Danny MacAskill heads to Blackpool Beach and an abandoned quarry for his new film

The Scotsman looks to appeal to "whole of Scotland" with new design |  Design Week

Scottish stunt cycle sensation Danny MacAskill has revealed a new film made on Blackpool Beach and at an abandoned sandstone quarry.

Danny MacAskill on Blackpool Beach. Picture: Dave MackisonDanny MacAskill on Blackpool Beach. Picture: Dave Mackison

He has joined forces with fellow Scottish stunt rider Kriss Kyle to create a six and a half minute showcase of their favourite tricks.

They used the street furniture of Blackpool’s promenade after abandoning plans to film in Scotland last September due to a bad weather forecast.

Woodland trails and sandstone quarry cliffs at Nescliffe, in Shropshire, which MacAskill described as a perfect “playground” for filming, were also deployed.

The new film, This and That, is one of three made by MacAskill during the pandemic and has been released months after the street trials superstar returned to Skye to make a film riding down vast concrete slabs.

MacAskill, who shot to fame with a 2009 film made on the streets of Edinburgh, said: “One of my old flatmates used to live in Blackpool so I had ridden the streets a couple of times before.

“The promenade has wide open public space, with a lot of different features, various walls and randoms bits of concrete.

“We made the film last September when you could still move around the UK.

“The weather wasn’t looking good in Scotland so we decided we decided to go down to Blackpool to film there for a couple of days, and also film at a sandstone quarry. We all ended up living down in Wales for around six months.

“It was a lot of fun as Kriss Kyle is an absolutely world-class rider. We have done lots of different filming projects separately over the years but this is the first time we’ve ever collaborated on one. We wanted to make a kind of mix and match film.

“Nesscliffe isn’t really known as somewhere you would go with your bike, they’re really just known as cool local woods.

“There’s an old sandstone quarry where these big holes have been dug out in the ground.

“Over the years they’ve just been filled up with topsoil from the cliffs and dead leaves. It has made it into a real playground for making a film. We lucked out – we couldn’t have asked for a better location.

“If you went there and really worked on it you could turn it into a giant dirt skatepark.

“It was actually quite nice crashing onto the dirt, it was quite soft. You could afford to have some quite big crashes on it, which Kriss and I definitely took advantage of.

“We had set ourselves five days for filming as we were shooting two other films. Sometimes it can take four days to do a couple of really technical tricks, so to we were really happy to get a full film in the can in that time.Danny MacAskill in Blackpool. Picture: Dave MackisonDanny MacAskill in Blackpool. Picture: Dave Mackison

“We really wanted to make something fun which would inspire other people to go out on their bike and play about, especially kids.”

MacAskill, whose home island is notorious for its midge swarms, revealed the filming crew had to battle problems with sandflies in the woods.

He added: “Kriss and I were always on the move so we weren’t really affected, but the crew all got their ankles munched. They sometimes had to stand in the same place for an hour or so for a specific trick.”

This and That is one of three films made by Danny MacAskill last September. Picture: Dave Mackison
This and That is one of three films made by Danny MacAskill last September. Picture: Dave Mackison

This and That was made in Blackpool last September. Picture: Dave Mackison
This and That was made in Blackpool last September. Picture: Dave Mackison

An abandoned sandstone quarry in Shropshire has been used by Danny MacAskill for his new video. Picture: Dave Mackison
An abandoned sandstone quarry in Shropshire has been used by Danny MacAskill for his new video. Picture: Dave Mackison

BMX star Kriss Kyle has collaborated with Danny MacAskill on the new video. Picture: Dave Mackison
BMX star Kriss Kyle has collaborated with Danny MacAskill on the new video. Picture: Dave Mackison

This and That was filmed on Blackpool Beach last September. Picture: Dave Mackison
This and That was filmed on Blackpool Beach last September. Picture: Dave Mackison

It is hoped that the new film will encourage youngsters to head out on four wheels. Picture: Dave Mackison
It is hoped that the new film will encourage youngsters to head out on four wheels. Picture: Dave Mackison

What’s a trip to Blackpool Pleasure Beach like after lockdown?

