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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

7 October Wanderings

John Woodman

The contrast between ongoing demolition of the concrete jungle which was Wilkos and almost complete new hotel structure on the site of what had been Yates Wine Lodge facing on to Talbot Square - and the also almost complete hotel structure on the Promenade is both inspiring and depressing. Starting with intensive demolition work now well underway removing all physical vestiges of the 1960s structure which replaced Blackpool's original 'Talbot Road Railway Station' and moving to the lower (seaward) end of Talbot Road where an impressive new building now dominates Talbot Square. Full marks to the architects and property owners for providing the town with a classic new landmark building - complete with tasteful external metalwork. Even the grand old Clifton hotel property is finally undergoing a facelift with sympathetic treatment of its heritage (listed) structure.

However these very enlightened investments are counterbalanced by what can only be described as 'giant funeral parlour' on the former Palatine Hotel site adjoining the classic late 1930s 'Woolworths' building thankfully still standing. A grotesque black framed structure complete with dark glazing now dominates the promenade like a giant carbuncle sharing the space with the equally downmarket 'amusement arcade' on what had been formerly Central Station terminal building. The much lauded Blackpool 'Museum' on which umpteen amounts of funding has already been expended is to be shoe-horned into this black mausoleum intended as a visitor attraction embracing all that was entertaining in the resort over the previous century.

Quite evidently the town's physical wellbeing has been completely disregarded by the 'Lubyanka' school of design signed off by the developer (and approved by the Council). Appropriately sited directly opposite the Woolworth building across Adelaide Street and contrasting sharply the respective merits of building design over several generations of architects. Somehow someone has got this badly wrong.

Talbot Square and what purports to be 'civic space' is also badly in need of a centre piece to complement the new hotel, Town Hall and Clifton Hotel property. The less said about the north side of the Square the better harbouring as it does innumerable drinking establishments, where once commercial transactions flourished in a prospering town. At least we will have the pleasure of hearing and seeing modern trams traversing to and from the Promenade up to Blackpool's North Station - transforming this mostly run down strip of properties that make up Talbot Road.

The Council's vision for regenerating 'Talbot Gateway' is being incrementally realised in far more straitened circumstances than those which prevailed in recent decades. Full marks to the professionals and managers responsible for Bickerstaffe House and reclad Bus Station structure - credit where credit is due. Not to forget the Sainsbury company and its architects for their impressive rendering of commercial retail space and accompanying garage. Now if only the replacing development on the site of Wilkos store is as equally enthralling - complete with tram terminus and railway terminal access - the resort may present a positive welcoming image to our visitors arriving by train in the century ahead.

I will get on to the green element in due course.

Contractors hard at work today on the Wilko property : Keep at it men !

The entire impression of Talbot Square looking east is permanently enhanced by completion of the new hotel structure. Well done. We just need the trams running on both sides as they did from 1902 - heading to Layton on Talbot Road and to Marton up Clifton Street. Below :

Less impressive is the black edifice which has emerged on the promenade to frighten the horses and deter the unwary from entering. All images taken today by the Author.

Readers will notice no doubt format changes on the blog brought about by a new set of instructions from the hosting company installed this past week.


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