Newest Review: ... 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 v... more
The North Pier, Blackpool
Blackpool North Pier (England)
Member Name: micksheff
Blackpool North Pier (England)
Advantages: Lots of frsh air, easily accessiible by the disabled
Disadvantages: Small admission charge
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.
Summary: One of three piers in Blackpool