Stanley Park 2019, photo: Elizabeth Gomm

Stanley Park – Best in UK

Beautifully maintained, with lots of facilities, public events and an active Friends Group, Stanley Park is a green space for everyone to enjoy. Above photo: Elizabeth Gomm

About Stanley Park

This is Blackpool’s best known park, just over a mile away from Blackpool Tower and the promenade. Enjoyed every day by local people and visitors, and has been since it opened in 1926.

It’s about 1.5 miles inland from Blackpool seafront. Find it near to Blackpool Zoo and the Victoria Hospital in the Layton/Marton area of town. Also the largest park in town, the perimeter is a length of 2.2 miles (3.54 km). Stanley Park covers an area of 256 acres (104 ha).

The address for Stanley Park is West Park Drive, Blackpool, FY3 9HU

Google map showing location of Stanley Park
Google map showing location of Stanley Park
  • There are toilet facilities next to the car park.
  • Free parking
  • Many areas of the park are suitable for disabled visitors.
  • Dogs are welcome – but please keep them on a lead at all times.

Look Around – Stanley Parks Main Features

A beautifully designed park, it’s always neat and well kept through the year. It’s really a beautiful gem where neat gardens and natural wildlife areas sit side by side in the busy, bustling town of Blackpool. There’s really something for everyone!

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Visitor Centre and Cafe

Enter the park through the main gates, travelling along Mawson Drive. Arrive first at the Visitor Centre, first opened on 24 August 2005 by the 19th Earl of Derby.

Next to the Visitor Centre is the art deco cafe. Rose beds and ornamental gardens surround both buildings.

The art deco cafe is worth a visit in its own right. The beautiful period building has been restored to all its original glory.

Cafe and visitor centre at Blackpool Stanley Park
Cafe and visitor centre (left, behind the trees) at Blackpool Stanley Park

The Visitor Centre is where you’ll find the Friends of Stanley Park. Their help makes an amazing difference as they raise money towards its upkeep, and organise the free events on the bandstand each summer.

Free Events and concerts each weekend at Blackpool Stanley Park Bandstand
Free Events and concerts each weekend at Blackpool Stanley Park Bandstand

Clock Tower and Italian Garden

Stanley Park radiates from the circular Italian Garden at the centre. At the very centre of the Italian Garden is an impressive fountain, surrounded by flower beds.

The Clock Tower, a memorial to Blackpool’s first Mayor, Dr William Cocker, is to the south of the central fountain. It’s sometimes open during special events like Heritage Open Days, for you to climb to the top and enjoy the view.

Blackpool Stanley Park, Italian Gardens, fountain and clock tower
Blackpool Stanley Park, Italian Gardens, fountain and clock tower

Steps down to the garden are guarded over by two replica Medici lions.

Blackpool Stanley Park Medici lions
Blackpool Stanley Park Medici lions

Boating Lake at Stanley Park

At the eastern side of the park is the large boating lake (beyond it the Zoo is across the road). In designated areas you can enjoy boating and fishing. Charges and memberships for fishing are available from/payable at the boathouse.

Boating Lake at Blackpool Stanley Park
Boating Lake at Blackpool Stanley Park

The lake is home to large numbers of water birds, ducks, geese and swans – especially since they  have their own island in the centre. If you love to feed the birds, please don’t take bread for them. It’s the avian equivalent of junk food. No good for the pond water and can also attract vermin and spread disease. Instead, take along frozen peas or corn, lettuce, grapes or chopped green veg, oats, rice (raw or cooked) or bird corn/seed.

Canada geese at the Boating Lake at Blackpool Stanley Park
Canada geese at the Boating Lake at Blackpool Stanley Park

The trees are also home to a large heronry – with big floppy nests built high in the trees by these magnificent birds. Watch out if you live nearby and you’ve got a fish pond. You can bet that they’ll come to visit your garden – and steal your fish!

Did you know? Famous escapologist Karl Bartoni began his career by escaping from the towns former lifeboat on Stanley Park lake.

Statuary

As you walk around Stanley Park you’ll see a number of pieces of statuary and various plaques.

One of them is this statue, unveiled on Wednesday 22 May 2019. It’s in memory of Blackpool resident, Jane Tweddle who lost her life during the Manchester terrorist attack.

To mark the two year anniversary Jane’s family and friends held a private ceremony. The inscription reads “We love you to the moon and miss you beyond the stars.” Jane’s daughters Harriet, Lily, Isabelle Taylor worked with the council officers to design the memorial and agree its location.

