What Happened To Blackpool Airport?

Blackpool is a resort town on England’s northwest coast, which, since the 1840s, has been a popular domestic holiday destination. However, as recently as the 2010s, it was also home to an active commercial airport, serving various locations in the British Isles and abroad. But what was the history of this facility, and why did it close?

Blackpool Airport
The airport was also known as Blackpool International. Photo: calflier001via Wikimedia Commons

The early years and World War II

Blackpool Airport (BLK) opened in 1909 when the UK’s first-ever official public flying meeting occurred in Squires Gate, on the outskirts of the town. The land was also used as a racecourse in its early years, and as a military hospital during the First World War. By the mid-1930s, UK-based regional airlines had begun using the airfield to operate commercially.

These included short hops to Liverpool, Manchester, and the Isle of Man, which Railway Air Services began operating in April 1935. However, the Air Ministry requisitioned the site in 1938 for military use, just before the Second World War began the following year.

The Royal Air Force (RAF) favored the airport, which became known as RAF Squires Gate – a training camp. This was because an abundance of accommodation was available there, and the site was situated close to army training camps in nearby Kirkham and Weeton.

Blackpool Airport 1945
RAF Squires Gate in 1945. The Vickers Wellington factory is the building in the top-right of the picture.   Photo: Ringwayobserver via Wikimedia Commons

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RAF Squires Gate also served as an aircraft factory between September 1940 and October 1945. During this time, the facility produced 2,584 Vickers Wellington bombers (around 22.5% of a total Wellington contingent of 11,462). It experienced a renaissance in the mid-1950s when Hawker looked to boost the production of its ‘Hunter’ jet fighters.

Commercial boom

Commercial services from Blackpool Airport recommenced shortly after the Second World War came to an end. Indeed, by 1946, Isle of Man Air Services had returned to provide flights to the eponymous British crown dependency in the Irish Sea. Jersey European Airways, a predecessor of Flybe, also had a presence at the airport in the latter part of the 20th century.

However, passenger services at Blackpool Airport really took off, if you’ll pardon the pun, after the turn of the century. For example, 2005 saw Jet2 become the first major low-cost carrier to base an aircraft there, creating 50 jobs in the process. It served six leisure destinations in Spain and Portugal, as well as operating a commuter-focused route to Belfast.

Jersey_European_Short_360-100_G-BLZT
Jersey European Airways served Blackpool with its boxy 39-seat Short 360 turboprop commuter aircraft. Photo: Alan McKnight via Wikimedia Commons

Ryanair has a penchant for serving smaller British airports, and, unsurprisingly, the Irish budget airline also had a presence at Blackpool in the 2000s. Now-defunct Monarch Airlines also provided competition on some of the airport’s European leisure routes.

Blackpool Airport also housed a reasonably strong and diverse regional network. This saw carriers such as Aer Arann, British North West Airlines, Citywing, Flybe, and Jetstream Express serve destinations throughout the British Isles, including Aberdeen and Southampton.

Partial closure ends commercial services

Sadly, the airport announced in October 2014 that it would be closing, bringing an end to its commercial flights. According to the BBC, its owners made this decision after they were unable to find a buyer, following years of loss making. It officially closed on October 15th that year, with airlines such as Jet2 re-routing Blackpool flights to Manchester.

Blackpool Airport Sunset
Today, the airport is a far quieter facility than in years gone by. Photo: 70023venus2009 via Flickr

The closure turned out only to be a partial one, with the airport soon re-opening to small aircraft and helicopters two months later. In fact, limited commercial service was able to resume the following April, albeit only to Belfast and the Isle of Man with Citywing.

These services came to an end just under two years later, when the airline ceased operations in March 2017. Blackpool has been without commercial services for the four years since this happened. For now, the town’s closest commercial airports are as follows.

  • Leeds/Bradford – 70 miles / 113 km away.
  • Liverpool – 64 miles / 103 km away.
  • Manchester – 57 miles / 92 km away.

