Blackpool seashore: a 12 months within the lifetime of a seaside city | UK news

There is a rhythm set down by the ocean – by the regular flip of the tides, the passage of the boats, the pull between land and water. But it’s there additionally within the 12 months’s division of enjoyment, the stark demarcation of the out and in of season. To the unaccustomed eye there’s little so bleak as a seaside city in winter – the shuttered gaiety, the unpeopled shore, the wind that rattles the amusement arcades, ice-cream parlours and mattress and breakfast home windows.

When the hotter months come, they’re heralded not by the hedgerows, snowdrops and songbirds, however by a way of the city itself unfurling: the reopening of cafes on the entrance, the softened contours of the sand, by the ocean that now not scowls a hunkered-down gray, however softens, and lifts its face in the direction of the sky. And then comes the arrival of the day trippers, pleasure seekers, holidaymakers, a sudden swelling of numbers for the yearly parade of airshows, funfairs, hen dos, weddings.

Every 12 months the autumn hits with new strangeness. The sudden silence, the lurch. And then we’re returned as soon as extra to the vacancy, the quiet streets, the roaring sea. The sense of the city returned as soon as extra to its personal.

This previous 12 months, the Guardian photographer Christopher Thomond captured this flip of the seasons, depicting life alongside the quick stretch between Blackpool’s North and Central piers. It is a portrait of the land itself – of water, sky, blazing sunsets, but additionally of its individuals – the swimmers, cartwheelers and selfie takers who crowd this northern shore.

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Winter’s pier

In the wintertime there comes the sense of area – the sky spreads wider, and the sands lie largely empty. Sound folds out and in of itself: the whip of canines wet-footed and unleashed. The wild greedy name of the gulls that cling to the promenade and wheel the excessive winds, wings large, eyes sharp as needles. Above, the sunshine shifts: quick days, lengthy shadows, heavy cloud, fierce, chilly solar. There is a wierd new reverence for air, for the buffering of kites and the billowing of coats and the murmurations of starlings that swell and form. Beauty finds new kind: the gaudy buxomness of summer time is put aside, colors drain, develop softer, subtler, till the panorama sings a brand new and slighter track, of pier rust, tide-glint, rock.

Donkey ride owner Peter Gallagher on one of 17 rotating pitches on Blackpool beach


I’ve been doing this since I have been 9 12 months outdated and I’m 39 now. I began off with my uncle Norman. I have 18 donkeys altogether however these 4 I’ve stored up throughout winter. Today I got here down as quickly because the tide went out and I’ll get about an hour till about 5.30

Peter Gallagher, donkey proprietor

Carla Read's six-year-old son, Warren, flying a kite just after high tide

A gull with Blackpool Tower in the background

Carla Read’s six-year-old son, Warren, flying a kite simply after excessive tide; a gull with Blackpool Tower within the background.

Spring blossoms

Central pier, April

Life returns to the seaside in a flurry of reopenings: the stalls promoting postcards, knick-knacks, buckets and spades, the promise of loopy golf, deckchairs, carousels. It is an odd blossoming, in shades of vibrant plastic and candyfloss pink, and with it the sense that the joviality is rising, decided and potent as sap.

A visitor walks under a pier at low tide in May

A customer walks beneath a pier at low tide in May.

The first guests arrive, summoned by half time period, Easter break, they usually take to the sand in windcheaters and naked toes. The days will not be heavy but, they’re bracing and new. And the piers stand as unbelievable as flamingos, stalk-legged within the tide.

A sign on the North Pier promises entertainment

Love padlocks attached to the North Pier railings

An indication on the North Pier; love padlocks attacked to the railings.


We’ve come for a few days from the other coast, close to Whitby. The sand’s higher over this facet, at the very least for sandcastle constructing


Dean Brown constructing a replica Blackpool Tower on the beach

Dean Brown establishing a duplicate Blackpool Tower on the seashore.

Summer lovin’

Bustling Blackpool in the height of summer

In summer time, the sound of the seaside grows voluptuous, comfortable air crammed with bursts of enjoyment – laughter, squeals, full-bellied gulls. The chatter of vacationers, whose days stretch lengthy and warm-limbed earlier than them. The days fill out, their hours taken up with sandcastles, fairground rides, amorous affairs. There are so many individuals now – all alongside the entrance, on the sand, gathered within the arcades, driving donkeys, strolling canines, taking part in rugby within the sea. They come for a day, they keep for per week, for a time this city turns into theirs. And the sky too offers itself as much as the season, full now of airshows, sunsets, the scent of chip fats and doughnuts.