Manchester Memorial at Stanley Park
Manchester Memorial at Stanley Park

Harriet, Lily and Isabelle, said: “To finally have something so special for mum and to have it at Stanley Park, where she spent a lot of time with her friends at the bandstand and taking our dog Marley on walks, means the world. The one thing that everyone seems to think of when they think of mum is lilies, so it just seemed like the perfect design. We couldn’t have done any of this without the help of the Blackpool Council, especially John Blackledge and Anne Powell who have been so helpful in making something so beautiful for mum.”

Jane was a local resident and worked at South Shore Academy. Stanley Park is a special place for so many people and it’s fitting that this memorial is located in a quiet place in the memorial garden. There, Jane’s friends, colleagues and family can come to pay their respects. Find the memorial garden just off Cocker Walk between the Clock Tower and the Italian Gardens.

Sports Facilities at Stanley Park

Stanley Park is a lovely park to enjoy, with plenty of things to see and do do. The sports facilities are very good too.

Map of Blackpool Stanley Park and Gardens
Map of Blackpool Stanley Park and Gardens

The Park has a long sporting history and offers the best facilities in town including

  • bowling greens,
  • tennis courts,
  • trampolines,
  • skateboarding and BMX,
  • pitch and putt,
  • trim trail,
  • bowling,
  • basketball,
  • football and rugby,
  • play facilities for children of all ages.

Famous architects Harry Shapland Holt and Dr Alastair Mackenzie designed the 18 hole Stanley Park Golf Course.

The western side of Stanley Park is where you’ll find the 5000-seater cricket ground, home to Blackpool Cricket Club. Lancashire CCC also regularly play county cricket there.

Stanley Park Sports Arena hosts a number of athletics competitions. That, and Blackpool Sports Centre (with three halls, gym and climbing wall) are to the south of the cricket ground. This area also contains a putting green, table tennis tables and a conservatory.

Did you know? That Blackpool F.C. had its home at the athletic grounds on the same site between 1897 and 1899. That was before they moved to their well known home on Bloomfield Road.

The southern side of Stanley Park is dominated by playing fields. It’s also where you’ll find a children’s play area and Blackpool Model Village. It’s enclosed within the park perimeter, but The Model Village does have its own entrance.

Tennis courts, astro-Turf pitches and a skateboard park are also in the southern part of the park.

Stanley Park Nature Trail

Stanley Park Nature Trail is a circular walk from the Visitor Centre round the edge of the boating lake through the dedicated conservation area. Follow the markers from A-J on the green dotted route on the above map.

Lakes, meadows, grassland, scrub and woodland can be found in the heart of the park. You can enjoy all kinds of wildlife, all year round.

But be careful – the trail path runs very close to deep water in places, so please also keep an eye on children and dogs. Swimming or ice skating is forbidden. There is a danger of drowning. Dogs are welcome. But they must be kept on a lead at all times. And don’t let them chase the birds.

  • Enjoy Stanley Park Nature Trail during park opening hours, between dawn and dusk each day.

At a leisurely pace it will take you about an hour. Leave the Visitor Centre, turn left past the cafe and head down the path to the lake with the boathouse on your left hand side.

Organised group and school visits are welcome throughout the year. The Friends of Stanley Park and the Parks Department can organise heritage and environmental activities for all ages and abilities. Please contact the Visitor Centre for more information and to book. Tel 01253 699470 – and please mention that you saw it on Visit Fylde Coast!

See squirrels on the Stanley Park Nature Trail
See squirrels on the Stanley Park Nature Trail

Follow the Stanley Park Nature Trail

Marker A: The start of your route where the park becomes more natural and the lake is on your right. You’ll see huge numbers of water birds here throughout the year. Many of them live on the islands in the lake including Moor Hens, Mallard Ducks, Coots, Mute Swans and the Great Crested Grebe. Canada Geese and Greylag Geese graze on the grasslands around the lake.

Marker B: You’re now on the edge of the woodland area which runs round the east side of the lake. Follow the left fork of the footpath to see native tree species. Cherry and Silver Birch grow around here, with it’s aptly named pale grey bark.

There are lots of Common Oak trees, did you know they can live up to 1000 years? Oak trees support more wildlife than any other tree with over 300 species of birds, mammals and creatures depending on them for food and shelter.

Continue down the footpath to cross a small bridge over a ditch – which attracts lots of different dragonflies such as the brightly coloured Emperor.

Explore the Woodland

Marker C: Going deeper into the woodland you’ll notice typical British birds like Blackbirds, Chaffinch, Song Thrushes and Wood Pigeons. If you’re lucky you might see a Great Spotted Woodpecker. They climb the tree trunks, tapping them as they look for food.

Marker D: Visiting this area at dawn or dusk you might see foxes, stoats, weasels or wood mice. Grey squirrels are the most common mammal in the park.

You’ll also see bat boxes fastened to trees in this area of the woodland. In the early evening you may see Pipistrelle bats leaving these boxes to hunt for food.