Manchester Evening News for live, in-depth and regularly updated news and  information from in and around Manchester.


Children from the age of six need to wear a mask on most rides (Image: Emma Gill / Manchester Evening News)

After what feels like an eternity in lockdown, a trip to the theme park is perhaps a daunting prospect for most.

Purposely mixing with lots of different households and touching bars and handles used by thousands of people in the same day is a far cry from the stay at home mantra we’ve become accustomed to.

But with outdoor attractions finally reopening while the school holidays are still in full swing, it was an exciting prospect too – to finally experience the thrills of the rides and seaside once again.

The queue that greeted us at the entrance to Blackpool Pleasure Beach was far from thrilling though, as we arrived on the morning of the grand reopening to find people weaving through the car park and stretching along the front as far as Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

We needn’t have worried though. As soon as the gates opened at 11am we got moving and were getting on our first ride by 10 past. I’ve never known a queue that long to move so fast.

Helped by visitors having to book eTickets in advance, we simply had to zap the bar code on the machine to get in – we had ours on a mobile phone, but you can print it out too if you’d rather.

You need the bar code for getting on rides too, as it’s replaced the wristband system, so if your battery life on your phone isn’t too great – or you want to save it for all those photos you’ll be taking – then a print out would be best.

Once inside and the hundreds of people who’d formed the queue outside quickly dispersed across the park, leaving many rides with no queues at all.

In fact we rarely queued for more than 10 or 15 minutes for any ride, including the most popular ones like Icon and the Big One, both of which we got on twice.

Signs on the floors to keep people apart while queuing (Image: Emma Gill / Manchester Evening News)

To help with Covid restrictions such as social distancing, the park – which is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year – is operating at 30 to 50% of normal capacity, which explains why it’s pretty quiet whilst walking around.

There are one way systems and keep left signs in place to help keep groups apart and boards and screens have been installed in some of the queues to help with that separation.

‘Stand behind the yellow line’ signs on the floor remind people to stay apart too and while not everyone follows the rules, the majority seemed to oblige.

Nickelodeon Streak at Blackpool Pleasure Beach (Image: Emma Gill / Manchester Evening News)

Mask wearing is required indoors and on most rides, even for younger children from the age of six, and while that’s a obviously a good thing for safety, it makes it difficult to see if they’re enjoying the ride or not. It was left to my son’s frown and uncharacteristic silence to indicate he wasn’t feeling too comfortable as we ascended the Big One.

Keeping your mask in place on the way down is another matter but while mine slipped below my nose, I managed to keep it over my mouth and my children’s masks didn’t budge.

The hardest thing is making sure nobody loses theirs with all the taking on and off throughout the day and there was at least one occasion we were backtracking to find a lost mask which ended up being in my son’s pocket.

Rides are being regularly cleaned (Image: Emma Gill / Manchester Evening News)

The distancing measures means empty seats are left on rides too, so if you’re in a group of three like we were, one of you isn’t plonked alongside a stranger, and on some of the rides entire rows are left empty.

With the extra cleaning measures in place, sometimes pausing rides so every seat and handle bar can be wiped down, it’s easy to see why visitor numbers have to be reduced – but it’s a reassuring sight for the smaller crowds who do attend.

Food and drink stalls are back in business too and while there’s no indoor eating allowed yet, additional outdoor seating has been arranged around the park.

There’s a new online food ordering system in place, letting you purchase food for a contact-less service, or you can just turn up and buy, like we did at the Burger King inside the park, which is operating with a limited but pretty extensive menu and has its own distancing and sanitising measures in place.

Distancing measures inside Burger King at Blackpool Pleasure Beach (Image: Emma Gill / Manchester Evening News)

Park staff, who were visible across the site, are temperature tested daily and equipped with the appropriate PPE. Most seemed genuinely pleased to be back at work. With the exception of one cleaner in the toilets that is, who told me she was counting down to her 6.30 finish – and who can blame her.

It’s probably a shock to the system getting back to work after months at home and there are changes we’re all having to adapt to as the country eases out of lockdown.

