You probably pass, or go through the shopping centre every time you’re in Blackpool town centre, and never give it a thought. But do you ever think about how the site has changed at Houndshill Blackpool?
As publishers of Visit Fylde Coast we remember various parts of the history of this area ourselves. Like we say it’s central to the town. Why don’t you add your memories? Leave a comment below, and you can email your photos to jane@theRabbitPatch.co.uk
Thanks once again to Nick Moore and information from his amazing History of Blackpool.
Why it’s called Houndshill
The Hound Hill in Laton was known as the northern boundary of the Hawes. So called because coursing events on Layton Hawes used to start from there. Unleashed from a small rise, the hounds ran southwards across the open flat moss land.
A small cabin railway station called Hound Hill opened on 6 April 1863 – the northern end of the new line from Lytham.Shortly afterwards, the thoroughfare became known as Hounds Hill. By 1890 it was a short street from the Promenade to meet with Adelaide Street. It even had its own Hounds Hill Post Office. The Hounds Hill Hotel stood between Bank Hey Street and the Promenade. Later called the Royal Hotel, it was eventually replaced by the Woolworths building.
Hounds Hill Railway Station
As you’d expect, the small railway station came to be known by locals as Hounds Hill Railway Station.
In 1877 the station is massively enlarged. At that time it’s a building of “ornamental brick-work, with stone dressings, and a roof of glass, supported by ironwork. In the centre of the square is a wooden structure, comprising two booking offices and parcel and left luggage offices”.
In June 1878 it’s renamed Blackpool Central Station. It had four timber platforms and a horse driven turntable.
There were 6 tracks, and three 200-yard-long platforms, with several other waiting rooms and offices. Central Station’s wooden platforms were replaced in 1883, with stone flags on brick walls. The number of railway tracks between South Shore and Central Stations quadruples between 1899 and 1900.
Did you know? That Mister Blackpool, Sir John Bickerstaffe, was born in a small cottage at Caunce Square in Hounds Hill. Elected a town councillor in 1880, made an Alderman in 1887, he served as Mayor in 1889 and 1891. In 1905, he became a Justice of the Peace, and awarded the Freedom of Blackpool in 1912. John Bickerstaffe was intimately involved in many of the most important developments in the town, and knighted for his efforts in 1926.
Behind the new façade, in 1901 Central Station was completely rebuilt, to open at Easter. It now had 14 platforms – exactly the same as Paddington Station in London. This re-development led to the coastal line becoming the main route into Blackpool. By 1905 it was officially the busiest in Europe.
Old Buildings, once on the Houndshill Site
Victoria Congregational Chapel on Victoria Street. The last service in the original church was held on 26 March 1964. In 1968, it moved to the Methodist Mission on Newton Drive, and the old building on Victoria Street was demolished and is now covered by the Houndshill.
The Alpine Hall and Borough Bazaar were built opposite Hounds Hill Railway Station in 1860. The Bazaar was renamed Feldman’s Theatre in 1937, before being sold to Jimmy Brennan in 1952. He renamed it the Queen’s Theatre.
Building on Albert Road began in 1878 on Blackpool’s third fire station – on land now occupied by the Houndshill.
In 1888 Mr Weldon’s Circus Building opened at Hounds Hill. It was Blackpool’s first permanent circus.
Municipal Offices had opened in 1911 on Sefton Street, which also housed Public Health. This building included offices, testing and disinfecting rooms. Uniquely, it also included a Public Health Laboratory for research, where the towns Sanitary Inspector could lead the drive to reduce death from illness and disease. It had cost £6000 to build and was demolished in 1975 to make way for the Houndshill Shopping centre.
The First Houndshill Blackpool Shopping Centre
We always came on holiday to Blackpool each year, and stayed in a holiday flat on Albert Road, which belonged to family friends. I’d have been about seven or eight in those years before work began on the first Houndshill Shopping Centre.
I clearly remember walking to the beach every day, through streets which were later redeveloped. Ladened up with our deckchairs, bags, buckets and spades.
Do you remember what it looked like back then? This photo is from the top of the Tower.
The First Shopping Centre Opens
All of these old buildings were demolished, to make way for the new Houndshill Shopping Centre. It was officially opened on 29 August 1980 by the Bürgermeister of Blackpool’s new “Twin Town” Ernst Wilczok, and Blackpool Mayor Colin Hanson.
