After it was named Blackpool’s Street of the Year for a second time, Rob Devey paid a visit to Bairstow Street to ask residents and guests what makes their road so special.
Pop down to Bairstow Street, just off Blackpool Prom and you are taken by surprise by the blaze of colour.
Flowers, flags and brightly painted buildings combine to make this street stand out a mile from many other drab back streets.
And every night, the different coloured lights, switched on by the Greenmount Hotel, add a touch of extra magic.
I was here to find out why Bairstow Street, which dates back to the late 19th century, was awarded Street of the Year 2014 by the Blackpool Civic Trust, following a nomination by Bloomfield ward councillors Graham Cain and John Jones.
The road, predominantly made up of hotels, with a small number of homes, had previously won the award in 2011
Their walls – painted in everything from red and green, to pink and lilac – give the street something of a continental feel.
But how and why do the building owners put in all this effort?
I’m told that the idea of painting walls came from Blackpool Council several years ago, but that many hoteliers then chose to go one step further.
“It’s nice when everyone makes an effort,” says Carole Cregan, 52, who has run the Clifton House guest house for 25 years.
“The hanging baskets make it look nice and everybody is doing their bit.
“The street has changed a lot over the years, all for the better and we now get people who were just driving past in the car stopping and saying how nice it is. Some of then even take pictures.”
Carole tells me people were proud to have won the award again and admits the contest has generated some friendly rivalry.
“There is a bit of rivalry between us and streets like St Chad’s Road,” she says.
“It feels good to make that extra effort and pip them to the award!”
The attractive street scene also goes down well with guests. Gordon Dickson, 67, from Dunfermline in Scotland, tells me he and his wife stay at Clifton House every year.
“It’s a nice bonny place and that definitely makes you want to come back and stay,” he says. “More streets should do this kind of thing, others look drab by comparison.”
Julie Wormall, 59, who has run the Hound Dog Hotel with husband Phil for nine years, says: “It’s lovely how we all pull together and try and keep the street nice, clean and tidy.
“People can see the flowers from the prom and we want them to come along here and see how nice Blackpool is.
“It’s not just here – there are other streets with flags and baskets and it’s nice for tourists, our guests and ourselves.”
Phil Brown, runs the Newlands Hotel with wife Heather and being an end property the couple are lucky enough to have the best street plaque on their wall. “There are lots of areas in Blackpool that people do not see, but you can see our street from the sea front and because it looks attractive people come along here,” says Phil.
“People here have always looked after their properties.
“Perhaps its partly because many of the guesthouses along here are aimed at families who are more likely to come back if they like what they see, rather than stag and hen parties on a one-off visit.
“It takes us 15 minutes every evening to water and de-head the flowers in our hanging baskets but it’s well worth the effort.”
Residents too, have joined in the effort, and appreciate their surroundings.
Retired delivery driver, Chris Griffin, 65, who has lived on the street for almost 30 years with his wife Margarete, painted their house lilac eight years ago.
“It’s made a big difference,” he says. “It makes you feel great when you step out the door - apart from when you bang your head on one of the hanging baskets!”
Judges said the street, which also won last year’s Streets in Bloom competition, was a shining example of community spirit.
Civic Trust chairman, Joan Humble, said: “The judges who looked at the entries were impressed that, in this very busy hospitality street, it is clear that almost every business has co-operated to make this street very attractive. The public areas as well as the hotel fronts have been well looked after and tidied and community spirit is very evident.”
Coun Cain added: “The street looks fantastic and the award is richly deserved. Bairstow Street is a gem and an example to everyone of what can be achieved.”
n The Trust also gave awards to three Blackpool primary schools which took part in the Blackpool Scarecrow Festival at Salisbury woodland. Judges award first place to St Bernadette’s Catholic Primary school while Boundary Primary School and St Kentigern’s Catholic Primary School scooped second and third place respectively. Kingcraig Primary School won the overall Civic Trust prize.