 

Blackpool’s Boulevard Hotel ranked among best in the world by TripAdvisor

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The Boulevard Hotel in Blackpool has been named as one of the best hotels in the world according to the travel rating website, TripAdvisor.

The Boulevard Hotel in Blackpool

The Boulevard Hotel in Blackpool

The South Shore hotel, next to the Blackpool Pleasure Beach on the Prom, was ranked in the top ten per cent of all hotels worldwide in the 2021 TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards.

The awards are the ‘highest honour’ TripAdvisor gives out.

The 120-room hotel opened in 2019 and TripAdvisor said it had earned positive reviews and ratings over the past year.

A spokesman for the firm said: “The Traveller’s Choice Award celebrates hotels that consistently deliver fantastic experiences to travelers around the globe.

“Winners like The Boulevard Hotel earned positive reviews and ratings over the past year.

“In this particular challenging year, The Boulevard Hotel stood out by providing great service and experiences to guests.

Amanda Thompson, managing director of the Pleasure Beach, said: “I am delighted that the Boulevard Hotel has received this fantastic accolade from TripAdvisor. I’m very proud of the whole team at the hotel for all of their hard work in building and maintaining the superb levels of service and standards at the Boulevard.”

 

Caring team join castle to castle ride in aid of Blackpool charity

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A Blackpool company that provides residential care for children is gearing up to go the extra 199 miles to support young carers.

Sandcastle Care, based in Whitegate Drive, is providing a team of four riders to take part in a charity fund-raising castle to castle cycle challenge.

Mark Arrowsmith, Steve Lambert, Amber Steib and Dave Crow are to ride from Bamburgh Castle on the Northumberland coast to Lancaster Castle in support of Blackpool Carers, which offers support to young people caring for poorly family members full time.

The staff at Sandcastle Care which has a series of homes to care for youngsters across the North West, Cumbria and Yorkshire wanted to support a local charity which also works to help children.

She said: “We try do do a lot for our local community, we have worked with the food bank through Covid and it has been a hard year for charities with fundraising, so we thought this was a great idea to further support our local community.

“We are fully supporting the riders and will be meeting them along the way. We have started them off with a donation and are all getting involved in sponsorship and fundraising for the team.

“They are all very active and go to the gym, but it is quite a challenge. I think they are looking forward to it. We have all been in lockdown for a year, so I think they are all keen to get out in the country.

“None of us know who might be a carer outside of work and it was fascinating to hear from Terry Hodgkinson about just how many young carers there are out there in Blackpool. So it is great cause to support and we are proud of our team taking part.”

Sandcastle has been going for more than 13 years, around six years ago Darren Yates bought it and since then it has grown from three homes to 52 registered for children with emotional behavioural needs.

Terry Hodkinson, head of business development and fundraising for Blackpool Carers, which has a respite centre in Newton Drive, said the charity had missed out on more than £130,000 due to fund-raising events being cancelled and so were very grateful for Sandcastle Care to support thier major fundraising event this year.

She said: “Lockdown has been doubly hard on our young carers, who have been unable to go out. They look upon school as ‘time off ‘ and have also missed out on the respite time here at Beaverbrooks House.”

The castle to castle ride follows on from the charity’s successful tower to tower adventure which saw 25 people ride from Blackpool to Paris in 2019.

The 199 mile ride will take place from August 4 to August 7. Riders will start on the beach at spectacular Bamburgh Castle on the Northumbrian coast before heading to Alnwick Castle which featured in the Harry Potter films, then riding via Hexham, Hadrian’s Wall to Lowther Castle before finishing at Lancaster Castle.

The riders will do around 70 miles a day with full support from Chapeau Events which will provide crew to service the bikes, daily lunches and water stops, overnight accommodation and a celebration meal at the end.

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Blackpool Night Run returns for 2021 to raise cash for children’s hospice

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

The event is expected to raise thousands for Brian House Children’s Hospice

Thousands of people set off for Blackpool Night Run

Thousands of people set off for Blackpool Night Run (Image: David Bradbury 2019)

Thousnads of runners are set to take to the prom as Blackpool Night Run returns in 2021.

