North, Central, South….. everyone has their favourite pier in Blackpool….. don’t they? Well, maybe not but they do form such a fundamental role in the make up of the town, everyone has an affinity towards them. Our personal favourite is the North Pier…. partly because ‘Dad’ in his younger days worked in the bar at the end of the pier and had to walk up and down it soooooo many times over a year…. but also because its actually just quite beautiful and true to it’s origins. It’s fair to say it does need a bit of TLC now… but a lot of us can say that about ourselves if we’re honest, can’t we? 🙂
A brief history lesson……..
The Pier was opened in 1863 and is the longest of the three Blackpool piers, it’s a beautiful place to still get a bit of calm and take in some sun and that sea air. The pier houses bars for drinks and a cafe for some food but a lot of people will visit for the shows that are on in the theatre at the end or others just pop in to the arcade or maybe just for a wander.
The pier has numerous signs along it to read about it’s history, lots of ‘fun facts’ so you can educate yourself about it’s glorious history whilst enjoying the walk, sights and sounds! 🙂
From front to back…….. the front………
Lets take a journey down the pier from the promenade to the end. At the very front of the pier on the promenade you have three points of interest, all of which are stereotypical ‘Blackpool’. On the Far right (as you face) is the ‘home of the wrap’ fast food (typical drunken tourist type food) and the North Pier Lounge Bar. This bar was the ‘home’ of Joey Blower who has been performing stand up / comparing in the town for what seems like an eternity and has remained very popular, he left the bar at the end of the 2019 season – we await new on his replacement (if any). The bar is a lively bar and a target destination for stag and hen parties, especially at weekend. We have seen kids sitting outside during the day but it’s not one we’d recommend as a rule if you have kids with you…… maybe take them for a walk further down the pier to a bar instead 🙂
Beside the North Pier Lounge Bar is a fish and chip shop and an arcade (you could predict this yourself without ever visiting!), the arcade is a fair size (though could do with some freshening up) and has all the standard penny pushers, fruit machines, video games, toy grabbers and rides you’d expect. Its is very much a ‘what it says on the tin’ traditional seaside arcade.
Directly behind the Arcade (you can get out from the back of it or walk on the footway at the side) is a nice bar and Cafe (North Gardens) both have been updated and look modern, an excellent contrast to the the historic pier itself, they’ve worked old and new together quite well! The Bar allows you to take drinks and sit on the uncovered deck area and the cafe is an ideal spot to stop to refuel and have something to eat whilst watching the sea and waves. We’ve had food and drinks at both these places a couple of times and never had any cause for complaint.
Beside the bar is the North Pier Ticket office. The ticket office is where you can purchase tickets for performances in the North Pier Theatre and as an added point of interest, normally has one of the original ‘Sooty’ puppets (Sooty was ‘discovered’ on north pier) in a glass case outside. (there’s also one of those cartoon things with space for your head cut out….. not sure what they’re called….. if you want a traditional seaside photo) 🙂
Middle of the pier……..
So, middle of the pier is really what we’d describe as the main open air walk way. North Pier is the longest of the three Blackpool piers at 500 metres, so they’ve been kind enough to provide transport to the end for those who (for whatever reason), don’t fancy walking. The transport used to be in the form of a little train on tracks which ran up and down all day but due too it breaking down regularly (we are told), it’s now been replaced with….what could only be described as a… ‘tyred’ novelty vehicle….. or fake train we suppose works.
Heading down the pier there is ample seating on either side, some benches in the ‘train stop’ where you can sit and eat / drink and a few shops. The views you can get of the Blackpool coast and tower are the best from any of the piers we’d say… just because you can mix in some of the ‘tradition’ of North Pier with some of the modern sea front and the proximity of the tower. There are a number of little cabins you’ll pass as you make your way down the pier and what they contain does change from year to year but usually sell typical seaside goods like fudge, ice cream and novelty items. Last time we went down, only one was open selling ice cream but as the season kicks in properly, we expect the others will get tenants too.
Then as we work our way down toward the end of the pier, there’s a couple of recent additions targeting younger children, a ‘helter skelter’ (two quid for five goes…. bit weird doing that with social distancing, seems to take ages!), an electric merry go round type ride and the most gorgeous carousel we’ve ever seen which is lovingly protected from the wind and sea spray by screens.
The end of the Pier……..
Directly behind the Carousel there is another bar, this one caters for families (and theatre goers) and perhaps, some of the more senior visitors to Blackpool. Bloom is a good size bar which is great for accommodating larger families or families that have come away together. The prices are reasonable and has the advantage over most Blackpool pubs by offering what they call ‘ the largest beer garden in Blackpool’….. also known as, ‘The sunset lounge’. The Sunset lounge is fab, a glass walled area at the end of the pier with loads of deck chairs and tables and free entertainment in the form of an organist playing during the day during the summer season.
…and last but not least, opposite the sunset lounge and carousel bar is the jewel in the Piers crown, the 1564 seat theatre, which has played host to some house hold names such as (amongst many others….) Morecambe and Wise, Bruce Forsyth, Russ Abbot, Des O’Connor and our favourite…… after which the theatre is due to be renamed……. Joe Longthorne.
What’s your favourite part of North Pier? Have you visited recently? Who have you seen perform in the Theatre?
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