And the Lake

Marker E: Look from here towards the north of Stanley Park Lake to see a wooded island with a large colony of Grey Herons, called a Heronry.

The Heron is a large, beautiful bird with long yellow legs and a long beak. They build their big nests high in the trees. They can be up to 3 feet across – the ones which are occupied have droppings on the ground underneath. The same birds use the same nest each year. Unless it’s blown down by high winds!

You’ll also see lots of Black Headed Gulls, who like to perch on the old fence across the lake in front of the island.

Marker F: Keep an eye out for butterflies, they feed and lay eggs in the long grass, nettles, shrubs and trees. Between March and September you might find Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Speckled Wood and Red Admiral.

You might also see dragonflies around the edge of the water, including Brown Common Hawker, Migrant Hawker and Emperor.

Looking for Wildflowers

Marker G: Along this path you’ll see lots of wildflowers including Cow Parsley, Red Campion, Hedge Garlic, Cleavers, Meadow Buttercup and Honesty. Bluebells grow here in Spring.

Marker H:  The viewing platform near the gate gives you a chance to see the birds on the lake from close quarters. Many of them are tame and will come and visit you on the chance of a snack!

Marker I: The ornamental bridges are some of Stanley Parks many attractive features. They give you a fantastic view of both sides of the lake and the woodland areas. Turn left off the bridge and walk to marker I for a panoramic view of the lake and bandstand.

Marker J: Created by volunteers, the picnic area is somewhere for you to sit and enjoy the view. The Hawthorn shrubs in this spot attract lots of insects and birds so you should be able to see lots of them close up.

Friends and Events at Stanley Park

The Friends of Stanley Park is a well established group of volunteers. They carry out their activities from their base at the Visitor Centre.

Fundraising and gardening are just two of their many important roles. Volunteers work with Blackpool Council to do all kinds of additional things in the park. Why don’t you join in?

Stanley Park – Voted Best in UK

WOW, well done to everyone who voted, uses and looks after Blackpool Stanley Park. It often wins awards, in all kinds of competitions. There’s no wonder – it’s Blackpool’s flagship park, loved by everyone.

Best UK Park, 2019

Our very own Stanley Park was crowned the BEST UK PARK in 2019. The winner is decided by public vote, in the competition run by the charity Fields in Trust.

Not only is it voted England’s Best Park 2019, it also takes the title of the North West’s most loved park. In 2017, it also won the Best Park in the UK. Stanley Park is known as the jewel in Blackpool’s crown – and it truly is. With a variety of attractions including a wonderful café, scenic walks, beautiful gardens and sporting activities.

The regional winners were Antrim Castle Gardens in Northern Ireland, Cyfarthfa Park in Wales and Pittencrieff Park in Scotland.

Stanley Park in 2019. Photo by Elizabeth Gomm
Stanley Park in 2019. Photo by Elizabeth Gomm

Well done to everyone

It takes a lot of hard work and effort to keep our jewel polished. Well done to all the staff, gardeners and volunteers who do such a brilliant job. Local people and visitors from all over the UK and the world hold our park in their affections. It brings so much pleasure to so many.

Dedicated Blackpool Council staff, along with partners such as the Friends of Stanley Park and volunteer groups, work hard through all seasons to keep the park’s standards high.

In the nomination for the competition the park was described as a “beautiful, tranquil place away from the hustle and bustle of the Blackpool seafront… with great volunteers and staff”.

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Left to right: Awards host, TV sports broadcaster Jacqui Oatley MBE; Diane Farley, Parks Operational Manager at Blackpool Council; Elaine Smith MBE, Friends of Stanley Park and Brynmor Williams, former Welsh Rugby International and Fields in Trust Trustee.

Hire Stanley Park for your event

Stanley Park is a sensational events destination and often hosts music festivals, concerts, sporting events, corporate conferences, art fairs and numerous individual meetings and company events.

A number of the individual locations and indoor venues are suitable and available for hire including:
– Visitor centre
– Sports centre
– Bandstand
– Open fields
– Gardens
– Sports pitches

Reservations – To make an enquiry about hiring park space along with details on hire costs please contact the Parks and Open Spaces Service directly.

Ring 01253 478358 or email parks@blackpool.gov.uk Please mention that you saw it on Visit Fylde Coast!

How Stanley Park Began

In 1921 the former Mayor of Blackpool and Member of Parliament Sir Albert Lindsay Parkinson acquired an area of land. His intention was to develop it into a park for Blackpool with the help of the town council.

Stanley Park Blackpool, 1927
Stanley Park postcard, posted 1927

The council later took over the land and the project, going on to develop more buildings and acquire more land. Distinguished landscape architects of the time, TH Mawson and Sons, had the job of designing the park – and a good job they made of it too! The ‘son’, Edward Mawson handled most of the work as his father’s health failed.