If you’d have asked me a year ago whether I’d enjoy a theme park visit while wearing a mask on every ride, I probably would have said no.

The queue for the Big One was less than 15 minutes (Image: Emma Gill / Manchester Evening News)

But they’ve become part of our lives and it’s a small price to pay for some normality – indeed some actual fun – in these strange times.

In many ways, with less crowds and fewer queues, it’s a better experience than it was before. And when you do need the loo whilst out and about, at least you know there’s more chance of it being clean, even if it is rather reluctantly.

Tickets for Blackpool Pleasure Beach cost £30 for 11 years and under and £35 for ages 12 and over. Book online here.

How Blackpool Pleasure Beach has changed over the last 125 years

Manchester Evening News for live, in-depth and regularly updated news and  information from in and around Manchester.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach will open its gates on Monday – here’s a look back at the theme park over the years


How Blackpool Pleasure Beach has changed over the last 125 years (Image: Andrew Teebay/Liverpool Echo)

Interest in theme parks has surged online by 65 per cent in the past three months amid the third national lockdown – showing that people are eager to get back to the thrill of rides.

One renowned north west attraction that’s been sorely missed is Blackpool Pleasure Beach, with its fun of the fair and its host of entertainment and interaction experiences.

It’s set to reopen its gates on Monday, April 12 after outdoor attractions were given the green light to welcome back visitors as part of Step Two in the roadmap.

And while it’ll be a big day for Pleasure Beach, it will also be celebrating its 125th anniversary.

A lot has changed at the theme park over the years, and there are even more new experiences launching in 2021, reports LancsLive.

This includes Walk the Woodie, which is an escorted, guided walk of the track and lift hills of one of the park’s classic wooden roller coasters.

Skipping ahead to autumn, there will be a new ‘it’s Friday night’ event, which will see the park open from 4.30pm-9.30pm.

While the hub is also a new centre for park entertainment located in the middle of the grounds near the fountains, which will also welcome Oktoberfest in September.

To allow visitors next week, the amusement park has put in place a number of robust Covid-secure measures, such as limiting the number of guests, compulsory masks and temperature checks.

Here, our sister site LancsLive takes a look at the iconic history of the family-owned Pleasure Beach and its 125 seasons.

Vision of an American-style theme park

1890 – 1910

Alderman William George Bean founded Pleasure Beach in 1896 after being inspired to build an American-style amusement park.

He had ambitious plans to build a world-renowned attraction “to make adults feel like children again”.

In conjunction with partner John Outhwaite, A.W.G. Bean bought a 42-acre plot of land where the park still stands today.

The local businessman travelled extensively to bring new rides and ideas to Pleasure Beach.

He introduced the Hotchkiss Bicycle Railroad to the site in July 1896 and Sir Hiram Maxim’s Flying Machines and Noah’s Ark – which still stand today.

The Infamous Flying Machines are not only one of the oldest continuously working machines in the Blackpool Pleasure Beach but also in Europe.

125 years later A.W.G. Bean’s Creation has brought joy to millions of visitors of all ages and backgrounds.

Still thriving through the first World War

1910 – 1930

31st March 1936: Men painting the pleasure boats at Blackpool Boating Lake, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Lancashire, in preparation for the Easter holiday visitors

The outbreak of the first world war saw Pleasure Beach face many challenges.

The exporting of rides from the United States eventually ground to a halt and investment in the park stopped as a result of this and the mounting difficulties faced.

Always resilient through hard times however, Blackpool found a way to overcome problems.

Against the odds and due its unwavering popularity, the amusement park’s profits soared and it became one of the most prolific employers in the North West.

Escapism from war and handing down of the business

1930 – 1950

13th September 1939: Young evacuees from Manchester and Salford enjoying themselves on the aeroplane ride pretending to bomb Berlin, at Blackpool pleasure beach

Throughout the war years, Pleasure Beach remained open all year round.

Thousands of servicemen, evacuees and a wider population would come through its gates to briefly escape the burden of the world war around them.

So much so, signs around the park were written in Polish due to the number of Polish air force bases around the town at that time.

