Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Uncle Tom's Cabin in the 1890s. Albert Eden Collection

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a pioneer of Blackpool’s entertainment industry and became the resort’s first and most popular landmark for over half a century.

The original Uncle Tom’s Cabin evolved in 1851 when Margaret Parkinson set up a refreshment stall selling gingerbread and ginger beer to visitors walking along the cliff tops on Blackpool’s northern shores.

In the late 1850’s, a cabin was added and taken over by Robert Taylor and William Parker who continued the thriving business.

Over the years, they introduced other attractions including a dancing pavilion, a concert hall (with music hall artistes and burlesque turns), a photographic studio and camera obscura.

Following the introduction of liquor, spirits and an alcohol licence, visitors flocked to Uncle Tom’s Cabin in their thousands.

Uncle Tom's Cabin and other buildings, Albert Eden Collection

The name ‘Uncle Tom’ refers to Margaret’s brother-in-law, farmer Thomas Parkinson, who owned the land and whom her son referred to as ‘uncle Tom’.

To further promote the cabin, three wooden figures were erected representing the characters Uncle Tom, Little Eva and Topsy from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’, published in 1852.

Sadly, in 1907, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was taken down after part of the building collapsed into the sea because of erosion of the cliffs. The name lives on today, the licence being transferred to the present Uncle Tom's Cabin built close by.

Barry Shaw

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