The park’s golf course was designed by the famous partnership of Harry Colt and Dr Alister MacKenzie. They also created the nearby Blackpool North Shore and Royal Lytham and St. Annes courses.

Finished and Declared Open

On 2 October 1926 the park was declared open by the 17th Earl of Derby, Sir George Edward Villiers Stanley.

Earl of Derby attending the opening of the park
Earl of Derby attending the opening of Stanley Park

It’s named in honour of his father, the former Governor General of Canada, Frederick Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby KG, GCB, GCVO, PC. From 1885 to 1886 he was the first MP for the newly created Blackpool Parliamentary Constituency. For 20 years before that he had also been one of the MPs for the larger constituency of which Blackpool was then a part.

Postcard of Italian Gardens in Stanley Park, not posted
Postcard of Italian Gardens in Stanley Park, not posted

View from the Italian Garden in Stanley Park, posted 1928
View from the Italian Garden in Stanley Park, posted 1928

Postcard of Stanley Park Bandstand, posted 1946
Postcard of Stanley Park Bandstand, posted 1946

Italian Gardens Stanley Park, Blackpool, Posted 1949
Italian Gardens Stanley Park, Blackpool. Posted 1949

Stanley Park is a historically important garden. It’s been listed with Grade II status, on the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens, since 1995.

Despite its age, the park was still the most recent park development in Blackpool until 2006. George Bancroft Park was the last new one to be created. It’s where the climbing towers are, on the approach into Blackpool near to the Football Club.

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Golden start for Stanley Park’s 90th summer

Stanley Park’s ornate main gates on West Park Drive were returned to their former glory to celebrate the 90th year. The intricate decorative features were repainted in gold.

Stanley Park Gates

The impressive gates were first opened by the 17th Earl of Derby on October 2, 1926 with a golden key used in the lock.

The Mayor Thomas Bickerstaff and 80 other Mayors and Mayoresses joined local and national dignitaries to mark the occasion.

Elaine Smith, was Chairperson of the Friends of Stanley Park at the time, which funded the project. She said: “We continually strive to raise funds through events and activities in Stanley Park to generate much needed funds to support the Parks Department in the maintenance of our Grade 2 Heritage Park.”

Stanley Park celebrates its 90th summer!

The official opening of 1926 was celebrated in a recreation on Saturday 8 July 2017.

Edward Stanley, the 19th Earl of Derby unlocked the ornate main gates on West Park Drive, wearing morning coat and using a golden key – just as his grandfather did 90 years earlier.

Earl Derby Edward Stanley

Among the specially invited guests was 95-year-old Edith Wilkinson who attended the first ceremony 90 summers ago. Edith remembers that she and her brother Fred had their photograph taken with the 17th Earl of Derby, who originally opened the park.

Joan Humble and Jean Sanderson from Blackpool Civic Trust with Edith Wilkinson who is also a member of Blackpool Civic Trust. Edith was 5yrs old when she attended the original opening of the park over 90years ago. She also still attends meetings of Blackpool Civic Trust.

(Above) Joan Humble and Jean Sanderson from Blackpool Civic Trust with Edith Wilkinson who is also a member of Blackpool Civic Trust. Edith was 5yrs old when she attended the original opening of the park over 90 years ago. She also still attends meetings of Blackpool Civic Trust.

Lord Derby opening the gates at Stanley Park in 1926
Lord Derby opening the gates at Stanley Park in 1926

Lord Derby opening Stanley Park with the Golden Key in 1926

Schools from across the town, dressed to represent different decades, joined the Earl at the event. After speeches from the Earl and The Mayor of Blackpool on the café terrace steps, the official party progressed up Mawson Drive.

Lord Derby and Elaine Smith leading the parade

A Great Day out for Everyone

The children then performed songs and dances at the bandstand. Park goers joined traditional games such as croquet, hopscotch, hula hoop as well as bounce on space hoppers.

View of Stanley Park from Cocker Clock Tower
View of Stanley Park from Cocker Clock Tower

Throughout the park, you’d see staff, volunteers, dignitaries and children, dressed in period costumes. Ladies were taking a walk in 1920s dresses, newspaper boys in caps, gentleman in blazers, boaters, top hat and tails. School children appeared as Blackpool’s 1953 FA Cup winning football team, cheered on by their supporters.

Construction of Blackpool Stanley Park
Construction of Blackpool Stanley Park

Bev Carroll a Friend of Stanley Park, created a new audio-visual recording. With a mix of voiceovers and images it captures people’s experiences of the park over the years.

It even preserved the memories of those who were at the original opening in the twenties. Including 95-year-old Edith Wilkinson and 101-year-old William ‘Arnold’ Darbyshire. They’d both seen the park being constructed.

While you’re here…

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