The Old Police Station and Courts at Bonny Street Blackpool are a big (and unattractive!) landmark on the skyline and earmarked for demolition

Old Police Station and Courts at Bonny Street

The Old Police Station and Courts at Bonny Street Blackpool are a big (and unattractive!) landmark on the skyline. Thankfully, the brutalist concrete architecture will eventually be demolished! It’s part of the site for the exciting plans for Blackpool Central!

Old Police Station and Courts at Bonny Street

The old police station is the tall multi-storey building which sits alongside Bonny Street. It’s a clear landmark opposite and facing the iconic Blackpool Tower. Next to it and wrapped around it are the old Court buildings and Chapel Street NCP car park.

Now closed, these public buildings are awaiting demolition. We don’t have any information yet as to when that might happen other than sometime around the end of 2024. However, in November 2023 a Government announcement allocated the final parcel of money to allow the new court building to go ahead. The £40m of Levelling Up funding towards the relocation of the courts facilitates future phases of the Blackpool Central leisure scheme.

We went for a look at the site of the old Courthouse and adjoining police station –

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Redeveloping this Land

This is a huge 17 acre site and a planned £300m+ leisure development. Understandably, redeveloping Blackpool Central is a phased project over a number of years. But it’s Blackpool’s biggest development for over a century and has been a long time coming!

The old police station and courts buildings currently occupy the bottom left corner of the current site plan (below). They’ll be some of the later phases of development. The areas marked in orange at the corner of Central Drive are next – to create an attractive Heritage Quarter. It’s really exciting – we can’t wait to see the regeneration unfold.

Blackpool Central masterplan
Blackpool Central Masterplan

History of the Old Police Station and Courts at Bonny Street

Blackpool’s motto is ‘Progress’ and the town has certainly done that over the decades! These two buildings are just one chapter in how things have developed and moved around in this seaside town.

The Old Police Station in the Past

Lancashire County Constabulary policed Blackpool from 22 February 1840 until 30 June 1887. Blackpool Borough Police Force was established on 1 July 1887 and they policed the area until 1 April 1969. That was when Lancashire Constabulary came into existence.

In 1853 work began on a small police station in Bonny Street for the town’s one policeman, Constable William Banks. Appointed in 1850 his new building at Bonny Street included a small lock-up prison. By 1857 a second constable joined Banks, Thomas Aston.

Now the site of Abingdon Street Market, Blackpool’s first proper central police station dates back to 1862. After it opened (in 1863) the earlier one on Bonny Street was converted into two houses. The Abingdon Street station had all the mod-cons – offices, a court and three dwellings. One for Sergeant Morrison and one for each of his constables. Cells in the basement still survive today. The station was enlarged in 1880 to accommodate the growing force of three sergeants and thirteen constables. By 1934 the force comprised 125 men.

Bonny Street Opens

The building at Bonny Street opened for use on 19 February 1971 – the third Blackpool police station and Divisional Headquarters. But this new building wasn’t officially opened until 21 April 1976, when the Duke of Gloucester did the honours. Nearby Richardson Street is named after murdered Superintendent Gerry Richardson. By 1967, Blackpool Corporation had cleared older streets in preparation for the build, such as Oddfellow Street, East Street and Cragg Street with its laundry. Their original plan was to build a new town hall there as well, but funds were short.

A structural survey in 2014 concluded that Bonny Street Police station was nearing the end of its lifespan. Also the custody suite at Bonny Street was dated and didn’t comply with modern Home Office standards. It would be impossible to satisfy in the current building without very expensive reconfiguration.

Construction work started on the new site at Marton in December 2016 and it opened to the public on 23 July 2018. The new police station headquarters is close to the M55, providing a base for some of the local policing and immediate response teams. It also houses a public enquiry desk, investigations hub and 42 custody cells. Plus a range of specialist teams, serving the whole of the division.

The Old Courts in Blackpool

There was also a Blackpool Police Court at Abingdon Street, in the same building as the police station. Opened on 5 March 1886 and known as the Sessions House it held its first session on 19 May 1886. The Courts moved to Bonny Street on completion of the new building, at the same time as the Police Station opened.

Now, Blackpool Magistrates’ Court complex has closed earlier than scheduled following the discovery of unsafe concrete. After the discovery of RAAC (Reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete) it closed temporarily on 1 November 2023.

The new £40m Court development at Devonshire Road is scheduled for completion in 2026. So there’s only a couple of years of use left for the old courts at Chapel Street. Therefore, the building has been deemed too costly to repair, for the minimal return on the considerable investment.

In the meantime, criminal cases will be heard elsewhere. At Preston and Lancaster magistrates’ courts, with civil and family cases at Fleetwood.

While you’re here…

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1 thought on “Old Police Station and Courts at Bonny Street”

  1. I think it is a shame that this local landmark can’t be incorporated into the re-generation plans. Whilst clearly not to everyone’s taste, it is certainly a distinctive building; Yes, certainly in need of TLC, but surely not beyond redemption given its strong concrete structure (many climate reasons to preserve and reuse concrete structures).
    The Preston Bus Station once faced the same fate, but was ultimately restored and is now fantastic. Almost all of the ‘brutalist’ buildings have been removed from Blackpool and the demolition of Bonny Street station will leave a void hole in the local architectural history

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