Blackpool is a major seaside town and borough of Lancashire, North West England. The town is a unitary authority area, noted for its political autonomy, independent of Lancashire County Council. It is situated along England’s northwest coast located by the Irish Sea, between the Ribble and Wyre estuaries about 27 miles north of Liverpool and 40 miles Northwest of Manchester. It has an estimated population of 143,000 and a population density that makes it the fourth most densely populated borough of England and Wales outside Greater London.
Throughout the Middle Ages and Early Modern period, Blackpool was a coastal hamlet in Lancashire’s Hundred of Amounderness, and remained such until the mid-18th century when it became fashionable in England to travel to the coast during the summer to bathe in sea water to improve well-being. In 1781, visitors attracted to Blackpool’s 7-mile sandy beach were able to use a newly built private road, built by Thomas Clifton and Sir Henry Hoghton. Stagecoaches began running to Blackpool from Manchester in the same year, and from Halifax in 1782.
Blackpool rose to prominence as a major centre of tourism in England when a railway was built in the 1840s connecting it to the industrialised regions of Northern England. The railway made it much easier and cheaper for visitors to reach Blackpool, triggering an influx of settlers, such that in 1876 Blackpool was incorporated as a borough, governed by its own town council and aldermen. In 1881 Blackpool was a booming resort with a population of 14,000 and a promenade complete with piers, fortune-tellers, public houses, trams, donkey rides, fish-and-chip shops and theatres. By 1901 the population of Blackpool was 47,000and by 1951 it had grown to 147,000.
Shifts in tastes, combined with opportunities for Britons to travel overseas, affected Blackpool’s status as a leading resort during the late 20th century. Nevertheless, Blackpool’s urban fabric and economy remains relatively undiversified, and firmly rooted in the tourism sector, and the borough’s seafront continues to attract millions of visitors every year. In addition to its sandy beaches, Blackpool’s major attractions and landmarks include Blackpool Tower, Blackpool Illuminations, the Pleasure Beach, Blackpool Zoo, Sandcastle Water Park, the Winter Gardens, and the UK’s only surviving first-generation tramway.