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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Movers and Shakers

My classmates heading home from school in another era. Note the school caps and duffle coat dating this photo to the early 1960s. Blackpool Grammar School in the background behind the 'Halt' sign. Trams were running past it in those days.

Not a reference to large pantechnicons or a religious sect of the 1800s but more about individuals getting on with local initiatives, without need for large handouts

and oodles of roaming consultants and 'experts'. Whilst the ground shook in Layton last weekend attracting enormous crowds to witness the demise of three

Council tower blocks (surely an event earner missed by VisitBlackpool) - the doors

of the white tiled 'Regent' opened once more to welcome cinema goers. This landmark anchor structure has been revived both as an antiques centre, and now

as a big screen cinema, by the efforts of its new owner unaided by this or that fund.

I am told it was a sell out crowd for the first screening 'Pulp Fiction' with many turned away after queuing up outside - that is a first for the Regent. Now twice a

week screenings are planned of classic films from all era by request. This

'Peoples' Palace' is reviving part of the town centre long in decline. Hidden away in

the vicinity are the original Synagogue (disused); Raikes Hall Public House formerly part of the early Pleasure Gardens from the late 19th Century: of course

Blackpool Grammar School's classic structure, as well as fine restored Edwardian

villas expertly returned to individual homes facing on to Raikes Parade.

Below : a great Blackpool landmark - the former Regent Cinema

A pity Blackpool's other remaining original 'Picture House' on Central Drive, along with the adjoining King Edward VII public house could not similarly benefit from a touch of tlc from an enterprising benefactor. These are both important heritage structures deserving of more than a cursory reference for voguish heritage trail followers. More topical, and evidence of actual delivery, has been the latest artistic showcase of Sun Sea and Sand undertaken by Robin Ross and his lively supporters tucked away in a Fagan like habitat just off Abingdon Street. Bland exterior structural walls are now solid canvasses for visiting urban street artists whose creative styles have brought colour and impactive visuals on several streets. A pity the Lubyanka edifice housing Wilko's could not have benefitted from this year's initiative, but the structure's demise and demolition a la Layton flats is a silver lining we can look forward to. One less blot on the town.

Below : memorable designs adorning Blackpool walls in 2016

Work in progress on the site of the former Hippodrome - below

All Images Copyright John Woodman

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