Blackpool North Pier
Blackpool North’s pier has one of the most illustrious stories of all UK piers, far too eventful for me to attempt to recount here. Built by the great Eugenius Birch, who between 1855 and 1884 built 14 piers, it was hugely popular from the start.
At its’ opening in May 1863, all the shops in town were closed and decorated with flags and streamers. The ceremony was a very grand affair and attended by more than 20,000 visitors, this in a town with a population of 4,000. In 1864 the town had 465,000 visitors.
Like most, if not all piers, it has suffered damage from fires, storms and collisions with boats, once with Nelson’s former flagship, HMS Foudroyant, as well as an assortment of steamers and other wayward vessels.
It had an exotic Indian Pavilion, destroyed by fire in 1921 and it’s replacement destroyed by fire seventeen years later and there has been plenty more fires since then.
The story goes that Harry Corbett bought the original Sooty puppet on the North pier for his son. When Harry appeared on the BBC’s Talent Night programme, he rubbed soot on the puppets nose and ears so that they would show up on black and white TV, I remember watching it and having my own Sooty puppet, complete with wand.
Peter Sedgwick owns all three Blackpool piers, he says that he proposed to his wife on the North Pier and promised to buy it for here one day.
We should all be grateful to Peter for his continuing commitment to the piers.