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Southport Reporter®

Edition No. 164

Date:- 20 August 2004

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125 years of the lights fantastic!
Photograph by Patrick Trollope.

SEPTEMBER 3 this year marks the 125th anniversary of one of Britain’s best loved institutions. From humble beginnings in 1879 the Blackpool Illuminations has become a nine-week, six mile electrical extravaganza.

To mark this special occasion, the first ever book to deal comprehensively with the subject is released today by Skelter Publishing.

‘From Lamp to Laser... The Story of the Blackpool Illuminations’ by Terry Regan and Andrew Hazlehurst will be on sale from 3rd September, almost 125 years to the day since the first Blackpool Lights were switched on.

Co-author Andrew Hazlehurst, the leading expert on Blackpool Illuminations history, says:- “The annual spectacle is world famous and draws millions to the town each autumn. This book has been written at this time of celebration, reflecting on Blackpool's past and also looking forward to a new and exciting era for the resort. When people think of Illuminations, they think of Blackpool and the happy holidays and trips they've had. This book will hopefully rekindle those memories and give the reader an insight into how the display is produced each year.”

The book takes a journey through Blackpool history and shows how the discovery of electrical power influenced the resort’s development. It is a roller coaster story that takes a nostalgic look at the illuminated displays and tableaux that have turned a simple light show into a national treasure.

Also included is an insight into the magical illuminated tramcars that compliment the displays
and the renowned celebrity switch-on ceremonies, which over the years have seen everything from a race horse, film stars and even Doctor Who pull the famous switch.

The book also takes a fascinating ....continued....

....continued.... trip behind the scenes, looking at the many months of planning that go into producing something that quite rightly calls itself “the greatest free show on earth”. 

Prominent local historian and co-author Terry Regan says:- “It has been my great pleasure as a Blackpool man to co-write this history of the resort, and to show the reader how, why and when the town and the Lights evolved. There is something to interest everyone in this book, not least the stunning collection of photographs and images”.

It is available from all good book shops.

Some Facts and figures...

In 1879 the Blackpool Illuminations comprised just eight arc lamps. The 2004 display will consist, approximately, of the following:-  Over 100-miles of festoon strip strung between more than 1,500 promenade poles.  Over 200 miles of cabling.  In excess of one million lamps in various types and styles. More than 500 scenic designs and features. 
40 large tableaux.  More than 5,000 floodlights and spotlights 

2004 Illuminations information... The Illuminations run from September 3 until November 7. 

Switch-on show presented by BBC Radio 2. 


AS the national Fish and Chip Shop of the Year competition reaches fever pitch, organisers, the Sea Fish Industry Authority are launching an appeal to find the oldest fish fryer in Britain. 

Created as far back as the 1870's, fish and chips is the UK's favourite take-away, with more than 280 million meals being sold every year, over 10,000 fish fryers in the UK and Seafish are on the hunt for the oldest and most experienced.

Andy Gray, project manager of the national Fish and Chip Shop of the Year competition said:- "We are looking to hear from fryers across the country that may fit the bill. We want to draw on their experience and hear all about the changing trends over the past 50 years." 

The oldest fryer will be presented with a special award at the National Fish and Chip of the Year Awards ceremony in January 2005. 

The area winners of the competition are scheduled to be announced in September. There will be 18 area winners announced and, from that shortlist, 10 regional winners will be chosen and announced in October. The overall UK winner will then be announced at an awards ceremony in London in January. 

If you think you are the oldest gastronomic fast food fish geek, email:-, stating your age and for how long you have been a fish fryer. 


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