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The enduring appeal of Blackpool’s Winter Gardens

Blackpool's Winter Gardens
Blackpool's Winter Gardens

Tour guide David Evans told Murray Scougall The Honest Truth about the venue.

David Evans
David Evans

Who was behind the Winter Gardens and what was its purpose?

The Cocker family bought the original villa with the intention of making a winter garden and creating an area of entertainment and wonder that people could enjoy, no matter what the weather conditions were.

How did it evolve?

The original villa was purchased in the early 1870s for approximately £25,000. It was a large property but nothing like today’s Winter Gardens.

It’s been added to and extended several times over many years to accommodate the number of visitors and different functions.

Was its popularity immediate?

We believe so, due to the fact it kept being extended and was the only place of its kind at that time.

Why does the architecture vary so much?

This is due to styles changing and parts of the building being constructed at different times.

The Winter Gardens has undergone lots of changes over its lifetime, some good and some bad.

Thankfully it’s now being restored to its former glory bit by bit. You can expect to see McKeith’s Art Deco detailing and the fascinating highly decorated interiors of Doulton and Boekbinder.

What are some of the biggest or most unusual events it has hosted?

Some of the largest events held annually are the Punk Festival, Pigeon Festival, Magicians’ Conference and the Dance Festival, which welcomes visitors from all over the world.

Who are some of the biggest names to have appeared?

Frank Sinatra, Gracie Fields, Sammy Davies Jr and Morecambe and Wise are just a few of the biggest acts.

Look at any list of internationally famous entertainers over the last century and many will have graced the Winter Gardens stage.

Has there ever been a downturn in the venue’s fortunes?

It’s faced challenges over the years as has any large entertainment venue, but since Blackpool Council bought it in 2010 there has been considerable investment and restoration.

What does the future hold?

It has hosted some major West End shows over the last few years such as Mamma Mia and Cats.

Each season sees a great selection of entertainers, such as comedians, bands and special events, and it looks forward to continuing to welcome more big names in the future.

What can people expect from the heritage tour?

It provides a unique opportunity to explore the venue with the bonus of a guide to share their knowledge and anecdotes.

There are so many stories to tell and so much to see in this wonderful building that guests go away amazed.

What is your background as one of the tour guides?

Being a Sandgrown’un (born in the town), I’m very proud of Blackpool and it’s been a most rewarding experience.

We get to meet visitors and indeed many locals who want to experience what this unique town has to offer – and there truly is far more to it than first meets the eye.

The overriding factor after every tour is the amazement on just about everyone’s faces at what they have just experienced and how a town not normally renowned for its heritage more than delivers on spectacle, quality, interest and content.

For a list of all the venue’s tour dates visit blackpoolheritagetours.co.uk or visitblackpool.com


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