Once again, despite the turmoils of the external environment, this proved a great time of development for the park which started with the opening of Noah’s Ark and The Virginia Reel.

1923 also saw the introduction of a fast and modern ride like no other in the park. This was the Big Dipper which still operates today.

At the end of this prosperous decade for the theme park, W. G. Bean died in 1929. This is when Blackpool’s most well-established attraction was passed on to his son-in-law, Leonard Thompson.

Disney Inspiration and influx of rides

1950 -1960

Walt Disney himself came over to pay a visit (Image: Publicity Picture)

The company saw continued success under Thompson when there was an intensive period of development, including the building of the then modernistic Casino Building.

Inspired by Walt Disney’s penultimate amusement park, ‘Disneyland’, Leonard concentrated on introducing several groundbreaking rides including The Rollercoaster, The Pleasure Beach Express and the world-famous, twin-tracked coaster, The Grand National.

Returning the compliment, the Pleasure Beach became so world-renowned that Walt Disney himself came over to pay a visit.

The entrepreneur and animator came over to see it for himself and stated that he liked the fact it was a family park and that it was “a higher class of resort”.

This resulted in him granting permission for the company to use Alice in Wonderland as inspiration for a ride.

The second world war had seen a temporary holt in terms of the rides and attractions development however it soon saw a return to prominence with the opening of the highly regarded Wild Mouse wooden rollercoaster in 1958.

This was then followed by The Derby Racer in 1959 which carousel has 56 horses, each one hand-carved at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

Britain’s first commercial monorail and influx of popular rides

1960- 1970

During the 1960s, Britain’s first commercial Monorail was built along here with an explosion of new popular rides including the Monster, the Astro Swirl and the world’s longest Log Flume.

Visitors were also wowed by an enchanting trip through the Looking Glass on Alice in Wonderland; the Grand Prix and the popular Tea Cup ride .

Europe’s first 360-degree looping coaster and the UK’s only bobsleigh ride

1970- 1990

Geoffrey Thompson became Managing Director in 1976 and added several exciting and iconic rides to the pleasure beach.

These include the Steeplechase, opened by the racehorse Red Rum in 1977., then two years later, Europe’s first 360-degree looping coaster, the Revolution, which received huge acclaim.

This time also saw the introduction of the infamous The Big One – the tallest, fastest rollercoaster in the world at the time of its creation and the Avalanche – the UK’s only bobsleigh ride.

This remains the only bobsleigh rollercoaster in the country and in the year the British bobsleigh team were competing in the Winter Olympics, 1988, Avalanche opened and carried over one million passengers during the first year.

The world’s tallest, fastest rollercoaster

1990-2000

(Image: Graham Young)

In 1994 the Pepsi Max Big One opened at 235ft tall, meaning it was the world’s tallest and fastest rollercoaster of its time.

This was part of Geoffrey Thompson’s great legacy after he invested £12m in the gigantic ride.

The Big One changed the skyline of Blackpool’s seafront forever and attracted roller coaster superfans from all over the world.

Another UK first was also established around this time, the £2 million Ice Blast, which catapults riders 210 feet vertically into the air.

Expansion

2000-2020

Millions continued to be invested in the Pleasure Beach from the 2000s and beyond.

Over £3m was invested in new rides, enhancements and attractions.

The notorious Valhalla ride opened in 2000 after a massive £15m investment, the biggest amount up until that point.

This thrilling new ride was hailed as the biggest, most spectacular dark ride ever to be constructed by mankind.

The Big Blue Hotel opened its doors in 2002 offering luxury accommodation which also saw the 100th birthday of Chairman, Mrs L.D. Thompson. The 157-bedroom hotel has now established itself as one of the most popular hotels in Blackpool.

Sadly in 2004 Mrs L.D. Thompson M.B.E. J.P. and Geoffrey Thompson O.B.E. passed away and the company was passed to the Managing Director.

Amanda Thompson re-themed and refurbished the park and there has since been the introduction of Infusion – the world’s first rollercoaster suspended entirely over water, Nickelodeon Land, Red Arrows Skyforce and ICON – the UK’s first double launch rollercoaster costing £16.25m.

