|From Lamp to
Laser: The Story of the Blackpool Illuminations
Below is an extract from the Introduction.
The population of the town
quickly grew, with more people than ever coming to live and to work
there, as Blackpool actively sought to expand its boundaries. The ebb
and flow of residents was staggering, which, added to the huge numbers
of holidaymakers, almost caused the town to burst at the seams. Those
crowds were even bigger than usual due to the proposed introduction of
electric street lighting on the Promenade, an event that would almost
certainly be the first in the whole world. The most amazing aspect of
this was that Blackpool was only quite a small town, and had beaten
several other towns and cities which later applied to Parliament with
acts that would allow them to introduce electricity. The introduction of
electric street lighting to Blackpool would be on a par with the
introduction of piped water.
Indeed, 1879 was an electrifying
year not only in Blackpool but throughout the world. Thomas Edison of
the USA had produced what was claimed to be the first reliable
incandescent light bulb (a claim later contested in court by Joseph
Swan, of England, who also produced a similar lamp at almost the same
These lamps quickly went on to
revolutionise lighting, as did an even more powerful form of lighting,
the electric arc lamp. Although Edison’s and Swan’s incandescent lamps
would soon challenge the arc lamp for supremacy, both of these brilliant
inventions would quickly find their way into the daily life of
Blackpool, as the town was about to find out.
The sensational event was long
anticipated by the many people who had heard on the grapevine that
Blackpool was planning something extraordinary with electrical lighting,
and when the Gas and Markets Committee of Blackpool Council advertised
the date of the event, visitors from all over Britain flocked to the
town. The resort, which by now had become well used to experiencing new
sensations, had never seen anything like the show it was about to stage;
nor had many others either. Reporters from national newspapers and
journals attended the event, as did many industrial and scientific
observers, some of whom came from overseas to witness the proceedings,
which were about to be put into action with all due ceremony and
"A fascinating new book"
"A handsome book"
Ned Sherrin (Presenter of Loose Ends, BBC Radio 4)
"Lots of great
photographs.............it's a really marvellous book"
Ted Robbins, BBC Radio Lancashire
"Informative and interesting"
Councillor Maxine Callow JP, Mayor of Blackpool 2004-2005