Those who have heard of Blackpool are likely to be aware of the three piers on the seafront. During our most recent trip to Blackpool, we visited all three piers and whilst North Pier wasn't the top of our list, we were looking for a way to kill some time on an early Sunday afternoon and were in the area. Here is our experience of the pier.
~North Pier, Blackpool~
North Pier is approximately 450 yards from Blackpool Tower and is serviced by both buses and trams. Opened in 1863, North Pier is the oldest pier in Blackpool. It is also the longest pier at 500m in length. North Pier extends out over the Irish Sea and is a Grade 2 listed pier. The pier is open 7 days a week from 1100hr-1600hr with there being different times for shows and events. Admission to the pier is free for all.
North Pier is home to regular events and shows including Jersey Boys and The Wizard of Oz - see www.northpierblackpool.co.uk for more information. Shows are also held within the Merrie England bar on the pier. Other attractions on the pier include a carousel, a Victorian sun lounge, Petulengros palm reader, amusement arcades and little shops selling fudge and ice cream. There is also the Carousel bar and North Perk for a drink or bite to eat.
Whilst I prefer the vibrancy of both Central and South pier, I enjoyed my visit to North Pier. The entrance is bright and welcoming. You can purchase donuts, ice cream or a drink just outside the entrance. Entry is via the amusement arcade or by cutting around the side of pier. If you visiting with someone in a wheelchair or with a pushchair, I would recommend using the side entrance as there is quite a number of stairs to navigate from the arcade onto the actual pier. Aside from this obstacle, the pier is otherwise flat and suitable for wheelchair users. Those who cannot walk well may find the journey to the end of the pier quite daunting as it is long walk.
Design wise, it is clear that North Pier is the oldest and less modern of all three piers. It has been well maintained, clean and tidy. I would say that the pier feels very traditional once you escape the amusement arcade which is all flashing lights and money, money, money. Our visit happened to be on a very rough, wet and windy day and to be fair, I was nervous about your walk along the pier. A track runs down the middle which leads me to believe there usually is or was some sort of tram or train that would take you to end of the pier but nothing was in operation during our visit.
Our walk along the pier wasn't as relaxing as it would be on a sunny and warm day as I was very much aware of how high the waves were underneath us! There is traditional seating around the sides of the pier which is quite low down so not perfect if visiting with young children. I had no intention of allowing my son near the seats anyway but on a nice day, I imagine it would be rather nice to side here with an ice cream cone. The views on a sunny day are impressive as you can see for miles along the sandy beaches.
We didn't spend too long on the pier due to the bad weather. We had a wander down to the Carousel bar near the end of the pier. It was quiet aside from a few people having a bite to eat. The food looked delicious and reasonable value for money according to the menu. We weren't long after breakfast so settled for a drink - £1.40 for a draught Pepsi and £1.00 for a Fruit Shoot. The Carousel bar was clean, spacious and tidy. The staff were friendly too with one offering my son a punch balloon despite us not actually spending much money. We relaxed at a table near the window and watched the waves crashing on the beach below - theraputic or frightening - you decide! We visited the toilets here and they were clean and tidy. There was a disabled toilet too but I didn't use it so cannot comment further.
The vintage carousel next to the bar was partially undercover and in operation during our visit but being soaking wet, we didn't go on - I believe it was £2.00 per person. It looked gorgeous and very unique being a two-tiered carousel whereby you could sit on a bench on the top tier or a horse/carriage on the bottom tier. Due to the rough weather, the area which would usually be covered in deck chairs was empty which does make the pier look less inviting and too quiet but that is to be expected. Also, the fudge and ice cream shop midway down the pier was closed which I was disappointed about.
We had a brief look in the little shops on the pier which included a music shop but nothing took our fancy. There was a little cafe serving coffee and cakes just before you head out on to the actual pier too. Heading back upstairs into a dry area, we arrived at the amusements. As you would expect, Blackpool is full of these type of arcades which encourage you to part with your hard earned cash. This arcade was no different to the other piers - lots of amusement machines from 10p a go and 2p machines too as well as teddy grab machines. There are toilets in this area but we didn't use them as we had used the toilets in the bar. It would be easy to spend a fortune here so you do need to be careful - we only spent a few pounds before heading back out in the rain.
Aside from the bright amusement arcade, North Pier does upkeep a traditional, old fashioned sort of feel. It is a nice pier which, on a good day, is better to experience. The pier itself doesn't have the same appeal to us as a young family as we like the rides on the other piers but if you are looking to have a relaxing stroll, a cake and coffee and a ride on a gorgeous carousel, then definitely visit North Pier. We would go back but on a sunny day. We haven't personally gone here for any shows but family have and have always enjoyed their experience.