The 7.5km charity dash, organised by Brian House Children’s Hospice, raises vital funds so the charity can care for the most fragile children on the Fylde coast.

The event in 2019 was the biggest on the charity’s calendar, attracting nearly 6,000 participants who ran, jogged and walked under the Illuminations, raising £73,000 for the Bispham charity.

After last year’s event became a virtual run in light of the pandemic, the charity has announced the event will return as a live run, and will take place on Wednesday, September 1.

Blackpool Night Run is free to enter thanks to sponsorship by The Kentown Wizard Foundation, and has already attracted more than 250 people who have registered their interest in taking part.

The hospice’s events manager, Kirsty Miller, said: “After the huge success of our first ever Night Run, we were really excited to keep the momentum going with a 2020 event. It was a sad decision to cancel the live event, but we are so grateful to everyone who took part in the Virtual Night Run last year.

“But now, we are so excited to launch Blackpool Night Run 2021, and we cannot wait to see our amazing supporters under the bright lights of the promenade again.

“We’re constantly reviewing government updates concerning the ease out of lockdown, and will take every precaution to make this event as safe as possible for everyone taking part or helping on the day.

“While Night Run remains a free event, every single penny raised in sponsorship or donated by those taking part goes straight to our amazing children’s hospice, caring for our area’s most fragile children and creating full lives, however short.”

Places for Blackpool Night Run are limited, so participants are encouraged to book quickly to avoid disappointment. Sign up at www.blackpoolnightrun.co.uk.

 

Blackpool hospitals issue urgent plea to patients over A&E visits

“Please leave the department free for EMERGENCIES ONLY”

Blackpool Victoria Hospital

Blackpool Victoria Hospital

A hospital trust in Lancashire has issued an urgent warning as their A&E department copes with ‘extreme pressure’.

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has urged people only to attend its emergency department in serious and life-threatening emergencies.

The trust looks after Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Clifton Hospital and Fleetwood Hospital.

Bosses issued the warning about the emergency department at via social this afternoon (May 31).

In a statement, they said: “Our A&E department is under extreme pressure today.

“Please leave the department free for EMERGENCIES ONLY. For non life-threatening conditions, visit www.111.NHS.uk.

“If you need to come to A&E, they will book you an appointment so you will be seen QUICKER.

“Don’t spend the weekend sitting in A&E if you don’t need to be there. Unless you need 999, contact NHS111. They can help you make the right choice.”

Dr Adeline Israel

She said: “We have been under tremendous pressure in the emergency department because of overcrowding.

“A lot of people have been attending to different needs. We do understand you needs and anxieties in presenting to the emergency department, but when it’s overcrowded we are not able to get to the emergency patients who need our attention immediately among those who don’t need it immediately.

“Please bear in mind that our staff have also returned back to work from the second wave of Covid back. We want to serve everyone in the right place at the right time.

“Hence, I urge you to please use NHS 111 to be triaged before you present to the emergency department.

“If you do present to the emergency department you will be triaged based on your medical condition and prioritised thus. You may be asked to wait to see the appropriate team.

“I would your you to please work together with us so that we have a safe and healthy population in our place. Thank you.”

 

Blackpool beach left strewn with rubbish by Bank Holiday visitors

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

Blackpool residents have condemned the litter-bugs behaviour on social media and called it ‘disgraceful’ and ‘disgusting’

Rubbish left on Blackpool beach on Sunday

Rubbish left on Blackpool beach on Sunday (Image: BplBible/LancsLive)

Hordes of people piled into Blackpool on Sunday as the seaside town basked in the glorious Bank Holiday sunshine.

However residents and community volunteers have been left outraged after pictures showed large amounts of litter left strewn across the award-winning beach.The rubbish included plastic and glass bottles, food packaging and discarded buckets and spades used by families and children.

The actions of some irresponsible sunseekers near Blackpool Tower forced local clean up squads to leap into action to remove the mess.

It comes as more tourists are expected to flock to the coast today (May 31) on what is expected to be the hottest day of the year so far.

