Ten Blackpool sights which have gone forever

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These 10 famous Blackpool sights have now been confined to the history books.

Take a look at Blackpool’s top 10 lost sights.

Lost Archive glass plate negative The Oxford Hotel, Oxford Square, Marton

Lost Archive glass plate negative The Oxford Hotel, Oxford Square, Marton

1. The Great Wheel

It once stood proudly above Blackpool, affording magnificent views of the Irish Sea and beyond.

The London Eye of its day, Blackpool’s Great Wheel on Coronation Street was a wonder of the Victorian Age.

The Great Wheel was built in 1896, at the south west corner of the Winter Gardens and became a major attraction in the resort.

But the cumbersome 1896 wheel grew too old and too slow for 1920s Blackpool. It was dismantled in 1928 and its 30 28ft x 9ft carriages were sold off to heritage fans.

The last remaining piece of the wheel is owned by Mrs Judith Hunter, of St Michaels. Every now and then, Mrs Hunter and husband Peter open the 28ft by 9ft carriage to the public.

2. South Shore Open Air Baths

The open air baths opened in June 1923, modelled on the Colosseum of Rome. Over the years the baths provided a catwalk for thousands of bathing beauty queens.

In the early 1930s it became a backdrop for the film Sing As We Go, whose star Gracie Fields signed the visitors’ book with the message: “Now’t wrong wi’ Blackpool Baths.”

In 1959, another movie star, Hollywood’s Jayne Mansfield, visited the baths when she came to switch on Blackpool Illuminations.

A watch tower was built in the baths, for the safety of bathers – attendants posted on the tower had access to a small motor boat to aid them in the rescue of bathers in trouble.

But eventually, it became a white elephant and was demolished in 1983, to make way for the all-weather Sandcastle.

3. Blackpool Central Station

Central Station opened in April 1863, as little more than a cabin. Back then, it was known as Houndshill Station and was renamed Central Station in 1878.

It was one of Britain’s busiest provincial termini.

At its peak, Central Station, with its sister Blackpool North, could handle more than 460 trains in 24 hours. It brought millions of trippers to the doorstep of the Golden Mile, under the shadow of the Tower.

The last train steamed out of Central Station in November 1964, after a controversial decision by rail chief to sell the prime 23-acre site for redevelopment.

It is pictured here, in the 1950s, looking towards Marks And Spencer on the corner of Albert Road and Bank Hey Street.

4. Aviary and menagerie, Blackpool Tower

Could you believe you could once see caged lions, bears and even crocodiles at Blackpool Tower?

While the Tower was being built in 1893, the old aquarium, aviary and zoo was kept open to the public to earn revenue. The original Tower menagerie or zoo became the legendary setting for Stanley Holloway’s famous monologue The Lion and Albert.

The menagerie and monkey house were on the first floor. There was a reptile enclosure – including crocodiles, birds – of course, lions, leopards, cheetahs, bears, pumas, porcupines and monkeys.

5. Great Marton Windmill, Oxford Square, Marton

The Great Marton Mill stood at the end of Waterloo Road, close to what is now Oxford Square, next to the Oxford Hotel. It stood derelict for a number of years, having been struck by lightning in 1807.

In this picture from the 1890s, discovered in the Gazette’s Lost Archives, the mill can be seen with the Oxford Hotel in the foreground.

Although the mill itself is long gone – it was demolished in around 1900 – the hotel remained and became a pub, which has since been knocked down and an Aldi supermarket built on the site – about to open in two weeks.

The cottage which stood alongside the mill was one of the oldest homes in the borough when it was demolished at the end of the 1920s.

6. Raikes Hall Gardens

Raikes Hall Gardens, also known as the Royal Palace Gardens, was the original home of Blackpool Football Club.

Built in 1760, as a “gentleman’s residence” by William Butcher, Raikes Hall was later occupied by the Hornby family, until 1860 when it was let as a school to the Sisters of the Holy Christ Jesus, until Layton Hill Convent was completed in 1870.

Sold by Daniel Hornby’s widow in 1871-72 to the Raikes Hall Park, Gardens and Aquarium Co. Ltd, these extensive Pleasure Gardens, in their later life, included a lake, skating rink, aviary, theatre and switchback ride.

By the turn of the century, Raikes Hall had lost its popularity in favour of the Golden Mile and the gardens finally closed, with the land being sold in 1901.

This complex also was the home of Blackpool FC until it moved to Bloomfield Road.

7. The Hippodrome

The Hippdrome, on Church Street, opened in 1900. It had opened in 1985 as the Empire Theatre. The Hippodrome was a theatre, which provided all forms of entertainment for 67 years.

Renamed the ABC in 1863, it was closed as a theatre in 2000. and became the silver-clad Syndicate nightclub.

The Syndicate closed in August 2011 after nine years at the centre of the town’s clubbing scene, when it could house up to 4,000 clubbers on a weekend night.

It has since been knocked down. Blackpool Council intends to use the Church Street site as a car park until a suitable use for the prime town centre site can be found.

8. Derby Baths

The Derby Baths opened in 1939, at a cost of £270,00 – 10 times more than any other pools of the era. Even in its early days, it was regarded by some as something of an expensive white elephant, but it did draw thousands in its role as water theatre.

In its heyday, it could host more than 1,000 swimmers a day and had a capacity for 1,800 spectators.

The building was a grand affair, with the heating and ventilation – which was blamed for condensation troubles in later years – costing £65,000 alone and the greatest expense.

But in the late 80s, the number of swimmers using the baths began to drop and the council made the decision it should close.

Despite protests at the town hall by hundreds of people against the axe, the site was sold to Lonrho’s Metropole Hotels group in a £1.45m deal. It was demolished in 1990.

9. The Aquarium, Blackpool Tower

The Undersea World Aquarium in Blackpool Tower, actually opened 19 years before the Tower, in 1875. Situated on the ground floor, it was originally known as Dr Cocker’s Menagerie, and attracted thousands of visitors each year.

It included turtles, conger eels, rays, sharks, crabs and all manner of tropical and fresh water fish, darting among the natural rockery in eletrically lit tanks among the cool shadows.

After 135 years, it closed, with its 200 slippery inhabitants being moved to Great Yarmouth and the Sealife Centre down the road on the Promenade.

10. Yates’s Wine Lodge, Talbot Square

Yates’s Wine Lodge once stood proudly, as one of the cornerstones of Talbot Square, but was demolished, following a devastating fire in February 2009.

It first opened in 1868 as The Theatre Royal and Assembly Rooms, later becoming the Free Library in 1880.

Wine Lodge founder Peter Yates, having rented part of the premises two years earlier, bought the freehold of the famous octagonal building in 1896.

The site is now ear-marked for a Premier Inn hotel.

• Which lost Blackpool sights do you miss and have fond memories of? Email emma.harris@blackpoolgazette.co.uk or tweet @Eve_Writer_Emma