Whether it is your first or one-hundred-and-first visit, Blackpool is a town of countless stories and secrets. Behind the bright lights and tourist attractions, you’ll find a fascinating history that can make even regular guests’ jaws drop. Tall tales and the gossip of past generations abound here. For every documented fact there are two wild rumours and the more you dig, the more interesting it gets.
Blackpool’s network of secret underground tunnels are an absolutely classic rumour, to take just one example. Exactly how many passages, chambers and stores lie beneath the streets of Blackpool? Some parts are well documented and were used in WW2, while far more recently in 2013 The Guardian investigated the possibility that hidden passages may even have been used by thieves who robbed the Strictly Come Dancing Stars! (Read the article here).
Other popular Blackpool rumours and urban myths are rife, from assorted ghosts to the arch criminals of bygone eras. Some of the true stories are every bit as crazy as the lies: One of the town's most notorious characters of all time, for example, was the notorious George Joseph Smith, a man with a nasty habit of dissolving his wives in baths of acid. The 1971 jewellery heist on the Strand is another true story, that resulted in a hair raising getaway race in which a police officer was killed.
Back to the present day, Blackpool is as fascinating as ever, but much safer it's fair to say! Visitors are well catered for when it comes to guided and specialist tours too. So where exactly are the best places to take your own tour of Blackpool and delve into its secrets? Here are some of our favourites:
Top notch Tram Tours: What better way to see the sights of Blackpool than with a nostalgic journey on a classic tram? 2015 will see Blackpool celebrate 130 years of service for its much-loved tram system. Although a blast from the past, this vintage transport method is still a popular and efficient way of getting about. Heritage Tram Tours run from now until October and are a must for any heritage fans or lovers of old school transport. Get further information and tickets here: www.blackpooltransport.com/services/heritage-trams
Did you know?: Blackpool had the first electric tramway in the UK.
Hop to it: Open Top Bus Tours: For those new to Blackpool, an open-topped bus tour is a great way to see the town and all the best attractions. You’ll see all of the most famous and historic landmarks, from the iconic Blackpool Tower to the zoo. Unbeatable on a sunny day, tours are cracking for getting to know your way around and seeing which classic Blackpool attractions you fancy visiting later. Tours run from April onwards, with more details HERE.
Did you know: Before becoming a famous holiday destination, Blackpool was a tiny coastal settlement. In 1801 it had just 500 residents; 100 years later this had rocketed to 47,000.
Haunted Blackpool: While some visitors flock to the town’s sunniest sights and attractions, author and tour guide Stephen Mercer has an eye on a darker world. For anyone with a steady heart, his tours lift the lid on a fascinating world of ghosts and unexplained mysteries. Do you have the nerve to join him? Click here for further tour details and tickets.
Did you know? The lost village of Kilmigrol lies somewhere off Blackpool beach, rumoured to have been destroyed by a natural disaster. For centuries, locals have seen eerie lights and even heard warning bells ring from where the settlement once stood.
Strike a Light! : For anyone who loves a spot of local colour and history, Blackpool Heritage Tours run some excellent guided trips to take you closer to the town’s legendary places. The Winter Gardens are full of interest, while you could also take a trip to Lightworks, home of Blackpool Illuminations. You’re in great hands with nationally accredited guides too, locals with a real passion for Blackpool heritage. See the site for full details and times for forthcoming tours: www.blackpoolheritagetours.co.uk
Did you know? 1977 is the one and only time Blackpool Illuminations have been switched on by a horse! The animal was none other than racing champion Red Rum, who also won the Grand National the same year.