Friday, 13 November 2015

Third Blackpool 1977 Album 2

Back once again to 1977 - a popular year at the moment on this blog, with articles on both Blackpool and the cinema from the pages of Film Review magazine currently ongoing!

Today we take an October visit to the Tower during the Illuminations. Before heading up to the lift for the top of the Tower, we'll stop to listen to the organ in the Tower Ballroom.

At this time, dancing was prohibited on Sundays and most people still adhered to the rule. The organist is Barry Jackson - Sorry! Harry Jackson, thanks to the sender of the comment below!

During the week the numbers of dancers had dropped from the heyday of hundreds of dancers on the floor. Here two couples and two children dance. Others sit at tables enjoying the music and dancing without feeling the need to join in. The ballroom was served by a bar at the rear of the room opposite the stage.

Heading up the floors of the Tower building to the roof garden. This had been the menagerie but was now transformed to a jungle adventure theme. Blackpool Zoo had taken the stock of animals, though there were a few flamingoes standing in one corner where a waterfall dropped into a small pool. There were a couple of monkeys too, in a cage at one end of the room - which I remember as consequently having a rather pungent smell. They soon joined their ex-colleagues at the zoo.

The trip up in the lift took a little longer than it does nowadays. For 1977 the Tower had been painted silver instead of the usual dark red. This was to commemorate the Queen's Silver Jubilee.

Here's a funny little memory: in the mid 1960s when I was about 12, there was one bit of wall at the top of the Tower that was whitewashed clean every year and then during the year visitors were allowed to write messages on it. I remember my brother and I decided to add my uncle's name and address and, as he was unmarried, we advertised for a girlfriend... And guess what? He got a letter! Not a whim on a free email, that wouldn't be possible for another 20 years. A real letter that someone had hand written, put into an envelope and paid for a stamp! He wasn't a bit amused...

A look south from the Tower top. No Big Wheel as yet graces the Central Pier and just before the pier to the left of the roadway lights the neon tower of Ripley's Odditorium can be seen.

Looking north past the North Pier, the Illuminations stretch along the cliffs past the Metropole Hotel and the Gynn towards Bispham.

Walking around the Tower top we look east over the town. The Winter Gardens is the most easily identified building. Littlewoods store is recognisable and the ABC is still open for business.

Looking down at the North Pier. These days when we can adjust our digital camera to sensitivities like 6400 ISO and take photos in near pitch dark it's easy to forget what it was like in the days of film. This was probably taken on 100 ASA (ISO) film. Without a tripod (hey and let's not forget that the Tower actually sways with the wind a bit) it would have been a miracle if I had managed to take a perfectly sharp photo. Most people started to introduce a bit of camera shake at 1/30th of a second. I had spent time as a professional photographer and could hand hold at around 1/4 of a second with 4 out of 5 photos being sharp. This probably needed a bit longer and I would have had the camera jammed against the railings.

As I turn the pages of this album, we'll take a look around the Pleasure Beach for the next article.


  1. Excellent pictures - a real joy to look at and read the memories.thanks for posting

  2. Hi, The organist is Harry Jackson, not Barry Jackson :)


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