Underground Boat Store at Little Bispham

Underground Boat Store at Little Bispham

Underneath the new sea defences at Anchorsholme, was once an underground boat store.

It was originally built as a car park, then used as a boat store, and is now filled in underneath the new promenade.

You might remember a pair of curved walls which ran alongside the curve of the highway just after the tramway at Princes Prom. It was between the Victorian tram stop and public toilets building at Little Bispham and the seawall, to the right of the lookout spot.

Underground boat store at Little Bispham

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The single lane driveway between the walls led you to a pair of solid doors – and without a key you could get no further. 

With a key – through those doors was a vast, cavernous space – before it was filled in to stabilise the sea wall as part of the sea defence works.

Underground Car Park at Little Bispham

It was originally built in 1935 as an underground car park with space for 90 cars. However, it was prone to flooding soon after it was built.

The car park had fallen quickly into disuse and been abandoned by Blackpool Town Council because it flooded easily at high tide, causing damage to vehicles which were parked there. 

Dave Hutchinson shared this photo (below) looking south along the promenade. You can see the two curved walls against the road leading to the entrance to the car park.

Underground car park at Anchorsholme

David Wall added: “There certainly was no shortage of parking in the 1930’s as very few people owned cars. It was built at the same time as Princes Way was constructed, following the coast to Cleveleys.

“My theory is because there were two large Hydros then, each with their own golf course and tennis courts, there may have been plans to develop an upmarket alternative to Central Blackpool at that end of town. The underground car park and new coastal road made a statement. However along came WW2 and that’s as far as it got.

“After the war the concentration was on residential housing and the golf courses were sold for building land and that was it.

“The underground car park was used for a few years after the war but flooding was a real issue and it closed.”

Thank you to both Dave’s for their information – can you add anything else? 

Dave Hutchinson posted this newspaper snippet (below) from May 1948, talking about an expected ‘invasion’ of motorists when petrol was once again available. 

Newspaper cutting from May 1948

It includes a little known fact, that it was used during the war as a secret storage place by aircraft manufacturer Vickers Armstrong. 

Underground Boat & Tractor Store

The Fylde Boat Angling Club formed in 1971 and started using the derelict car park soon afterwards as an underground boat store. 

They have around 60 boats registered and upwards of 200 members.

Entrance to underground boat store at Anchorsholme

The entrance to the underground space (above and below)

Entrance to the underground boat store at Anchorsholme

Entrance to the underground boat store, seen from inside (below)

Entrance to the unfderground boat store, seen from inside

Inside was a dank, dark space. It was quite huge in size, with bays on either side where some of the club fishing boats were stored by their owners. Laterly it was used mostly as a storage space for the tractors which they used to take the boats to the water. 

Have a look around in this video, taken during the Open Day

Underground boat store at Anchorsholme

Underground boat store at Anchorsholme

Underground boat store at Anchorsholme

Underground boat store at Anchorsholme

Underground boat store at Anchorsholme

The car park was originally built with access to the promenade at either end of it.

Before the promenade was rebuilt, you could still see the remains of the second entrance roadway. It was near to and behind the old concrete bench on the promenade before it was all rebuilt.

Former second entrance to underground car park at Anchorsholme

A gap in the kerbstones between the highway and promenade revealed the curve of the former second access road which was filled in four decades ago.

At one time there were also glass skylights in the floor of the promenade which let light into the car park You could actually see the marks of where they once were in the old prom.

Where glass skylights were above the underground car park

At the time of the infamous storms of 1977, the boat store flooded with all the boats inside. The flood water lifted them up and crushed them against the roof of the space. 

The skylights in the promenade were broken to try and get the boats out, and it was after this event that the second driveway was filled in.

This was the bricked up end of the driveway seen from inside, which once opened out onto the promenade.

Bricked up back door of the former underground car park at Anchorsholme

Boat Store Open Day

Saturday 1 November 2014

There’s a lot of local interest in the history around us. So here at Live Blackpool we suggested that the Fylde Boast Angling Club might like to hold an open day for people to have one last look. 

We promoted the event for them and popped along at about 10.45am to discover that our efforts had been a big success.

Fylde Boat Angling Club Open Day

Visitors were asked to sign in and when we got there the double column of names had already spilled over the second A4 sheet of paper.

586 visitors signed in during the course of the day, raising over £250 for the Club funds. The money was used for upkeep and maintenance of the nearby Clubhouse, which needs constant attention.

Tiny toddlers were enjoying making noises that echoed, and lots of adults were enjoying being able to see something which they normally couldn’t see – before it was lost forever.

Fylde Boat Angling Club Open Day

Instructions painted on the wall!

The Underground Boat Store is Filled In 

Heading for 90 years old, in this underground world you could see signs of the concrete getting to the end of its life.

The boat store was filled in as part of the sea defence works at Anchorsholme, to remove any future chance of potential failure of the sea wall following the £22m project to build a new one. 

Underground boat store at Little Bispham, filled in as part of Anchorsholme sea defence works

Underground boat store at Little Bispham, filled in as part of Anchorsholme sea defence works

Demolition of boat store, prior to backfilling the hole
Demoltion of the boat store from above, prior to backfilling the hole

Little Bispham Promenade now

A new tractor store has been constructed nearby, adjacent to the clubhouse.

More about the new Promenade at Anchorsholme following the construction of the new seawall.

There’s history all around us if you just look for it.

Have you got anything to add to the story of this local landmark?

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Find out More

More about the new Promenade at Anchorsholme

More about Fylde Boat Angling Club

Fylde Boat Angling Club clubhouse

Underground Boat Store at Anchorsholme

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