Aerial view of the Houndshill site before the Debenhams extension was built. See the cars parked on what was once the Co-op Emporium.

Houndshill Blackpool – how the Site’s Changed

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.

One of the buildings on the old Hound Hill - you can just see the name on the wall.
One of the buildings on the old Hound Hill – you can just see the name on the wall at the left.

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.

Blackpool Central Railway Station, before demolition in 1966
Blackpool Central Railway Station, before demolition in 1966

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.

Our early holidays at Alfred Street Blackpool
Our early holidays at Alfred Street Blackpool

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.

View of the Houndshill Blackpool site from the top of the Tower, before the first shopping centre was built.
View of the Houndshill Blackpool site from the top of the Tower, before the first shopping centre was built.

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?

Terracotta frieze at the Houndshill Centre
Terracotta frieze at the Houndshill Centre

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.

Aerial view of town centre and the first Houndshill Blackpool centre
Aerial view of town centre and the first Houndshill Blackpool centre

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.

What's where on this aerial view of the first Houndshill Blackpool centre
What’s where on this aerial view of the first Houndshill Blackpool centre

Remember the old Houndshill in the Town Centre?

  1. Old buildings, later demolished to make way for the latest phase of development. Used as a temporary car park in 2020.
  2. Another temporary car park. The bottom corner of this block is now Debenhams. In 2020 the top right corner is New Look.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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?
  6. Coronation Rock – still there now.
  7. And to orientate you, this is McDonalds corner.
  8. 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,
  • Benetton,
  • 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.

Goldbergs

Brian Johnson now lives in Canada but still calls Blackpool home. He left a comment below about Goldbergs, and sent us this photo.

Goldbergs Department Store. Photo: Brian Johnson
Goldbergs Department Store. Photo: Brian Johnson

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.

Site Redevelopment

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.

Debenhams - anchor store at Houndshill Blackpool
Debenhams – anchor store at Houndshill Blackpool

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.

Clearing Land

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.

Demolishing buildings between the Houndshill and Winter Gardens
Demolishing buildings between the Houndshill and Winter Gardens

Recent Improvements

The upstairs food court was completely refurbished in 2015. The food retailers all closed while work was carried out.

Refurbishment of the food court in the Houndshill Shopping Centre
Refurbishment of the food court in the Houndshill Shopping Centre

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.

Temporary car park at the rear of the site, opposite the Winter Gardens
Temporary car park at the rear of the site, opposite the Winter Gardens

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.

2016 Planning application drawing for redevelopment of waste land at Houndshill Blackpool
2016 Planning application drawing for redevelopment of waste land at Houndshill Blackpool
2019 Artists Impression of the redevelopment of the Houndshill Blackpool site
2019 Artists Impression of the redevelopment of the Houndshill Blackpool site

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…

Houndshill Shopping Centre
Houndshill Shopping Centre

While you’re here…

Go to the homepage of the Live Blackpool website for the latest updates.

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12 thoughts on “Houndshill Blackpool – how the Site’s Changed”

  1. I worked at Goldbergs Dept store which was the biggest store in the Hounds Hill building at that time 1979.
    It was a beautiful very elegant store mirrored walls and grand wide staircases escalators even a grand piano.
    It housed such departments such as Wrygges for young women’s fashions and The Garage for men’s fashions plus many more inc shoes accessories and a cafe inside on the first floor on the balconies upstairs.
    Mirrored ceilings and amazing window displays with full size horse carriages and the latest fashions.
    We were all young the staff and we would go out to nightclubs every night then roll in for work the next day I was 18 straight out of college my first job and it was a blast!
    I met my wife who also worked there from Canada (Susie)and we ended up emigrating to Canada.
    I still have life long friends from my time there. There were many in store scandals it was like a carry on film of who was fooling around with who.
    I remember going out to Sands Barron’s nightclubs and the DJ would announce the gang from Goldbergs is here lol
    Staff Christmas party’s at the Imperial on the Prom.
    My wife went into work at Next also in the Hounds Hill after Goldbergs which was another huge name in Blackpool with three stores!
    Great times in Blackpool 79/89 when the town was booming.

  2. I may be mis-remembering something – we’re going back to a holiday in around 1985 when I was quite young.

    There was, and I was wondering if it was this place, some sort of food hall or restaurant that was designed to look like the windows of the top of Blackpool Tower but looked out, I thought into a mall?

    There doesn’t appear to be any reference to a faux tower style eating establishment anywhere, so I’m starting to wonder if it was a dream rather than a memory from that holiday!

  3. martyn woodcock

    I worked for Norweb in the old Houndshill, below what was the Liberal Club (still there). The Liberal club was then a night club which was quite popular, which had an unfortunate result for the Norweb shop below. The toilets in the night club frequently became blocked and overflowed through the floor and down through into the premises below.At the time Norweb was selling electric showers and had one fitted above a half bath display. Luckily the display was mobile, so we positioned it below where the water came through the ceiling and saved the carpets from too much damage !! Every Monday morning we had to clean up.

  4. BERYL FLETCHER

    Seeing all these changes brings back memories of when my husband and I first started dating. I used to get the coach from Liverpool to Blackpool on a Saturday. We would then have a walk around the town and I remember some of the old buildings that you have posted on this site. That was back in 1967 when it always seemed to be busy. After we married we moved to New Zealand and have only been back to see Blackpool a few times but it’s great having this site to see things as they are now. Our children have been there but we can now show our grandchildren what we saw growing up. Keep up the great work.

  5. Steven Mulrooney

    You have completely forgotten the Fylde Water Board building on Sefton Street where I worked in the Treasurer’s Office from 1964 to 1967. It was a lovely old building with a sweeping staircase. The front office was where you could go to pay your water rates.

  6. Used to play with the Blackpool Sea Cadets band in the foyer where the doorway into the shopping Center had its doors further in by the Disney shop. That foyer was all open, and the band marched in from a little doorway which held, or still holds the old name of the street, which had stairway up to the car park levels above. Great days, lovely noise….

  7. I remember going on my first proper date with a lad called Mark.C in the Houndshill.
    We went to the gelataria that was in Binn’s (now Primark I think) and had knickerbocker glories with peach and grape ice- cream!
    Would have been about 1982/3

  8. I worked in the Early Learning Centre from 1986-2008. I have seen many changes to the Hounds Hill. ELC was just round the corner from John Nelsons shoe shop. Facing steps going down into a big space in the floor I remember it being filled in with concrete. ELC moved to a new shop unit round the corner next to Beatties. I retired in 2008 the day Debenhams opened. The Hounds Hill’s changed dramatically since.

  9. We always went to Blackpool for our holidays. When I was 15 years old I worked for stylo shoes for about a year with my auntie who was manageress at the time. The one on the corner of the Lewis’s building on the promenade. We worked late nights at the weekend and on a Friday we always went to the Tudor bingo. The roads were grid locked and people everywhere, it was great though, I always remember that time with fondness. It was around 1970.

    1. I worked at stylo shoes on Abingdon Street Blackpool in the 70s corner of Deansgate worked for Connie who was the manager her husband Bob was the area manager

  10. I’m so happy with this site. It’s informative with past , present and future. Interesting and with a hint of humour.

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