19 Sep: Let’s Illuminate Blackpool

Powered by steam engines, and positioned on 60ft poles along the seafront, the Blackpool illuminations were first shown to adoring public on 19th September, 1879.

70,000 people came to see eight arc lamps, positioned 320 yards apart. Between them they provided illumination equal to 48,000 candles: an incredible spectacle considering it would still be another year before Thomas Edison patented the modern commercial lightbulb. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly recall some of the weirder celebrities who have been roped into performing the iconic switching-on ceremony in the Lancashire town; reveal the connection between the Walt Disney Company and this Northern institution; and explain how the resort initially developed its three piers to segregate the middle-classes from the ‘Kiss Me Quick’ day-trippers… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Blackpool Illuminations celebrates its centenary’ (The Guardian, 2012): https://www.theguardian.com/travel/gallery/2012/aug/31/blackpool-illuminations-centenary-100-years-lights

• ‘Cities of Light: Two Centuries of Urban Illumination – Eds. Dietrich Neumann, Margaret Maile Petty, Sandy Isenstadt’ (Taylor & Francis, 2014):


• ‘Vintage Blackpool Illuminations’ (AshBlackpoolFan, 2020):