Blackpool residents have condemned the litter-bugs behaviour on social media and called it ‘disgraceful’ and ‘disgusting’.

Lots of buckets and spades were left on the beach

Lots of buckets and spades were left on the beach

One person said: “Disgusting if you come to Blackpool clean up after yourselves the council should employ people to issue on the stop fines.”

Another wrote: “The beach has been lovely and clean during lockdown. Disgusting visitor’s treat the beach like this . It’s not hard to take your rubbish with you, after all they managed to carry it to the beach in the first place.”

A third said: “There are bins literally feet apart from each other right along. What the hell is wrong with people you lazy dirty inconsiderate rats?”

Another person said: “Nothing new there then it’s always the same.”

Blackpool Pleasure Beach launches major recruitment drive

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

As the attraction gears up for the busy summer season, everything from gardeners to electricians and from receptionists to baristas is needed.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Blackpool Pleasure Beach (Image: Andrew Teebay/Liverpool Echo)

2021 is a milestone year for Blackpool Pleasure Beach as the famous amusement park celebrated its 125th anniversary last month.

As coronavirus restrictions continue to be lifted the attraction has slowly but surely opened up its indoor and outdoor areas welcoming guests at a safe capacity.

As the world’s most ride intensive amusement park it also has shows, events, restaurants, bars and cafes and unique attractions plus two luxury hotels the Boulevard and the Big Blue.

This mean there’s a wide range of vacancies available in its new massive recruitment drive launched this week with a diverse range of job roles.

As the attraction gears up for the busy summer season, everything from gardeners to electricians and from receptionists to baristas are needed.

A spokesperson for Blackpool Pleasure Beach said: “Whether you want to work inside or outside, interacting with guests or behind the scenes, there is a world of opportunities for everyone at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

“Whether you are looking for a new career or simply a seasonal position, there is something for everyone, full or part time, seasonal or permanent.

“All staff members receive a number of benefits including a season pass for Blackpool Pleasure Beach during employment, free and discounted eTickets for family and friends, and discounts on retail and food and drink at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.”

The park is also home to an incredible ten rollercoasters including the UK’s first double-launch coaster ICON, Nickelodeon Land loaded with 12 rides and attractions, the world’s first Wallace & Gromit ride, Thill-O-Matic and home to the world’s only Red Arrows Sky Force ride.

All job vacancies at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, and the on park hotels, are listed on the amusement park’s website. To view and apply, please click here.

Drunk man arrested at Preston railway station after causing problems on Blackpool train

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A man was arrested at Preston railway station after causing problems on a train from Blackpool.

Officers from British Transport Police (BTP) were called to the station at 6.40pm yesterday to meet the train coming from Blackpool North railway station.

They were responding to reports of a ‘drunk male causing problems’.

A spokesman for BTP said: “He was ejected from the station, but came back swearing at officers.”

The man was arrested at Preston railway station

The man was arrested at Preston railway station

The man was subsequently arrested and was charged this morning for being drunk and disorderly.

Blackpool RNLI called out to people cut off from tide and person is rescued near Comedy Carpet

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Blackpool’s RNLI team have been busy this bank holiday with a number of incidents involving people cut off by the tide

 

The lifeboat crews were called out just after 1pm to reports of people cut off by the tide between Blackpool and Fleetwood.

After helping make sure that everyone was safe, they headed back to the station but were flagged down near the Tower headland.

A young person had told the crews that their friend was in trouble near the Comedy Carpet.

Lifeboat crews after the rescue near Comedy Carpet - RNLI Blackpool
@RNLIBlackpoolLifeboat crews after the rescue near Comedy Carpet – RNLI Blackpool @RNLIBlackpool

A spokesman for Blackpool RNLI said: “They [the crews] quickly helped the casualty into the lifeboat, provided first aid treatment before taking the casualty to safety and handing over to North West Ambulance Service and Lytham Coastguard.”

The crews were called out just after 1pm RNLI Blackpool
@RNLIBlackpoolThe crews were called out just after 1pm RNLI Blackpool @RNLIBlackpool