Thanks for reading :)
Of the three Piers in Blackpool, this is both the largest & the oldest. On the 21 May 1863 pier was officially opened to 20,000 visitors with a grand ceremony. It was designed by Eugenius Birch (his second Pier) & is the only one of his piers still in use today & as such is a Grade II Listed building.
The Pier today functions as a Leisure Pier. At the very head you will find a video games arcade, the "Merrie England Bar" & a gift shop. People are allowed to walk up & down the pier & sit on it, although there is a small charge for entering. At then end of the pier you will find some fair ground rides including a Carousel. You will also find the North Pier Theatre. This is still in use to this day & plays host to shows on a daily basis which include Comedians, Cabaret & Concerts.
I like the Pier. You can get some lovely views of both the prom & the beach. Because of the revovations currently happening in Blackpool the view is getting prettier. The Pier is comfortable & cosy. It doesn't feel big & impersonal. Plus the shows tend to be reasonably priced usually around £10-£20 depending on where you sit.
If you think about the main English seaside resorts then the chances are that they will have a pier. There is something very quintessentially English about seaside piers and in Britain they are largely restricted to England, with a handful in Wales and none at all north of the border in Scotland.
Blackpool in the north west of England is unusual because it boasts three different piers. The North Pier, Central Pier and South Pier. As its name suggests The North Pier has the most northerly location of the three. It is also the oldest pier in the town and at 503 metres long it is also its longest pier.
Eugenius Birch was drafted in to design The North Pier. He had been responsible for the design of Britain's first seaside pier at Margate. This was his second pier project and following its success he would go on to design a further twelve English piers and the name Euginius Birch would soon become synonymous with English seaside piers for eternity.
An estimated 20,000 people gathered on the promenade on the 21st May 1863 to witness the official opening of The North Pier. Created largely as a leisure facility the pier became an instant success and within a little over a year of its official opening plans were being drawn up for Blackpool's second pier.
Whilst its principal design was for leisure it did also have a practical use and a landing jetty was created at its tip. This jetty was used for both commercial boats and pleasure boats and in 1857 the Pier Company was formed who operated steamboat pleasure trips from here.
Today, The North Pier is a Grade 2 listed structure and a major tourist attraction in the resort. A bar/pub was built at the far end of the pier in the 1960's called "The Merrie England Bar" and an amusement arcade was built at opposite end of the pier on the shore. By this time the jetty had long since ceased to be used and remained unused until it was transformed into a helipad during the 1980's.
The Merrie England Bar and the amusement arcade are still there, or at least they were during my most recent visit in September 2008.
One of the other main attractions on The North Pier is The North Pier Theatre. This stands on the far end of the pier close to the location of the original jetty. It dates from 1939 and can seat up to 1,500 people. The North Pier Theatre is actually the third theatre to stand on this same spot, both of its predecessors having succumb to fire. The original theatre was built in 1874 and destroyed by fire in 1921. The second theatre, built shortly after the destruction of the first burnt down in 1938. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the third and current one is more lucky.
Entry on to the pier is through the amusement arcade on the shore. There are also a couple of gift shops here too. It is free to enter this area but there is an admission charge of 50p for adults to enter on to the actual pier. Children, senior citizens and disabled visitors can however enter free. A turnstile at the payment kiosk leads onto the pier and at the side of this there is a door that can be opened to allow wheelchair users access to the pier.
The pier is perfectly flat and therefore a popular place for disabled visitors to come to. All along its length there are benches to sit on, some of which have parasols above them and there is no denying that this is a perfect place to chill out. When I visited here recently it was a lovely day and I can confirm that the pier is quite a sun trap. It was also not too overcrowded although I can imagine that at times during the peak holiday season that it can be.
When you part with your 50p admission fee you are given a booklet with money off vouchers. These include a free ride on the carousel plus money off vouchers at the bar on selected drinks and also money off ice creams and coffee etc. Not one to turn down a freebie I persuaded my other half to accompany me on the carousel ride which is located next to the theatre at the far end of the pier. This was probably the first time I had been on a carousel since I was a child and we had a great time!
I enjoyed visiting The North Pier and would certainly recommend it to anyone that is in Blackpool. The North Pier Theatre looks lovely from a distance but when you get up close it you realise that it is looking a little bit shabby and could do with a lick of paint but if you put this aside everything else along the pier is clean and tidy and during my visit there was no litter whatsoever.
At the end of the pier there are wonderful views to both the north and south and on a clear day you can see for miles. The North Pier is located quite close to Blackpool Tower about midway in the resort as opposed to at the northern end as its name might mislead you to think. The air always seems fresh and clean as you get out over the sea as well.
