If you’re a regular visitor you’re sure to have walked Victoria Street in Blackpool Town Centre many times! It’s bang in the centre of the town, joining the seafront to the Winter Gardens. Take a look at the street today – and find out some interesting things from its past! We went to take a look in October 2022 –
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Where is it?
At the Promenade, there’s The Blackpool Tower building at one side and the old Woolworths/Poundland building at the other. Heading inland, Victoria Street crosses Bank Hey Street and continues past the side entrances to Houndshill Shopping Centre. Here’s a map showing its location. Click on it to explore.
Corporation Street, leading to the Grand Theatre, heads off opposite the Body Shop, but other than that, it’s a pedestrianised space. You’ll often hear buskers playing and there’s plenty of space to sit awhile. Park yourself for a minute on one of the benches around the junction with Bank Hey Street, or sunbathe near the back door of M&S!
Victoria Street continues (up a rare Fylde Coast ‘hill’!) to meet Coronation Street, and the distinctive entrance to the Winter Gardens. You can’t miss it!
This is just one of many areas which Blackpool BID looks after. They work to improve the visitor experience and to promote Blackpool Town Centre as a safe, clean place to do business, work, visit, shop and dine. Find out more about Blackpool BID here.
New Plans for Victoria Street in Blackpool Town Centre
Numbers 18-22 Victoria Street were previously Top Shop and Top Man stores. Once part of the multinational Arcadia Group, controlled by Sir Philip Green, they both closed when the chain went into administration in 2020.
Between July ’21 and June ’22, the large double unit had a good use as a temporary home for market traders. They’d had to move out of Abingdon Street Market to enable it’s redevelopment. Blackpool Council subsidised the lease on Victoria Street until June 2022 when they finally had to move on.
If successful, new plans will see this site take a slightly new direction. The London base owner, Issam Chehab, hopes to make the ground floor into a Tesco Express with holiday flats above. Eight two bedroom holiday flats will be available, by using the existing upper floor and adding a second floor by means of a roof lift. The second floor flats will also have a balcony.
We went to take a look before anything happened –
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The seaward end of Victoria Street in Blackpool Town Centre was first laid out in 1828 as Green Walk. Before long it was renamed Victoria Terrace, then Victoria Street. What we now know as Birley Street was originally another grass walk from the seafront, laid out at the same time.
In 1849 the Victoria Congregational Chapel opened in Victoria Street at the upper end of Green Walk. Opened on 13 September, it could seat 700 people. The last service in the original church was held on 26 March 1964. After moving to the Methodist Mission on Newton Drive, the old building was demolished. And now the Houndshill Shopping Centre covers the site.
In 1850 there was an ornamental flagstaff at the bottom of Victoria Street, enclosed with a circle of railings. Have you ever noticed the name of the street, laid into the paving at the junction with Bank Hey Street? Take a look at the floor, next time you pass…
Bank Hey House
William Henry Cocker bought Bank Hey House at the top of Victoria Street in 1851. Fondly known as the ‘Father of Blackpool’ part of his house still stand inside the Winter Gardens. Did you know you can still see some parts of the external structure through the skylight at the lower end of the Floral Hall? He’d offered Bank Hey and it’s adjoining land for the building of the Winter Gardens in 1875. The aim of the complex was to draw holiday makers away from the promenade and spread wealth around the growing town.
In 1875 the porch of Bank Hey House was removed to build a grand vestibule entrance for the growing venue. Then in 1896 a large glass and steel arched structure was added over the new Victoria Street entrance. Development of the site continues to this day, most recently with the opening of the new Conference Centre.
Pubs, Offices and Shopping Centres
The site of the proposed new Tesco Express has an interesting past. In the 1870’s the Victoria Inn, or The Little Vic as it was known, was built on this plot of land. The first Victoria Inn, closed and demolished in 1931, was built for William Henry Cocker. But owners C&S Brewery built a new pub on the same site.
The Little Vic Spanish Tavern opened on 16 December 1933 with a facade of Spanish Colonial and Art Deco styles, designed by JC Derham. Here’s another famous name, Andrew Mazzei designed the Spanish theme interior. The Little Vic fell victim to the wrecking ball when it was demolished in 1989. Then along came Top Shop, opened in 1980 by TV star Lewis Collins.
The new Blackpool Gazette offices opened in Victoria Street in 1934. Reporters worked there until the demolition of the offices and printing works in August 1987.
1976 saw many of the buildings between Victoria Street, Adelaide Street and Coronation Street demolished to make way for the planned, new Houndshill Shopping Centre. This area had been a warren of small gift shops, cafes and fashion shops.
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