Blackpool Civic Trust

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Blackpool Civic Trust Awards and Dinner 2015

Held Friday 26th February 2016

The Blackpool Civic Trust Awards Ceremony and Dinner was held on Friday 26th February 2016 at the Paradise Room, Blackpool Pleasure Beach. These awards are for excellence in building, design and work in the community during 2015, which was also the 40th anniversary of Blackpool Civic Trust.

Sponsors for the event:

Blackpool Borough Council

Cassidy & Ashton Architects of Preston & Chester

The Imperial Hotel

No 1 Hotel

Burbage Holiday Group


Sophisticated Events

A wonderful evening at the Paradise Room, Blackpool Pleasure Beach!

Hosts for the evening: Jimmy Armfield, Joan Humble, Andy Mitchell.

To open the award presentations Elaine Smith MBE and President of Blackpool Civic Trust introduced Joan Humble the Chairman of Blackpool Civic Trust. Photo of Elaine.

Joan Humble announced the attendance of the Mayor of Blackpool, Councillor Peter Callow and the Mayoress, Councillor Mrs Maxine Callow. Also Mr Gordon Marsden, Member of Parliament for Blackpool South and leader of the Council, Councillor Simon Blackburn and the Blackpool Chief Executive, Mr Neil Jack. Photo of Joan.

Joan said the first official meeting of Blackpool Civic Trust was held in February 1975 at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Sir Harold Grime, the distinguished editor of the Gazette agreed to become the President and Geoffrey Thompson, the Managing Director of the Pleasure Beach, became the first Chairman.

Two of our current Vice-Presidents were involved in the Civic Trust from that very first meeting. Cllr David Owen was the first Secretary and Mr Martin Gunson who started as Press Officer, became Vice-Chairman and then Chairman. Thanks for your continuing support over what is now 41 years.

Photo: Mr Martin Gunson and Dr Freddie Gick.

Guests also included the Chairman of Lytham St Annes Civic Society, Mrs Marion Coupe. Corporate Members of Blackpool Civic Trust. Our special guest Dr Freddie Gick, the Chair of Civic Voice. Freddie presented to Blackpool Civic Trust, at the Convention and AGM of Civic Voice, a special achievement award for all the work that we do during Civic Week in June. That will challenge us to do even better this year.

Thanks to Carl Carrington, Blackpools Built Heritage Manager, for all the support he has given the Civic Trust throughout the year.

Very good friend and member of the Trust, the News Editor at Radio Wave, Mr Andy Mitchell who again agreed to be MC for the evening.

Amanda Thompson, one of our patrons, cannot attend and is represented by the Pleasure Beach Director of Finance Mr Nigel Kilgallon. Our other patron is our good friend and Freeman of the Borough, the one and only, Mr Jimmy Armfield CBE. I am pleased that he and his wife, Mrs Anne Armfied, are here with us again this evening; a great big welcome to them both.

The Junior Schools Environmental Shield: St Nicholas Church of England Primary School

The School has built a project around the history and traditions of the Moss market gardening heritage.

In days gone by the school taught market gardening to its pupils and the pupils of today are taught how to look after chickens and sell the eggs as a business as well as how to grow produce such as tomatoes and strawberries which the Moss has always been famous for!


But thats not all, the children also grow a wide range of other fruits like blackcurrants, raspberries and blueberries alongside chilies and garlic, potatoes, courgettes, peas and various herbs.

The Senior Schools Environmental Shield: Park Community Academy

The environmental project at Park Community Academy has been running for eight successful years and has achieved the prestigious "Green Flag" ECO school award every year since it started.

Staff and Pupils have been committed to ensuring their school environment is energy efficient and environmentally friendly and the ECO curriculum affects every aspect of school life. Activities include recycling rubbish throughout the school day, re-using materials in creative activities as well as reducing waste through the use of wormeries in the school grounds.


This award is given for excellence in conservation or high quality building restoration work and was presented by Cllr Simon Blackburn, Leader of Blackpool Council.


When the Imperial Hotel first opened, it gained fame as the Imperial Hydropathic Hotel. It featured up to ten bathing areas, including Turkish and Russian Baths and sea water plunge pools.

The Turkish baths were probably built in the last decade of the 19th Century. Victorian Turkish Baths used hot air not steam and those in the Imperial are located in the basement of the South Wing. They were decorated with glazed tiles made by the famous Burmantofts Pottery of Leeds.

After the Second World War the Turkish baths were closed and the tiles covered in thick plaster. The area was used for storage and the baths forgotten until almost two years ago, when Blackpool Civic Trust was contacted by the General Manager, Alison Gilmore, to see if the trust could identify volunteers to explore the basement and see what lay under the plaster.

At first working with Andrew Gladwell, but for the last several months independently as contractors, a regular group of volunteers has uncovered the wonders of tile work from more than a hundred years ago.

Civic Trust volunteers have researched the baths and developed skills in carefully removing the plaster and paint to reveal the beautiful tiles. Some of the tiles were deliberately damaged, others accidently damaged but most are in very good condition.


