We’re singing in the rain. Well, it beats whingeing through the summer...
As the rest of Britain basks in balmy sunshine Blackpool’s as barmy as ever.
But if there’s one thing Blackpool’s good at it’s turning a negative into a positive.
So let’s take one of the soggiest summers on record and stick it right where it belongs – under cover of one of Blackpool’s top tourist attractions.
The town is already booming with school holiday trade but visit the Floral Hall between now and the end of August and you’ll see a blooming marvellous attraction.
Singing In The Rain has been brought to life in floral form in the heart of the newly restored Winter Gardens.
A green moss rather than Moss Brothers-suited Gene Kelly has pride of place in the main Floral Hall and, from tomorrow, the Moulin Rouge in flowers will flourish beneath the Dome of the Winter Gardens.
The Pollinations is a new floral art display commissioned by Marketing Blackpool from an idea created by independent agency Showbizworks.
It will run until the end of August when the Illuminations switch on. Beat that for cross-pollination...
The aim is to draw residents and visitors into the building – for much the same reason as their Victorian counterparts.
In its heyday the Floral Hall was just that – in recent years much of the greenery has come from the palms lining the imposing area.
The Pollinations, which will be repeated next year, with a different theme, have been designed to underline the resort’s status as one of the dance capitals of the world.
Most will be quick to recognise the celebrated street scene that sees Kelly stretching out from a street lamp, umbrella in hand.
Showbizworks director Martin Blore explains: “Our hope is that this evolves each year as we add to the displays to ultimately create the country’s largest indoor flower show.”
Martin, former general manager of The Tower, is back on familiar turf with the project and beams: “The Winter Gardens is looking the best it has for years – and we want as many people as possible to appreciate that fact ... and also see the display.
“We started with an entertainment brief but opted for dance because it’s synonymous with the building and Blackpool. It just seemed natural, in every sense, to create a display that celebrated dance. We didn’t want to go for a cliché and they don’t get more iconic than Singing In The Rain and Moulin Rouge. Timely too, given the wet summer so there’s a sense of irony here too.”
Also stepping forward to take a bow is the talented designer who has crafted the displays, Lytham-based Beverley Wood of BWD (Beverley Wood Design).
Beverley, formerly in retail, moved to south Fylde when her husband transferred to Warton’s British Aerospace base. She specialises in 2D and 3D conceptual design for retail and tourism projects.
She has reinvented and redesigned visitor centres in other towns and her portfolio includes big name clients such as Manchester’s Arndale Centre, Liverpool’s St George’s Hall, John Lennon Airport and more. She also specialises in street furniture.
In spite of having been based here for 12 years Beverley admits: “This is my first local project. I’ve been hoping to get involved in the regeneration of the resort’s spaces and this is a lovely introduction to that.”
She’s thrilled with the light and airiness of the complex.
Beverley said: “You only have to explore the Winter Gardens and see the pictures on display to realise the potential of the Floral Hall for revival in that tradition – it’s a great space but the key rests in drawing people within to look around.
“The displays are part of that. We’ve gone for a 5ft by 4m banner as a backdrop, a Boston street scene which actually looks quintessentially British, and it draws the eye.”
Although both displays are static the living flowers, 1,000 red and white kalanchoe, a robust semi-succulent, help animate the complex and also prove a real talking point.
Martin, who used to promote Southport Flower Show, says: “This complex is a fabulous asset, the town has some great public spaces at its disposal, and there’s no reason why it couldn’t present a great flower show.
“Indoors or outdoors. It would be lovely if this could spill out onto St John’s Square.”
Both displays are being put together by commercial horticulturists from Myerscough Horticultural College.
Team leader Debbie Smith, Tris Melia, Cathryn Patient and Maria Cleary, live on the Fylde, so are particularly proud of the project.
Maria, of Poulton, says: “We’ve been here for concerts or other events but this gives us the chance as local girls to really be part of something very special.
“It’s such a gorgeous building and this is just what it needs to bring people in. It’s a privilege to be involved. A labour of love.”
or tweet her @ jacquimorley