In 2019, the £12m Boulevard Hotel opened with 120 stylish rooms with views of the seafront or park, a 90-seat restaurant and state-of-the-art conference facilities.

The future and beyond

2021

Now the team at Blackpool Pleasure Beach is hard at work in order to re-open the gates on April 12 after a tumultuous 12 months.

Staff have used lockdown as an opportunity to improve and enhance visitor experiences for its well-loved guests down to replacing rollercoasters wheels and old pieces of track.

They have also implemented, and will maintain, a new unprecedented and enhanced deep cleaning regime to keep visitors Covid safe.

 

One of the country’s coolest hotels has opened on Blackpool seafront

Manchester Evening News for live, in-depth and regularly updated news and  information from in and around Manchester.

Every room has been decorated by a different artist


The McClure room at Art B&B Blackpool (Image: sean conboy / photogenics)

A new hotel where every room has been designed by a different artist has opened on Blackpool’s seafront.

Art B&B has taken shape in a renovated Victorian hotel, with room themes including the moon, showgirls, and 1930s-era cinemas.

It promises a contemporary twist on a traditional seaside holiday, commissioning artists to turn each suite or room into its own work of art.

Alongside your own bespoke art installation, guests will be welcomed by rainfall showers, superfast broadband, and a brew from a 1973 coffee machine in the ART Café and Cocktail Bar.

The hotel was preparing to open in early 2020 but was forced to close due to the pandemic.

The Carnesky room, inspired by showgirls (Image: sean conboy / photogenics)

A summer of staycations seems increasingly likely with the Government’s roadmap not allowing international tourism until May 17 at the earliest.

Art B&B is located near the North Pier in the popular north west seaside town, offering sea views and a central location for exploring Blackpool and the wider Fylde Coast.

The hotel is a Community Interest Company, meaning it aims to reinvest profits into the local community to bring art and creativity to its neighborhoods.

It will be offering a June staycation package for the two Ocean Suites – guests who book to stay for three nights will get the fourth night free.

Inside Art B&B (Image: sean conboy / photogenics)

Each suite includes a king-size bed, deluxe en suite bathroom and separate lounges with a cocktail bar and drop-down movie screen.

The ‘Now You See it, Now You Don’t’ suite was created by artist and writer Professor Tim Etchells, who has installed a gallery-quality neon sculpture.

Art B&B is right on the seafront (Image: sean conboy / photogenics)

The ‘Willy Little’ suite by artist Mel Brimfield celebrates the career of fictional entertainer Willy Little and his performances at ‘The Ocean Hotel’ – the original name of ART B&B.

The suite is adorned with performance posters, showbiz signage and whole walls of text that evoke the spirit of theatrical seaside entertainers (real and imagined).

Progress Room (Image: sean conboy / photogenics)

Other rooms in the hotel include the Welcome Inn, which is deliberately designed by Christopher Samuels to be awkward but fun to stay in to highlight the struggles disabled people face every day.

Guests can also stay in the 1930s-inspired Lumiere Cinema Room, or Jez Dolan’s ‘The Queer Room’ which has been decorated with artwork focusing on queerness, sexuality and identity.

The Progress Room by the artist Mark Titchner has been inspired by the 1935 neon designs for Blackpool Illuminations.

You can book a room at artbb.org.

The Blackpool picture house that had everyone talking

Home | Blackpool Gazette

As plans for the Blackpool Central development are considered, Blackpool historian David Hewitt hears echoes of the King Edward cinema’s early days

King Edward Picture House, Blackpool
King Edward Picture House, Blackpool

Great things have been promised for the site of the old Central Station – hotels and restaurants, and Chariots of the Gods, a ‘flying theatre’ said to offer ‘an immersive and thrilling Edutainment experience unlike any other in the world.’

When the plans were first announced, council leader Simon Blackburn hailed them as a game-changer that would make Blackpool a world class tourist destination.

That seems to be the way with this site. We have already been promised the Snowdome, of course, and before that the super-casino, neither of which got off the ground. But a century before all that, it was a picture house that got everyone talking.

