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Cometh the tower. . . the past, present and future of Blackpool

NEW CONCRETE ENGINEERING

At the beginning of the 19th Century, Blackpool was a small town of less than 500 people on the north west coast of England. One hundred years later, it was home to more than 47,000.

This huge expansion was mainly due to the town's tourist industry, particularly in the 1840s when the railway reached the town, allowing cheap and fast travel for the industrial working classes of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Many of Blackpool's most famous attractions were built in the second half of the 19th Century, including its three piers, the Blackpool Tower, the Grand Theatre and the large wheel at the Winter Gardens.

In 1879, the town became the first in the world to have electric street lighting.

Its famous illuminations were first switched on in 1912, extending the holiday season by eight weeks.

But the town, which claims to be the UK's number one tourist resort, has fallen on hard times in recent years. Competition from foreign holidays has seen visitor numbers slumping, and there is high unemployment out of season.

Rejuvenation of tourism is the driving force behind Blackpool Council's £1bn, 20-year regeneration masterplan.

This involves upgrading existing attractions, building new facilities and possibly constructing up to four casino hotels.

The idea is to create a 'Las Vegas of the north' but it all depends on government legislation.

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