The COMMUNITY AWARD - Joint Winners: The Friends of Watson Road Park

This can go to any kind of community or voluntary group and it recognises groups or individuals making a difference in their community. The choice was so difficult that this year we have two winners.

Friends of Watson Road Park and representatives of Blackpool Coastal Housing

This is not the first time that the Friends of Watson Road Park have received an award from Blackpool Civic Trust. Last year we applauded the efforts that they put in to support the archaeological volunteers on the WW 1 training trenches uncovered in the park.

This year we recognise all the many other activities they engage in. The Friends open the Pavilion Cafe every day and when the community centre was extended, they approached Blackpool Coastal Housing to give them a grant to improve the pathway to the memorial garden and tarmac the entrance area to the park pavilion. This successful grant application substantially improved disabled access.

The Friends also put on a range of popular events from dog shows to the Summer Gala and a regular programme of childrens parties and coffee mornings to raise funds for their mission to maintain the park as a superb community facility. Other groups are always welcome to use the facilities, including South Shore Youth Football and the Blackpool and Fylde Rail Users Association amongst many others.


The COMMUNITY AWARD - Joint Winners: Ibbison Court Centre

The Ibbison Court community group has been together for five years and has a clear aim to encourage community engagement in this area of Blackpool. They are determined to make a difference to their community by improving the lives of the people that live within the area. They do this by listening to the community, working with their ward Councillors and then putting on a wide variety of activities, encouraging people to come through their door but also going out into the community.

They now have a play area, community garden, Memory Lane cafe, and Bingo club. Arts activities are key to encouraging engagement. There is new group, the Hand Made Uns, and another which is described as the Graffiti Grans. These Graffiti Grans have been at work in the Palatine Car Park and on May 21st will be in the Grand Theatre.

Police and Community Together meetings are held in the centre and the community group also organizes larger scale events such as the Revoe Fun Day and the Revoe Christmas Lights stitch on.

But perhaps they are most famous for the Revo-lution choir which was set up three years ago. The Choir now regularly appears at community events throughout Blackpool.


The OPEN SPACES AWARD: The High Ropes Course at Stanley Park

This award is aimed at recognising achievements in creating attractive public spaces either landscaped or hardscaped.

Councillor Graham Cain and Mr John Blackledge collected the award

Stanley Park High Ropes Course opened in May 2015, providing a fantastic facility for both local residents and visitors to the Town.

The high Ropes Course is suitable for anyone 5 years and over and operates two levels. The 'low ropes' course sits 4 meters off the ground and the 'high ropes' course is eight meters high providing fantastic views across Stanley Park, Blackpool and further afield. Both courses provide a range of activities and challenges for participants to cross including swinging tyres, zip wire onto a cargo net, plank bridges, wobbly logs and lots more. The three story tower also features a zip line, rock climbing wall and a range of developmental activities including crate stack challenge, gladiator challenge, leap of faith and all aboard.

The course was designed to complement the Grade 2 listed park, using natural timbers for the course itself as well as the booking office. The site itself re-uses part of the site once occupied by the former greenhouses and demonstrates an excellent example of brownfield development.


The School Shields, Open Space and Community Awards were chosen by members of our Executive Committee, but the next 4 awards were chosen by a panel of judges who are:

Alistair Baines is a local architect and has been involved with the awards judging for some years now. Pippa Greenway is from Blackpool Councils Planning office. Aaron Spendley is from Blackpool Sixth Form College and Roxanne Bryan is from Blackpool & the Fylde College. The buildings of today are the future heritage of our children & grandchildren and so we think its essential to have young people on our panel. Canon Andrew Sage, the Civic Trusts Planning Officer.

Best Night Time Economy: The Velvet Coaster

The large steel beams over the vast roof terrace draw attention to this new development on the promenade in the South of Blackpool. On entering the pub through the glass fronted entrance, customers are greeted by a towering lift shaft which acts as a means of access to all 3 floors.

The ground floor is a real show case of features inspired by the surrounding area. The bar area is a tribute to the beach and sea and the first floor bar area has feature rope lighting which mixes marine and industrial themes.

The second floor bar area is a blend of contemporary finishes continuing the seaside theme. The roof terrace is a real feature of the design where customers can enjoy the sights and sounds of Blackpool in comfort.

The use of themes that have a local resonance as well as a more general seaside feel are what recommended this building to the judges. The overall design is clean and modern with an art deco feel that reflects the heritage of the nearby Pleasure Beach working well in its surroundings.

This new venue is enormously popular and attracts customers throughout the day as well as at night and the family friendly nature of Wetherspoons makes it an ideal place to stop and relax after a visit to Blackpools promenade and attractions during the day.

Best Refurbishment Award: The Winter Gardens Theatre Bar

Collecting the award are Gregor Mazurek and Anna Psonak from the Blackpool Entertainment Company Ltd and Rob Knighton from Eclipse Developments.

The Theatre Bar, formerly known as Bar Red, had been closed for five years as part of the extensive refurbishment work taking place to the Winter Gardens complex. The restaurant originally formed the main entrance through Italian gardens to the Empress Ballroom when it was opened in 1896. Since then, it has been a car showroom for Brown and Mallalieu and more recently many of you will remember it as Vernon Humpages.

