Earlier this year, Her Majesty The Queen became the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee after 70 years of service. During Jubilee weekend people throughout the country will get involved in events to celebrate Her Majesty’s historic reign.
The celebrations have prompted our team to look back at some of the most memorable royal visits to the resort over the years.
Recently we worked with a group of history students from the University of Central Lancashire who delved into our collections to explore Blackpool’s first royal visit. Princess Louise and the Duke of Argyll unveiled a new section of Blackpool promenade, aptly named Princess Parade on the 2 May 1912. Not only was the opening day an immensely memorable day for the town, it also marked the beginning of the Blackpool Illuminations as we know it today.
Just over a year later, Blackpool received another royal visit. This was to be the first ever from a reigning monarch on the 8 July 1913. King George V and Queen Mary visited the resort during their Lancashire tour. On the day of the visit, Blackpool was in gala mode. Flags and banners flew, while residents and holidaymakers in their thousands assembled along the royal route from St. Annes. Cheers could be heard from the crowd as the King and Queen made their way to Gynn Square, passing the assembled school children on the middle walk. Back then to Talbot Square the royal car received a colorful welcome. Soldiers, Blackpool Artillery Territorial detachment, scouts, girl guides, Arnold House cadets and nurses assembled in the square, to welcome the monarch, surrounded by thousands of spectators.
There were similar scenes on the streets of Blackpool a quarter of a century later when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited the resort on the 17 May 1938. The King and Queen who were visiting the Fylde received a wonderful reception from cheering crowds of over 100,000. It was a day of smiles and cheers all the way.
However one of the most memorable Royal visits to Blackpool came in 1955. Wednesday 13 April, marked the night of the royal gala at the Blackpool Opera House. Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh attended the royal performance, rounding off a 12 hour day of engagements in Lancashire.
Royal Illuminations to mark the occasion were switched on in Church Street between King’s Square and the Opera House. The Queen had been particularly impressed by the gold and purple Illuminations which lit the final stage of her journey into Blackpool. After driving through streets packed with over 250,000 people and gracing the first royal performance to be held outside London, the Queen told the Mayor; ‘It was very beautiful and very wonderful.’
On the 22 July 1994, the Fylde was laying out the red carpet once again to greet the monarch for the first time in almost 40 years. This time, the royal couple were helping two famous Blackpool landmarks celebrate 100 years - The Grand Theatre and Blackpool Tower.
It was a day of sunshine and smiles as the royal visit became the crowning glory of Blackpool’s centenary celebrations. The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Rossall school, were treated to a tour of the Grand Theatre and then became the first royals to visit the top of the tower.
The most recent royal visit to Blackpool was in 2009. An evening that will go down as one of the brightest nights in Blackpool history. With the Tower and Golden Mile lit up for the occasion and the Winter Gardens sparkling, as a laser show lit the building in preparation for the royal arrival. Monday 7 December marked the night of the 81st Royal Variety performance. One of Blackpool’s biggest entertainment nights in 54 years, held at the Opera House in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. The evening was hosted by comedian Peter Kay and the sparkling line-up included Hollywood A-listers; Whoopi Goldberg, Bette Midler and Miley Cyrus. It certainly was an evening fit for a Queen!
Not forgetting other royal visits to the resort over the years, including:
Edward Prince of Wales, 8 July 1921
Duke of Kent, 21 October 1937
Princess Alexandra, 18 April 1962
Duke of Edinburgh, 1 May 1979
Prince Charles, 29 May 1981
Princess Anne, 2 May 1984
Princess Diana, 2 July 1991, 24 August 1992