennies each week, to bring a princely sum. 
But all too soon the tide must turn, 
Receding to their platforms, the crowds must return. 
Embarking upon their train, again amidst clouds of steam, 
Holding on to souvenirs of their time by the sea. 

Fast forward through time, and what do we see? 
Hundreds of people, come and stay by the sea. 
Not in numbers of old, those days are gone, 
In favour of trips abroad, Blackpool is shunned. 
The town has changed, too many Stag and Hen Do's, 
music pumping from bars and clubs with the promise of booze. 
So many empty shops, because businesses have closed, 
Late breakfasts in lodgings, people can't be roused. 
They stay out late and party all night, 
Early in the morning's out streets look a fright. 
Litter as far as the eye can see, 
a dirty little town, known for it's sleaze. 

However, one thing has not changed, through that time and this, 
Standing tall and proud, too hard to miss. 
Blackpool Tower, the symbol of our town, 
it's head in the clouds, looking gracefully down. 
Majestic in stance, it endures the test of time, 
Through wind and rain and of course the sea brine. 
What would it think of how Blackpool has become? 
Too speechless for words, completely stunned? 
The town has changed along with the times, 
not necessarily for the better, it no longer shines. 
Sure, we have the illuminations which beam through the night sky, 
But this is not natural light, it glares on the eye. 
We need to take a stand and tell our officials, 
"that's part of the problem, Blackpool's too artificial!" 
No thought for the people who keep this town going, 
normal folk, you and I, who keep the cash flowing. 
Stand shoulder to shoulder, believe in the cause, 
Blackpool IS a town to be so proud of! 
Against all the odds, Blackpool will survive! 
As long as the RESIDENTS keep the spirit alive! 
Return to the days when families came to stay, 
We should try to attract them, not drive them away. 
So once again, Blackpool must change, 
Alter our attractions, and widen our range. 
No more cheap looking gimmick's, that won't draw in the crowds, 
or continental looking plaza's that make pedestrians frown. 
Stand up to it's motto, we must not regress, 
purely for the better, Blackpool must PROGRESS!
The people who have lived and worked here over the years are the Foundation Stones on which our Town has been built into the Characterful place it has become.  Each of those people had their own identity and story to tell.  Many our our streets bear their names for posterity.  Let's not forget them.  Go and dig out their story.  We owe them that at least.  Perhaps we'll be able to see where the current leaders are going wrong.
On a further note, a special event to celebrate the rich history of the Revoe Community, one of the oldest in town, will be held next month at the Ibbison Court Day Centre.  It will feature historic photo's of the very Characters who helped to build this town alongside images of past and present buildings.  The display will take place on Tuesday 4th February between 12.30pm and 2pm.  A donation of £2 will go towards funds for the Centre, off Central Drive (next to The George Pub), with a buffet served for everyone involved.
Thanks for reading. :-)

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