When the King Edward Cinema opened in July 1913, it was known as the Central Picture Theatre – a name that can still be seen picked out in cream terracotta on the great curved gable which rears up from Central Drive at the junction with Read’s Avenue. This was during the early days of silent cinema, and right from the start, the King Edward was billing itself as ‘the finest picture palace in Blackpool’.

The building’s façade would be preserved under the present plans, and possibly incorporated into an ‘artisan food hall’ on the south-east approach to the site. And that’s a relief, for with its Accrington brick and stone-coloured banding, its large Venetian window, its pilasters and checker-board pediment, the King Edward really is something special. Inside, there was a barrel-vaulted ceiling and plasterwork in the shape of leaves and flowers, although much of that is thought to have been destroyed when the building was converted into a restaurant in the 1980s.

The management of the King Edward was never backwards in coming forwards. Early advertisements describe it as the ‘prettiest and cosiest new theatre in Blackpool’. They also promise ‘1,000 tip-up seats’ alongside ‘all the latest and up-to-date films’ and ‘popular prices’.

But if this was one of the first purpose-built cinemas in Blackpool, it didn’t lack for competition. Films had been shown in the town for the last two decades, and there were already established halls such as the Colosseum on Tyldesley Road and the Royal Pavilion on Rigby Road, the Hippodrome on Church Street (which would become the ABC), the Tivoli in Talbot Square, the Princess on the Promenade and, across from the present-day Marks & Spencer store, the Clifton Palace. There were also cinemas in the Winter Gardens and on the Victoria (later South) Pier. Only a week later, the Imperial Picture Theatre would open up on Dickson Road. And while prices at the King Edward might have been popular, that didn’t stop them increasing. It was 3d or 6d for the stalls at first, 6d for the balcony. But the cheapest ticket would be fourpence before long, fivepence in no time at all. And anyone wanting to come in ‘early doors’ would have to pay even more.

Blackpool Hippodrome
Blackpool Hippodrome

There were showings in the evening and most afternoons, together with a special ‘sacred’ bill on Sundays. On those rare occasions when the weather was wet, there might even be a showing at 10.30 in the morning. And whatever the time of day, patrons were promised a ‘Great programme of all-star films’, with changes on Mondays and Thursdays.

The main film in the first few days showed the recent visit to Blackpool of King George V and Queen Mary, and the weeks which followed were packed with melodrama and thrills – Trial By Fire and On Fortune’s Wheel, Prisoner of the Harem and The Jockey of Death. The most popular performers at the King Edward were Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin, but Norma Talmadge and Pauline Frederick could also be seen, Violet Hopson and Douglas Fairbanks, John Barrymore and Stewart Rome. There was even a film starring Miss Cecilia Loftus, who, a newspaper noted, ‘is so well known to Blackpool residents, having been educated at Layton Convent.’ Before long, though, ‘Cissie’ would be fleeing the country for good, dogged by ill-health, ugly rumour, and a criminal conviction for the possession of morphine.

The King Edward would prove itself a place of innovation. Special continuous performances were introduced, which patrons were promised would last for at least 2½ hours. There were twice-nightly showings, with different films in either house. A ‘King Edward Orchestra’ was formed. And the place even published its own magazine, printed on pages of blue, bound between covers of black and orange.

On the day the Great War broke out, those inside the King Edward were watching In the Wolves’ Fangs. But in a place named for a monarch, the conflict couldn’t help but loom large. Most war films would be shown there, including The Battle of the Somme in October 1916, and man known as ‘Ex-Gunner 537’ would treat audiences to his Battlefield Pictures, a collection of lantern slides as well as films, which promised ‘Living Incidents of the Great European War. Pictures that will make you think.’ Later, a benefit concert was given in the presence of the Mayor and Mayoress, Alderman and Mrs Lindsay Parkinson, culminating in a stirring address from none other than Harry Lauder. (It was two shillings in the balcony for that one.) Benefit concerts were common at the King Edward. One held in aid of Victoria Hospital featured a Beethoven sonata and Mr Tom Kimberley reciting The Death of Nelson. There was ‘a capital rendering’ of Our Sailor King by Miss Ethel Reeve, who was known as ‘The Singing Nurse’. And the Blackpool Orpheus Ladies’ Choir and the Blackpool Male Voice Choir joined forces for Comrades in Arms and the Soldier’s Farewell.

