OPENING OF THE SOUTH BLACKPOOL JETTY.
Saturday last saw the opening of the South Blackpool Jetty, an undertaking which has been in hand for upwards of a couple of years, and has at last reached such a point of forwardness to warrant the directors in opening it to the public. The promoters of the scheme were confident that it would prove as beneficial for the south part of the town as what will now be called the “old pier” was for the north ; and accordingly, having launched their design to the public (stating their capital at £20,000, in 2,000 shares at £10 each) they at once set to work collecting signatures to two memorials or petitions for presentation to the committee of the House of Commons in support of their project. The first of these petitions was from the Commissioners of the Board of Health in their official capacity. The second memorial was from the ratepayers, who appeared to be as unanimous as the members of the Board of Health in support of the pier and jetty. This memorial especially received the signatures of a large number of ratepayers resident near the site of the proposed pier and jetty, and also many of those who resided in the immediate vicinity of the old pier. The only opponents were the directors of the former pier company, who naturally regarded the scheme with some degree of jealousy. The scheme itself comprised of the following general outlines : —The undertaking was named “The South Blackpool Jetty Company, Limited and for the purposes of the works authorised they were from time to time, by agreement, to enter on and take the necessary lands specified on their plans. The works sought to be authorised were—a promenade, pier, jetty, and landing place, and all necessary works and conveniences for the embarking of passengers, goods, and merchandise, and other purposes, commencing a point on the shore near the Wellington Hotel, and opposite Chapel-street, and extending from such point into the sea in a westerly direction, a distance about sixteen hundred feet or thereabouts. The particulars of the scheme were submitted to the Board of Trade, and that body entertained and considered objections founded on alleged injury to public interests or alleged violations of admitted principles ; their province was not to settle objections arising out of competition or out of opposition between local interests. In March, 1866, the Board of Trade reported favourably on the proposed works. Blackpool thus secured the additional attraction of a second pier, and no time was lost in prosecuting the work. The contract for the erection of the new pier and jetty was given to Messrs. Robert Laid law and Son, of Glasgow, for the sum of £I8,550. The first pile was screwed in July, 1867. The work was proceeded with, and the promise of Messrs. Laidlaw and Son was fulfilled that the jetty should be completed by the commencement of the present season. The steady increase of visitors to Blackpool since the formation the company still more convinced the directors of the desirability of the new pier being erected. Writing respecting visitors, we may mention that last it was estimated that the visitors to Blackpool in one season were not fewer in number than one hundred and thirty four thousand ; and as year by year the number had increased, even to five hundred thousand, no one could doubt that a new jetty, for the south end Blackpool, would be a great success. When the old pier was commenced, the rateable value of Blackpool was £16,000, but it has now risen over three hundred per cent., its present value being £40,000. The new pier, as opened on Saturday, may be described as follows —This capital construction is fraught with exceptional and remarkable features. Varying in design from all previous marine structures, it forms an object in the shore view exceedingly picturesque and effective. It is composed of wrought iron and timber. The dimensions are as follows : total length, I,518 feet, the main promenade being 1,118 feet, and the lower promenade or jetty 400 feet. The entrance is on an abutment sixty feet in width, where there are gates, toll-houses, waiting and retiring rooms. In the centre, for the accommodation of visitors, there is a pure water fountain. From this point the main promenade or pier proper commences and extends to the pier head. There are seats each side, the whole length of the promenade, together with twelve recesses, containing shops for fancy articles and refreshments. The promenade and recesses are supported on clusters of piles and arches, the whole being of wrought iron plates, quite novel in design and very great strength. The pier head is rectangular in form and composed of strong timber, containing a surface of 8,120, superficial feet. There are erected thereon two large waiting, reading, and refreshment rooms, and commodious shelter and wind guard. Two sets of stairs are so arranged that visitors can have easy access to gangways on a lower level than the main promenade, and from which they can embark upon or disembark from steamers and pleasure boats at high water. These gangways slope gently seaward, and at the end of the pier head, they join what has before been named the lower promenade, which is also of timber, with iron gratings on the surface. It is of less width than the main promenade, and is so arranged that steam and pleasure boats can ply with ease and safety at all such other times of the tide that they cannot conveniently do the pier head. At the extreme head of the jetty is a beacon light, required by the authorities of the Trinity House.
On Saturday the number of visitors was considerably in excess of previous seasons in the month of May, no doubt increased by the early approach Whitsuntide, which, in this county, is generally kept by the industrial classes as a holyday time. The pier was thrown open at ten o’clock to the public, at a charge of one penny per person, but during the morning not many persons went through the turnstile, but the number was increased in the afternoon, when the pier was thronged with visitors. The pier was ornamented with branches of evergreens, and, with bannerets which floated at intervals, presented very lively and agreeable appearance. At the sea end there had been elected kind of triumphal arch, covered with green branches, and forming an appropriate pendant to the whole. Soon after ten o’clock the band of the 3rd Lancashire Militia marched on the pier. having arrived from Preston by the 9:00 train; Mr. Norwood being the bandmaster, and Mr. Nelson the band sergeant. The band at once took up a position about midway on the pier, and discoursed some capital music in a most excellent style, to the delight of those who listened. Soon afterwards Bridge’s “Christy Minstrels” made their appearance, and they amused the populace with their funny sayings during the intervals of the performances the militia. At two o’clock, the Lancashire Artillery Volunteers—35 in number, marched on the pier, headed by their commandeering officer, Captain Hanks: went to the end of the construction, and then marched back to their armoury, where they had been undergoing one of their usual company drills, and were then dismissed. The only sign of public demonstration was the marching of the militia band, after having exhausted themselves of the programme, to the Hotel, for dinner. During the afternoon the pier was much thronged, and the newly-appointed toll collectors had a busy time of it in taking the pennies of hundreds who, almost to the desertion of the old pier, west anxious to patronise the new one.