Blackpools surprising past

There are many web sites on the internet which tell the historical story of Blackpool. However we would like to tell you about some of the lesser known facts which we think are more interesting!

 

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From Swallow Cars to Jaguar Cars

It all begain when Bill Lyons met William Walmsley in Blackpool, they were interested in motorcycles. Bill Lyons was a motorcycle enthusiast, and William Walmsley built sidecars. On 4th September, 1922 they formed the Swallow Sidecar Company and began to produce sidecars in a building on Bloomfield Road. They decided to extend their product range to include car bodies and moved to a modern purpose-built coachbuilding factory was up for sale at 41 Cocker Street. In 1927 the company name was changed to The Swallow Sidecar and Coach Building Company.

Swallow began to purchase new Austin Seven chassis from a dealer in Bolton and fit them with a luxurious, stylish, 2-seater, open tourer body, made of aluminium on a wooden frame this was called Austin Seven Swallow. It was popular, and in 1928 a 4-seater saloon was launched, along with the Morris Cowley Swallow. In Blackpool they could only produce two a day and so in 1928 they decided to move to an old 40,000sqft. ammunition factory at Foleshill in Coventry.

In 1935 Bill Lyons founded S.S. Cars Limited. He put the Swallow Coachbuilding Company into voluntary liquidation, and founded the Swallow Coachbuilding Company (1935) Limited. S.S. Cars Limited concentrated on manufacturing cars and later became Jaguar.
For a more detailed look at the Swallow Car history - click here
For a Swallow Sidecars / Swallow Coachbuilding index - click here


Swallow Sidecars in Blackpool

Swallow sidecars and sports cars in Blackpool

 

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Blackpool Flying high

In 1909 Blackpool's Squires Gate Airport held Britain's first official major air show. The breathtaking show was watched by 200,000 spectators! This was also the year that the French aviator Louis Bleriot made the first crossing of the English Channel.

First British Flying Meeting 1909
Photo showing the long distance winner in flight. First British Flying Meeting at Blackpool 1909.

In 1939 the airfield was developed for the Royal Air Force, runways, hangars and ammunitions stores were built. Around the same time a large aircraft factory was constructed. This was and occupied by Vickers from 1941 until the end of World War Two. Vickers produced a total of 3,841 Wellington bombers over this time, all of which were test flown from Blackpool Airport's existing runways.

Squires Gate is now an international aiport used by around 4000,000 passengers a year, traveling to many destinations including:- Palma, Tenerife, Murcia, Alicante, Belfast, Gerona, London and Dublin. With this list growing each year Blackpool really is 'Flying High'.

 

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From Airport to Zoo

Blackpool Zoo is situated on the site of Blackpool Municipal Airport which opened in 1931. In 1939 it become Stanley Park Aerodrome and was used in World War II by the RAF as aparachute training centre. Large aircraft hangars were built and Wellington bombers were assembled and flown from the site. The pioneering English aviator Amy Johnson, CBE, is known to have flown from, the zoo site. After the war finishes the airport is closed, as the Squires Gate site was found to be more suitable. The hangers are now used by Blackpool Borough Council for storing the illuminations.

From 1953 to 1972 the site was used by The Royal Lancashire Show, England 's oldest county agricultural show. After 1972 the show moved to a new site Ribby Hall, Wrea Green to make way for the development of a zoo. As the council started to build the Zoo on the Airport site Blackpool Tower decided to close the zoological collection in the Tower building. In 1972, ten years after the first suggestion of a zoo, it finally opens on July 6th. Blackpool Zoo was opened by Mr. Johnny Morris (T.V. Animal Magic fame) riding on an elephant accompanied by the Mayor who rode in a Rolls Royce.

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Local Personalities (past and present)

Blackpool has been the birthplace and home to a number of notable people these include:
• Chris Lowe – musician from the Pet Shop Boys
• Violet Carson – Coronation Street actress who played the part of Ena Sharples
• Jimmy Clitheroe – British comedy actor died 1973
• Alistair Cooke – journalist and commentator
• Victoria Christina Hesketh - musician known as Little Boots
• John Mahoney – actor most known for playing Frasier's father in the show Frasier (Born in Bispham)
• Jodie Prenger – singer and actress
• Brian London – boxer (fought Muhammad Ali)
• Syd Little – comedian part of Little and Large
• Lennie Bennett – comedian
• Charlie Cairoli – famous clown, born in Milan but lived in Blackpool from 1939 to his death in 1980
• Dave Ball - musician from Soft Cell
• The Nolans - singers, actors, presenter they do everything!
• Peter Purves - Blue Peter presenter (went to Arnold School in Blackpool)
• Scott Wright – actor from Coronation Street
• Frank Swift – footballer played for Manchester City and England
• Trevor Wilkinson - founded TVR Sports Cars
• Amy Johnson CBE - a pioneering English aviator (flew at Blackpool in the Second World War)
• Sir Stanley Matthews, CBE - Blackpool Footballer and England Captain

 

Sir Stanley Mathews playing at Blackpool Football Club

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Image Gallery

Stage door at Feldmans Theatre with Ted Forshaw Feldmans-aftershowparty Feldmans or Queens Theatre in Blackpool - pic showing Ted Foreshaw in centre Feldmans Theatre - The front of house manager was Mrs Edwards or Mrs E Mr Forshaw becomes the new manager at Feldmans Theatre Julie Andrews at Queens theatre Blackpool

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*All information correct at time of publishing 2013

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The aim of this web site is to inform visitors to Blackpool about all the great attractions in and around the town. We have supplied LINKS, PHOTOS and VIDEOS to help visitors as well as ACCOMMODATION listings. If you have found this web site helpful please tell all your friends about it. Thank you

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