The old Central Station, Blackpool
The old Central Station, Blackpool

As fighting still raged on the Somme, a party of staff from the King Edward made an excursion to Ingleton, where, in very unseasonable weather, they enjoyed a six-course dinner, before returning home via Garstang (where they enjoyed a six-course tea). The party was augmented by staff from the Waterloo Picture House on Waterloo Road. The King Edward was managed jointly with the Waterloo, which it slightly resembled, and advertisements of the time call the two of them ‘The People’s Popular Picture Houses’ and ‘The Cinemas of Distinction’.

But if the halls were treated alike, the same couldn’t always be said for their respective patrons. When ‘the eminent soprano’ Miss Lilian Beaumont was engaged to perform at the King Edward, she was withheld from patrons of the Waterloo, who were shown Adventures Among the Cannibals instead.

Eventually, a benefit even had to be held for one of the cinema’s own. John Taylor Jones had been the assistant manager, before he joined up and was sent to France. And lately, he had been wounded on the Western Front. This concert, too, featured songs, recitals and speeches, and in the interval, Mr Jones was helped up onto the stage to receive the acclaim of the packed audience.

By now, the manager of the King Edward was John Beck, who lived near Devonshire Square, and whose early tenure had been marked by a very special event. On 14 April 1917, Mr Beck married his sweetheart, Annie Singleton (née Taylor) who lived in Lune Grove. The wedding took place at St Paul’s church in Marton, and the bride wore a wine-coloured dress coat with ‘picture hat’ to match, and carried a spray of roses and lilies of the valley. Mr Jones was a guest at the ceremony, where the best man was the assistant manager of the Waterloo Picture House. And after returning from honeymoon in Colwyn Bay, Mr Beck lost no time in assuring his patrons that, contrary to rumours that had been sweeping the Fylde, and indeed the country, Mary Pickford was not dead. Ms Pickford would go on making films for years, and the King Edward would show many of them. John Jones eventually succeeded Mr Beck as manager. But after the Second World War, as the competition grew even more intense, the cinema turned to ‘second-run’ films, and to ‘B’ films shown with comedies from an earlier age – Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd alongside Old Mother Riley and the Crazy Gang.

Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin

The King Edward closed its doors in the Seventies, to be succeeded by a bingo hall, by that restaurant – The Village – and finally by a succession of nightclubs and bars. David Hewitt is a lawyer and a writer. His last book – Joseph, 1917 – told the true story of a Thornton man who got caught up in the Great War. His next one – Anything But Silent – is about another early film, which scandalised half of Lancashire.

 

From the deck of a luxury liner to the helm of a rescue lifeboat – the two worlds of Jonathan

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Jonathan Davies, from Fleetwood, as an RNLI volunteer. In his day job, he is first officer on the cruise liner Queen ElizabethJonathan Davies, from Fleetwood, as an RNLI volunteer. In his day job, he is first officer on the cruise liner Queen Elizabeth

Jonathan Davies has a day job which would be the envy of many. As first officer on one of the world’s most luxurious cruise liners, he is used to travelling to tourist hotspots around the globe.

But when he gets back home to Fleetwood, he swaps his smart blue jacket and white peaked cap for a pager, orange oilskins and wellies.

That’s because Jonathan volunteers to save lives at sea with Fleetwood’s RNLI lifeboat crew.

The cruise ship Queen Elizabeth
The cruise ship Queen Elizabeth

He often watched the local lifeboat launching when on visits to the beach, but in 2009, he and his family attended the local lifeboat station’s 150th anniversary celebrations. The attraction to join was too strong to resist and at 17, he joined the RNLI volunteers in Fleetwood.

However, although Jonathan is qualified to helm the 294m-long cruise ship Queen Elizabeth, he still has a lot to learn on the lifeboats.