The North Pier is my favourite of the three piers at Blackpool. It is how I believe a real seaside pier should be. Originally this pier was called the Blackpool Pier and it is the oldest (1863) and longest (402 metres) of the three Blackpool piers. This is a pier to just stroll along and really enjoy the sea air. There is a small amusement arcade at the start of the pier, where there is also a coffee shop and a few other small shops. The pier is a traditional open promenade with wooden flooring, where you can see the sea through the gaps in the planks. All of the way along the pier on either side there are seats where you can just sit and relax and watch the world go by. If you don’t fancy walking to the end of the pier then you can save your legs by taking a ride on the pier tram (75p return – 50p single). Along the pier there are four small kiosks with shops and fortune tellers in them. At the end of the pier there is the Carousel Bar and the Sun Lounge. The Sun Lounge is glass sided and has an open roof. In here you can sit in a deck chair and enjoy the playing by the resident organist, although there is a charge of £1.50 per session. Also at the end of the pier is the North Pier Theatre. Here such artists as The Grumbleweeds and Alvin Stardust put on shows, together with a full production of supporting artists. Tickets for these shows are £12.50 each. For me this pier epitomises what an English seaside pier should be like, plenty of seating, fresh air and good old fashioned entertainment. Let’s just hope that nobody ever decides to modernise this pier.
I do like these new categories for the Blackpool piers! I started with the South Pier, which is my favourite, and now I thought I’d have a go at one on the North Pier too. Blackpool has three piers cleverly named the North Pier, Central Pier and South Pier, all of which have free access at all times. The North Pier is situated at the end of the main part of the town, just before you reach the Metropole Hotel, and can be easily reached by the bus, which runs along the seafront, or from the famous Blackpool Trams, which stop right outside the pier. As a point of interest the tram stop outside the North Pier is also the stop where you board the illuminated trams for the illuminations tour. The North Pier was the first pier to be opened in Blackpool in 1863 and is a Grade II listed building. This is the first pier that we visit when we get to Blackpool as we always stay at The Imperial which is farther along on the North Promenade and it’s a nice walk down as far as the pier. At the landward end of the pier there is a big amusement arcade containing a wide variety of machines from the two penny push off types to the complicated bandit types with flashing lights and nudges galore – most of which baffle me completely! There are also toilets in here. There is a café next to the arcade selling tea, coffee, snacks and light meals either to eat in or to takeaway. Next to the café is The Merrie England Showbar. This is a large pub with a dance floor and resident DJ. I have seen people queuing up waiting for this place to open at 11 o’clock in the morning! It is extremely popular and gets very busy at peak times so it’s quite difficult to get served. The café has a counter opening into the pub as well, so you can get something to eat – to soak up the alcohol! We’ve only been in here once a couple of years ago when we were in Blackpool for the illuminations. It was
a Monday and was quite quiet so it wasn’t too bad at all and the music was good. I wouldn’t fancy it when it was packed though! The other side of the amusement arcade is the entrance through to the pier itself and beyond that a small gift shop selling the usual seaside gifts. The North Pier is the most traditional of the three piers in my opinion, as it has not only retained the wrought ironwork and wooden floors, but it has no fairground rides apart from a set of gallopers (the old fashioned carousel) situated at the seaward end of the pier. There is a tram, which runs the length of the pier for those who don’t feel like walking. There is seating all the way along the pier as well so that you can sit and watch the world go by as you soak up the sun – when we have some! At the end of the pier there is the famous North Pier Theatre where many famous acts have played over the years. Roy (Chubby) Brown is usually on there one day a week, if you like that sort of thing. He’s not our cup of tea so I can’t comment any further. The rest of the week is taken up by a traditional seaside show usually with someone famous at the top of the bill. The last time I went to this theatre I saw Les Dennis and his late partner Dustin Gee and they were brilliant! There is also a bandstand at the end of the pier with a covered sun terrace containing deckchairs, which usually appeals to the, how can I put this, more mature holidaymakers! There was an organist playing when we went a walk along the pier in June this year. He was good enough but again not really our cup of tea! Another, smaller, amusement arcade is situated at the seaward end of the pier, again containing a variety of machines – sadly this is more our cup of tea! I say sadly because we always end up loosing – but then that’s the whole idea isn’t it? If we manage to come out of one arcade with more money than when
we went in you can bet we’ll loose it in the next! It’s a good job we only play the machines when we’re on holiday! Oh, one more thing, there is an ice cream shop at the end of the pier too! I told you it was traditional didn’t I?