During the work, the remarkable Art Nouveau painted ceramic panels by artist J Neatby working for Royal Doulton were uncovered.? These panels represent a series of women in exotic costume, representing birds and precious stones and are surrounded by exceptional quality ceramic tiles in peacock blue, many of which were badly damaged.

To ensure these beautiful works of art could go on show without risking further damage to the surrounding panels, the walls were carefully covered again, leaving the female figures displayed in recessed and lit arches and now form the most impressive feature of the restaurants interior, which also includes a spectacular black and white image across the back wall of the same space as a car showroom full of Morris Cars!

The bar now opens regularly serving a wide range of drinks and also a 40 cover restaurant serving gourmet burgers from a theatre inspired menu.

Best New Build: Blackpool and the Fylde College Advanced Technology Centre

The Advanced Technology Centre is a two storey new build further education facility for the School of Engineering at Blackpool and The Fylde Colleges principal campus at Bispham. The building includes space for teaching automotive engineering, research and development and advanced manufacturing applications including robotics, pneumatics and hydraulics.

The building was created as an inspiring environment for the delivery of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics skills to meet local and regional needs and definitely looks the part.

The design of the building is focused around the concept of strong geometrical elevations with a curved roof and front which draw you towards the focal entrance.?The landscaping fits with the same design principles using sweeping curves and sharp edges to echo the building it surrounds.

The Advanced Technology Centre is itself a triumph of modern sustainable technology, most notably in its use of high quality materials in construction and its renewable energy features which have achieved the BREEAM Excellent standard in reducing energy consumption. The building, in effect, does what it says on the tin!

Best Shop Front Award: Amaro

Amaro is a new Italian restaurant located on St Johns Square in Blackpool town centre. The restaurant occupies a former clothing retail unit on the corner of Church Street and Leopold Grove.

The building is within the Town Centre Conservation Area and part of the setting of the Grade II* Winter Gardens and so particular regard had to be paid to the restaurant street frontage.

Working closely with local joiners and metal workers, Joseph Boniface Architects designed a simple yet effective shop front which works well within the conservation area and provides an attractive and practical frontage for the restaurant.

The use of traditional window shapes in contemporary aluminium frames has allowed the architect to use traditional form but to add a contemporary feel to the restaurant.


Special Award: Blackpool Transport Services for the Heritage Tram Fleet

Collecting the Award are Cllr Christine Wright, Chair of Blackpool Transport Services and Mr Bryan Lindop Head of Heritage representing the Heritage Tram Tours Team.

Building on a proud history of 130 years of continuous electric tramway operation, Blackpool Heritage Tram Tours prides itself on its commitment to deliver a high quality, world class Heritage Attraction that Blackpool can be proud of.

Its customers are at the very heart of everything that Blackpool Transport Services does and its staff is dedicated to delivering a family friendly experience that is both affordable and good value for money.

Visitor numbers have been boosted by tram enthusiasts from all over the world and on the key operating dates the heritage trams are often filled to capacity.

Throughout the season very positive feedback has been given by passengers to the service. To this can be added a very successful Illuminations period with record attendances on the lights tours.

Management and staff on the Heritage Tram Fleet can look back on the 2015 season with pride whilst feeling confident that they are going to deliver something even better next year!


Best New Quality Visitor Attraction: Red Arrows Skyforce Ride at the Pleasure Beach

Mr Nigel Kilgallon accepted the award on behalf of the Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

It seems appropriate doesnt it that were giving another award to the Pleasure Beach in this 40th anniversary year given the long connection with the Civic Trust and the Thompson family!

Blackpool Pleasure Beach reached for the skies with a brand new ride for 2015, Red Arrows Skyforce.

The amusement park joined forces with the world famous Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, and became the worlds first tourist attraction to have a ride based on the planets best known aerobatic display team.

The 72ft high, 12 seat white-knuckle ride takes you on a 360 degree tour of the skies and sits in the shadow of the world famous Big One rollercoaster. Stepping into your own Red Arrows cockpit, you take control of the plane and spin and glide and take formation in your very own display.

The Red Arrows have enjoyed a long association with Blackpool and the Pleasure Beach during the teams history. Its a great testament to this connection that the north west of England will get to enjoy and play host to a permanent Red Arrows experience.


Thanks were given to:

The sponsors named above.

Andy Mitchell for reading out the citations, Carl Carrington for his ongoing support and Jimmy Armfield for giving out the awards. Three gifts were presented to say thank you properly.

Flowers were presented to the Mayoress by Christine Lambe of Blackpool Civic Trust.

Thanks to members of our committee whose skill is to be seen all around us in the form of the decorations, printed menus, and raffle prizes.

Thanks are also given to Peter Owen for the photographs of the event.

The Mayor and Mayoress with Joan Humble and Barry Shaw.

Jimmy Armfield, Joan, Andy Mitchell.

Canon Sage of St Stephens on the Cliff's guests.


Read our previous Awards events. Click here.

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