After a good night’s sleep we enjoyed the Ibis buffet breakfast which was included in our room rate. The breakfast room features a seaside theme with imitation sticks of Blackpool rock adorning it’s walls. The restaurant overlooks the sea so we were able to watch the trams pass along the promenade whilst we were sipping our morning cups of coffee.
After checking out of the hotel we made use of our second PlusBus ticket by catching a No.11 bus from nearby Corporation Street to St. Annes-on-Sea. The bus took 30 minutes to reach St. Annes, only a short journey but a complete contrast to the bright lights of Blackpool. Leaving the bus in the main square we started off by taking a stroll along the seafront.
Overlooking the square lies the town’s Victorian pier which was constructed in 1885. With its Tudor style entrance it reflects the town’s heritage and exudes a feeling of grandeur even if it’s clock is no longer working. Stepping inside though we were saddened to notice that it’s now one big amusement arcade full of slot machines. There’s a small cafe and one or two kiosks selling seaside paraphernalia but that’s about it. The outside area at the end of the pier was closed to visitors as some maintenance work was taking place. The pier used to boast both a Pavilion and a Floral Hall but both were destroyed by fire in separate incidents. The length of the pier was reduced by 314 ft to 600 ft when the jetty at the seaward end was demolished and the remains of the jetty can be seen on the above photograph.
On leaving the pier we strolled through the promenade gardens passing the Victorian bandstand and ornamental fountain, both of which had been carefully restored and surrounded by ponds and neat flower borders.
Returning to the seafront we spotted these newly constructed beach huts which looked very stylish and are available to rent by the day or week, offering uninterrupted views over the Irish Sea.
A short stroll inland took us to the town centre where we found some inviting small shops on either side of the broad square. There’s little evidence of flashy Blackpool here, as St. Annes gives visitors an impression of affluence with its stylish cafes and boutiques on tree lined avenues. After pausing for coffee in a cafe on Wood Street we returned by bus to Blackpool just as it had started to rain.
The rain was falling heavily when we arrived back into Blackpool but that didn’t matter too much as we wanted to look inside the Winter Gardens complex which comprises a collection of theatres, exhibition halls and a ballroom. Constructed in 1878, visitors are welcome indoors without charge and we enjoyed viewing the Art Deco interior and marvelling at its elegant Empress Ballroom.
The Winter Gardens has over the years hosted the conferences of all three main UK political parties and that of several Trades Unions. Its Opera House is one of the country’s largest theatres seating 3,000 people and still attracts top performers to its stage.
In the Opera House foyer we were interested to view a recent statue of the comedy legends Morecambe and Wise. This bronze statue was unveiled in 2016 to commemorate more than 1,000 appearances of the comedy duo in Blackpool, their spiritual home.
Still raining heavily, we made good use of our day tickets by taking a No.2 bus to the small market town of Poulton-le-Fylde five miles away. The town centre is in a conservation area and the historic market place is closed to traffic. At one end of the square lies the parish church of St. Chad’s, it’s churchyard being noted for its springtime crocus displays.
At the head of the market place stands the town’s war memorial, market cross and stocks. The stocks which can be seen in the foreground of the above photo were restraining devices formerly used for punishment by public humiliation.
The town boasts 15 buildings listed by English Heritage, it was just a pity that we couldn’t see them at their best due to the poor weather. To keep dry we glanced in the small, enclosed shopping mall and the new Booths supermarket which sells a range of high quality produce and has an attractive cafe on its upper floor. Having seen most of what the town had to offer, we hopped on a waiting bus back into Blackpool to have a meal before returning home that evening. And finally, our verdict on a short break in Blackpool – it’s big, it’s brash but for a traditional seaside break it’s definitely good fun!