From Lamp to Laser: The Story of the Blackpool Illuminations
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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 time).

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 celebration.


"A fascinating new book"
Sunday Express

"A handsome book"
Ned Sherrin
(Presenter of Loose Ends, BBC Radio 4)

"Lots of great's a really marvellous book"
Ted Robbins, BBC Radio Lancashire

"Informative and interesting"
Councillor Maxine Callow JP, Mayor of Blackpool 2004-2005


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