He is a qualified navigator on Fleetwood’s all-weather Shannon class lifeboat, Kenneth James Pierpoint, but he is still in training to helm the RNLI’s five-metre long in-shore lifeboat, Harbet.

Jonathan said: “Being in the RNLI is about more than just saving lives at sea. The term Lifeboat Family is often used at stations to describe the relationship between crew members.

“The RNLI is not just a part of my life when the pager goes off, but a cornerstone to the life that I have built since joining the crew. Fundraising and social events are equally as important in forming a successful crew as the exercises and services that we undertake.”

Jonathan remembers his first call-out, to a small boat with two people onboard, which had broken down and was drifting out to sea.

He also recalls Ernie, the horse stuck in mud at Knott End and Poppy the dog, which had been swept out two miles by the strong tide and current. Both had favourable outcomes. But it wasn’t all animal rescues. He also remembers the family of four, cut off by the tide and by the time the in-shore lifeboat reached them, the children were being held out of the water by their parents. Definitely four lives saved that day.

But it’s taken a long voyage for Jonathan to get here.

As a youngster, he knew all about the Pandoro boats which frequented Fleetwood at the time and had ambitions to be a captain of one of these ferries. He also knew that to be a captain of a ship, he’d have to attend Fleetwood Nautical College. In 2010, thanks to an offer from James Fisher & Sons, a marine specialist services company, he started as a student, qualifying as Officer of the Watch, before further studies took him to Chief Mate certificate in 2016 and this year, he passed his Master Mariner certification.

Jonathan’s links with the nautical college continue to this day, as he is now a Lecturer in Maritime Studies.

But Jonathan’s first ship posting gave little evidence as to where he’d end up. When he joined the Clyde Fisher, a 127-metre tanker on the Manchester Ship Canal, its destination was Holland.

But in 2014, Jonathan joined Carnival UK, a cruise ship company and operator behind P&O and Cunard cruise ships.

As Third Officer, he sailed on Azura and Oriana, before promotion to Second Officer took him onto the Oceana and Ventura.

In the midst of the pandemic, he joined Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth in 2020 and has been sailing in the rank of First Officer.

Jonathan’s ambitions are still strong, not least with his colleagues in the RNLI, where he hopes to one day be coxswain of the town’s lifeboat.

But does he have a preference for either lifeboat ?

He says: “Both boats bring their own unique qualities to a rescue. An in-shore lifeboat shout may involve searches in shallower water or parts of the river you wouldn’t otherwise see.

“The Shannon is capable of fighting through almost any sea conditions to save someone in distress. Being a crew member on both boats provides a wide variety of challenges and you never know what they will be when the pager goes off.”

Blackpool Carnival is cancelled for second year running

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Blackpool Carnival has been cancelled for the second year running due to the pandemic.

 

The Blackpool Carnival has been cancelled for a second year running
The Blackpool Carnival has been cancelled for a second year running

Organisers for the free two-day event said they have tried to delay the announcement but said the show must be cancelled again.

It was scheduled to take at the end of July at the Waterloo Headland but will now be rescheduled for 2022.

Geoff Moore, chair, of the Blackpool Carnival Community Interest Company, said he was sad to see this year’s event scrapped.

He said: “We know how popular this event would be, especially at the end of an horrific period for us all and we would do anything possible for us all locally to work together and organise a tremendous party to get rid of all the pent up frustration at not being with each other over the last year or so.

“However, again we have to weigh up the positives against the negatives and as with the other major local events, we have to act responsibly for the good of us all and taking into account the easing of the lockdown measures and the vaccination programme that is certainly helping enormously with the fight against this horrendous virus, yet we can’t ignore the fact that there is still so much uncertainty regarding the staging of outside events that attract thousands of people.

“We shall be organising a much bigger Santa Clause Drive Around in December and so please keep checking the social media pages for details and hopefully next year will be third time lucky and the Blackpool Carnival will be going ahead and if you want to participate in any way, either personally or as part of a group or organisation, please don’t hesitate to contact us, tell all your friends and colleagues.”