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Returning to Blackpool after more than 20 years away

David, inset, who is in the middle of the group, on the right, grew up in Addison Crescent and looked forward to seeing his childhood friends and Blackpool again.
David, inset, who is in the middle of the group, on the right, grew up in Addison Crescent and looked forward to seeing his childhood friends and Blackpool again.

You sometimes only notice how a place changes the longer you have been away from it.

This is how David Roskell felt when he visited his hometown of Blackpool recently after migrating to Australia nearly 50 years ago.

David, on the left, with his siblings.

David, on the left, with his siblings.

David arrived in the UK at the end of August for a two-month stay in the country, the first time he has been since 1995.

The 71-year-old contacted the Gazette shortly before leaving Australia hoping to get back in touch with some of his former school friends and reliving his youth by visiting all of the places he remembers growing up and after a month of being in the resort,

The Gazette spoke to David about what he remembers of the resort and what has changed since his last visit more than 20 years ago.

David said: “It feels like I have never been away to be honest. I always have and always will call Blackpool my hometown and it was good to get out and about in the town again.

He was happy to be back in Blackpool.

He was happy to be back in Blackpool.

“I have gone back to my drinking haunts, such as the Bloomfield Conservative Club, Bloomfield Brew House, The Brunswick and H&A which I have spent a few nights in!

“I have been to both the North and South Ma Kelly’s, which are an experience to say the least, but I have also bumped into close friends again.

“It was great to see Loz Ryan again after so many years and he was one of the guys I asked The Gazette’s help for.

When asked about the future of Blackpool, David thinks it has a good few years ahead.

He said: “I can see it in about five to ten years being a great place again. They have made some brilliant improvements in some parts of the town, such as the Winter Gardens and with the warmer summers, I think more and more people will come flooding back for a holiday like the old days.

“What is shame is a lot of the iconic buildings have been pulled down when they should have been renovated like the Hippodrome Theatre and Derby Baths.

“The schools I remember have disappeared to, like Palatine and Blackpool Grammar and I found out that Devonshire Road school was burnt down a few years ago.

“It is also very sad at how The Metropole Hotel is in a state of disrepair. It was a really classy, grand hotel in it’s day and the place to go in Blackpool.

“These beautiful buildings should all be restored instead of some of the monstrosities they build.

David came on the extended holiday with his daughter Naomi, son-in-law Mark and his grandson Zac who hadn’t been to the resort before. They returned to Australia last week but David remains until the end of the month with his 63-year-old brother Graham and sister-in-law Cathy who have also made the trip from Oz.

Blackpool was one of a number of the places David has visited whilst back in the UK.

He said: “We started in the south of England, came up through Nottingham and finally made it to Blackpool.

“We only stayed for a few days before we went to Ireland where we drove all over.

“After getting back to England we went up to the Lake District for a few days but the rest of the time it has been in Blackpool.

The rest of his family left Blackpool in 1968 to go Down Under and David followed suit four years later after leaving the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

The extended holiday is to mark 50 years since the Roskell family emigrated to Australia.

The Gazette has reunited David with a couple of his old childhood friends but he still hopes to meet up with others before he returns to Austalia at the end of the month.

He would still like to get in touch with Trevor Andrews and Glyn Stone, who he went to Palatine High School with, as well as any old friends who knew him.

If you remember David and would like to get back in touch, call (01253) 361727 or email james.graves@jpress.co.uk