Blackpool’s £13 million museum project to become a reality after last chunk of funding secured

The final £4 million of the £13 million needed to open a museum celebrating Blackpool’s glitzy past has been secured.

Monday, 24th June 2019, 9:30 am
An artists impression of how the new showbiz museum, called Amuseum, will look when it opens in 2021 and, inset, Kerry Vasiliou and Emma Heslewood with Stan Laurels signed bowler hat

It means the funding jigsaw needed to see the project become a reality has been completed – after six years of planning.

‘Amuseum’ will honour the resort’s spot as the UK’s favourite seaside destination and its role in the development of British pop culture.

Built in the Sands building on the Prom in the town centre, it will be part-museum, part-visitor attraction, capturing the true spirit of Blackpool.

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Holidaymakers will be able to learn more about Blackpool’s links with dance, comedy, live variety acts, the Illuminations, circus, and sideshows. They will also get the chance to get up close with the iconic entertainers who put the resort on the map – the comedians, dancers, acrobats, performers, and larger-than-life characters who turned a coastal community into the world capital of show business.

Open year-round, the tourist trap will be a “fully-immersive, family-friendly experience”, the council said, filled with memorabilia, film, music, and live performance, giving visitors an opportunity to look behind the scenes at what it took make Blackpool so special in the eyes of so many.

Coun Gillian Campbell, pictured inset, the deputy leader at Blackpool Council, said: “This is fantastic news, it’s the final piece in the jigsaw and now our dreams can become a reality. It has been six years since I first sat down with council officers and discussed the concept of a museum celebrating Blackpool’s rich heritage and its unique place in the nation’s heart.

“We did not want to just create a display of Blackpool’s history, we aspired to do something completely unique that you would only experience here.

“Thanks to the effort and expertise of our volunteers and supporters and the commitment of hard-working council officers we finally have an amazing concept that is financially viable.

“The official launch of our plans will follow in the autumn.”

In partnership with the London-based Victoria and Albert Museum, the venue will display, collect, research, and celebrate collections related to popular entertainment, and is expected to open in 2021 and attract some 300,000 people every year.

More than £7 million of the £13 million has come from outside funding.

Last March, The Gazette revealed how an iconic bowler hat once owned – and signed – by Stan Laurel will be on display at the Amuseum, which was expected to open next year but has now been pushed back.

The hat was “acquired” by the council and will form part of resort musician Cyril Critchlow’s collection.

The comedian, one half of legendary duo Lauren and Hardy, gave it to Cyril after playing at the Palace Theatre in June 1947 and signed the lining: “Hello Cyril, Stan Laurel.”

When Cyril died a decade ago, his collection was donated to the town – but his hat had already been sold to a private collector in 1989.

Curator Emma Heslewood said: “Blackpool is the home of popular entertainment so it’s fantastic that a hat from an internationally renowned comedian, originally given to a local performer in the town over seventy years ago, has finally returned home.”