Do you remember this terracotta frieze? Was it on the old building?
This next photograph is on the wall in the meeting room, upstairs in the Management Suite. You can clearly see the shape and structure of the first Houndshill Blackpool in this shot.
We clearly remember the first incarnation of the Houndshill site. Do you? The next photo is the Houndshill portion of the photo, with some landmarks picked out.
Remember the old Houndshill in the Town Centre?
- Old buildings, later demolished to make way for the latest phase of development. Used as a temporary car park in 2020.
- Another temporary car park. The bottom corner of this block is now Debenhams. In 2020 the top right corner is New Look.
- The entrance to the multi story car park was in this corner – you could get to it from either of these two roads. Beatties toy shop was just inside this entrance to the first mall.
- Do you remember this bit of the multi storey car park? Goodness me it was an education! A new section of multi storey was now open but you had to drive through this old bit to get out of the car park. Put it this way, it would have made a good location set for a 1970s mafia movie!
- The back entrance to C&A, later TK Maxx. At this time you could cut round the corner where the side entrance is to come out against the old Argos. It’s the entrance to the loading bay now. Remember Hesketh fish and chip shop, in that little bit of black roofed building to the right of our number 5?
- Coronation Rock – still there now.
- And to orientate you, this is McDonalds corner.
- This small road in the photo is the that’s the access ramp to the multi story car park.
Shops in the First Houndshill Blackpool
The three-acre site had 40 shop units, including Goldberg’s department store.
The first Houndshill Shopping Centre development included:
- Beatties toy and model shop,
- Lawleys china,
- Timpsons shoes,
- Half Price or Less (now known as Home Bargains) which closed in February 2006 when the next phase of development began
- In February 1987 Hounds Hill Post Office and the Jasmine House Chinese restaurant on Adelaide Street both closed. They’re now part of the Waterstones book shop.
- The Coronation Rock shop is the only established business to survive the redevelopment.
Blackpool could now offer visitors and residents over one million square feet of shopping space.
Brian Johnson now lives in Canada but still calls Blackpool home. He left a comment below about Goldbergs, and sent us this photo.
Brian says “Goldbergs was the flagship store of the mall. I worked there and so did my wife and I left a post about it. But why is it missed it was the biggest store before Debenhams? People came from Manchester to shop there! It was the only Goldbergs store outside of Scotland and it’s other 99 stores. The store was the first in Europe to have electronic central tills for payment and the windows won awards, as did Lewisses.”
Strange that we didn’t remember it! What Everyone Wants later opened in the unit in January 1991/closed December 2002, and Bewise opened its biggest UK store there in April 2003.
Did you know? Miss Hounds Hill was held in 1980 and won by Beverley Cowburn.
The original Houndshill Shopping Centre then underwent a radical rebuild and development, to the site that we’re familiar with today.
On 21 August 2008 the new Debenhams store is opened to the public by Coronation Street actress Jenny McAlpine (Fizz). Debenhams is on the exact site of the old Co-op Emporium.
Other big names to open at the same time included Next, River Island, and Barratts shoes. Along with a new upstairs food hall, the centre is now 400,000 square feet in size.
Do you remember the old shops and buildings which once faced the side entrance of the Winter Gardens?
There was a cafe and a shop selling ladies clothes. Another was a narrow warren of linked rooms, packed full of artificial flowers and ornaments. See number 1 on the captioned photo above.
In February 2011, The Tower Buildings on Coronation Street/Victoria Street were demolished. The buildings included the Galleon bar and several small shops. Buildings in a block bounded by Adelaide Street, Leopold Grove, and Alfred Street at the back of the Winter Gardens were also bulldozed.
The upstairs food court was completely refurbished in 2015. The food retailers all closed while work was carried out.
Future Development for Houndshill Blackpool
The temporary car park adjacent to the Winter Gardens is earmarked for redevelopment as a mixed use leisure and retail space.
Various plans have been mooted over the years, starting with the suggestion of a hotel and more recently the relocation of the Wilkinson’s store from Talbot Road.
However, all of these ambitious ideas are part of a much bigger Blackpool jigsaw. It also included the sale of the centre to Blackpool Council in 2019.
And then the coronavirus crisis happened…. To be continued…