In this page we’re taking a look around Blackpool North Shore at the Colonnades.
You might not have noticed them, hidden in plain sight at the seafront! Head north past North Pier and the Colonnades begin underneath the Metropole Hotel at Princess Parade.
Look around Blackpool Colonnades at North Shore
The first one to be built was the Princess Parade Colonnade of 1912 – underneath the Metropole Hotel. It’s where the Blackpool Illuminations were first displayed in honour of Princess Louise visit to open the new promenade.
Did you know? Extra air raid shelters were created during WW2 by bricking-in the colonnades at the Metropole. In one of these, on 25 July 1944, US Army Private Thomas Montoya murdered Joan Long from Bispham.
In total, the five curved bays of the colonnades cover almost 1km of seafront between the Metropole and Gynn Square. Built in 1924 to replace the previous grassy slope coastal defences here, built between 1895-99. They continue along Blackpool seafront, between the upper level of the main road and the lower level footpath against the beach.
Their aim was to ‘make a bold statement about promenading and Blackpool’s unrivalled assets’.
Watch this short film to find out some little known facts about this slightly hidden local landmark, including a grisly murder… Next time you visit Blackpool go and take a look!
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Protecting the Colonnades
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) listed ten features at Blackpool North Shore Grade II on 27 August 2021. This was on the advice of Historic England.
The ten items include eight of the promenade shelters and the two Colonnades at Middle and Lower Walk.
Charles Robinson designed them during his years as Chief Architectural Assistant to the Borough Surveyor. John later became the Borough Architect.
Built in reinforced concrete, The Colonnades cover about a kilometer of the seafront at North Shore. Lower Walk was built in 1923, Middle Walk between 1923-25, both providing covered spaces where people could promenade and enjoy the views. It was also a way of extending the upper promenade and create strengthened space for the tramway.
Eight shelters were already listed Grade II. The 2021 listing takes the total to 16. Commissioned by Blackpool Corporation, most of them were made between 1903 and 1904 by renowned Scottish foundries.
Walter MacFarlane and Co (MacFarlanes) in Glasgow and the Lion Foundry Company in Kirkintilloch made the majority of them, specially for the ‘new promenade’.
Interesting things about the Colonnades
- It’s a great viewing point for watching the World Firework Championships, fired from the beach at Tower Festival Headland. Make sure you’re at the right point on the curve of the coast!
- Above the Colonnades are some of Blackpool’s best seafront hotels. All ideally placed for tram and bus stops and most have on-site parking. The views are amazing – especially at sunset!
- Heading north beyond Gynn Square towards the boating pool and Cabin lift, the seafront rises at what’s known as ‘the cliffs’. The manmade cliff retains the land and although it’s a steep walk up the cliff path, the views are amazing.
- You might remember Derby Baths. Back in the day it was incredibly popular and used for many TV broadcasts. Now an empty field of grass, at the left of the Grand Hotel above the Colonnades.
Style and Substance
Thank you once again to Nick Moore’s History of Blackpool, which tells us –
“The Gynn entrance to these impressive colonnades was signalled by the presence of four massive pillars with urns, lids and finials. They made a bold statement about promenading and Blackpool’s unrivalled natural assets. The four pillars framed an entrance steps leading down to Lower Walks solitary, smaller colonnade. This entrance had its own smaller four pillars with finials. All four of the smaller pillars are extant, though they have lots their finials, while only two of the massive pillars survive; they too have lost their finials together with the urns.
“Each colonnade has twenty-four well proportioned Tuscan columns, the end columns being coupled with a pillar of different design. The same type of pillar is to be found integrated with the very substantial supporting structures flanking the colonnades. These tall structures have a Greek Key decorative border that echoes the colonnades Classical allusions.
“By 1925 the widening of the promenade had been completed, and this meant the tram tracks could be taken off the road and put onto their own reservation.”
While you’re here…
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