A Blackpool architect who since school has had designs on doing something special on the Prom today spoke of his pride at achieving that dream.
Andy Ince of South Shore was the man behind the design of the Velvet Coaster, Wetherspoon’s £3.8m, three floored pub now open on South Promenade.
Andy, a former pupil of St Joseph’s, now St Mary’s Catholic Academy, said the pub gave him a “real buzz” when it was finally completed.
He said when he was doing his A-levels he did a thesis on the architecture of Blackpool Promenade and told his teachers that he would be proud to add a building to the prom.
Now 35 years on he said he had achieved one of his life’s ambitions.
Andy who is a director of Harrison Ince architects in Manchester said the Velvet Coaster was probably the most satisfying job of his career.
He has worked on many pubs on the Fylde including the Albert and the Lion, The Poulton Elk and the Railway Hotel in Lytham, among others.
He said: “We do a lot of work with Wetherspoon’s and they are great to work with .
“We have been involved in more than 200 pub builds and redesigns but this one is probably the one I am most proud of.
“There was one at Ilfracombe which was inspired by shells and waves, but the Coaster, which has similar themes is in my home town.
“At the time I was doing my A-Levels I said to the teacher that I would love to build something special on the Prom and now 35 yeas later I have.”
He said his company had been given free rein to come up with the design and they were inspired by the historic roller coaster from the nearby Pleasure Beach and the movement of the waves from the sea.
He said: “The biggest thing in a pub design is taking into account the movement of people inside. You have the bars, kitchens and toilets and people move between.
“And of course there are the entrances and fire escapes, particularly with a pub of that size.
“Obviously it has to be an attractive design and Wetherspoon’s like to use a lot of glass to let people see in and out. It has to be open and welcoming particularly to families and women not like the old fashioned boozers.
“Lighting has to be right too and serious visual interest with a strong local connection.
“The Coaster was great because of its prominent position and size although because it is on three floors it does not feel cavernous even though it is 9,150 square feet and the biggest in the country if not Europe.
“The external area is a real bonus. When we were building it in April it was wonderful on the outside in the brilliant sunshine.”
However, the build was held up at the start by the high winds in January which for safety reasons meant that no work on the roofs could go ahead and the use of the giant crane on Sundays was limited.
“We could only use the crane of Sundays because they needed to close the road and the winds stopped us for four or five weeks. We had hoped to be open for Easter.
“When we first went into the old building it was in a much worse state than we thought and I later wished we could have knocked it all down!
“People have been very kind about the new pub it seems to have been well received and to have been involved in such a prominent building has given me a real buzz. My parents I know are really proud.
“We are bringing the team, there’s around 20 of us , up from Manchester to Blackpool soon to visit the Pleasure Beach and then go to the Coaster for a treat.”