The annual Blackpool airshow

The annual Blackpool airshow; younger aviation fanatics.

A young aviation enthusiast at the airshow

All kitted out for the airshow


We have been going to go to Skegness however we thought no, Blackpool’s the place. We had a little bit of a street journey on the way in which right here, there’s hundreds to do such because the Pleasure Beach. I’d by no means been within the sea earlier than so I don’t know what to check it to but it surely’s been nice

Tim Swain

Nottingham students play rugby in the sea during a four-day break in Blackpool

Nottingham college students play rugby within the sea throughout a four-day break in Blackpool.

On the seashore

Sue Taylor’s donkey on the beach in July

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There isn’t any nice fanfare. The our bodies are revealed abruptly, awkwardly, supplied as much as the summer time as a pale reward. The youngsters making an attempt out this 12 months’s bikini, the fathers who stand on the seashore bare-chested, displaying their prowess with sandcastles, large spades, unbelievable swimming feats.

Donkeys parade on the beach

Donkeys parade on the seashore; a tractor skims the sands earlier than breakfast, getting ready the seashore at low tide for the day’s guests.

A tractor skims the sands before breakfast, preparing the beach at low tide for the day’s visitors

Under the regular eye of lifeguards, youngsters discover this new terrain: of sand within the sandwiches, damp costumes, lotion, the dazzling new array of prizes, a crab in a bucket, an extended streak of seaweed curled like a dragon pores and skin, a shell, small and unimaginable as a fingernail.


There’s sandbanks and incoming tides to be careful for and bye-laws to obey – for instance we don’t enable inflatables as, when there’s offshore winds, the very last thing we wish is somebody floating off to Norway

Jessica Cunagh, lifeguard

An abandoned Toy Story inflatable ring

Yan Xiao from China: ‘I’m visiting England for 10 days. The travel group booked to come here. It’s very beautiful. Very nice’

An deserted Toy Story inflatable ring, Yan Xiao from China.

Lifeguards keep watch over the beach at the start of the school holiday season

Lifeguards hold watch over the seashore firstly of the college holiday season.

Beach patrol lifeguards

Beach patrol lifeguards

Ropes and security messages from the seashore patrol.

Switched on

The illuminations are tested at the Ride the Lights cycling event before the official switch on three days later

Since 1879, Blackpool has held its annual mild show as a crowning to the summer time months. Running for 66 days and alongside six miles of the Fylde coast, the event requires greater than 1m bulbs, prices near £2m, and throws the city right into a state of vibrant hysteria. The Illuminations nonetheless draw the crowds, the run of lanterns and glitz enlivened as of late by illuminated trams, 3D projections on the tower, and a multimedia competition of sunshine. For most, although, it’s nonetheless a gradual journey alongside the entrance, faces pressed to automobile home windows, a blur of lights past.

Charlie Wen from Malaysia and Lan Yi Qin from China take pictures of themselves on the beach, lit by the glow of the illuminations

Charlie Wen from Malaysia and Lan Yi Qin from China take footage of themselves, lit by the glow of the illuminations.

Autumn takes maintain

The sun sets on Bonfire night, the final day of the resort’s illuminations and the last day of the season

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A seaside city doesn’t fade into autumn. There isn’t any pastoral descent of leaf-turn and woodsmoke. Instead there’s the sudden curtain-drop of low season, an ending too brutal to be wistful. Still some holidaymakers select to linger – holding to the final heat days, the deserted detritus of the summer time months: rubber ring, skateboard, bucket, having fun with the oddness of this time, the hours turned mute and aimless.

Everyday life on the beach as the sun sets on Bonfire night, the last day of the season

The solar units on Bonfire evening, the ultimate day of the resort’s well-known illuminations and the final day of the season.

The shadows grow longer at the end of a windy autumnal day

It’s all quiet on the North pier

The sunlight fades over the Central Pier

Sunlight fades over the Central pier.

RNLI volunteers on their weekly practice session after nightfall

RNLI volunteers on their weekly follow session after dusk.

But now comes the ocean mist and the shuttering, the dwindling of footsteps alongside the entrance. And the city feels the pull of its personal tide, a comfortable withdrawal from the shore, ebbing inland, mendacity low, till the spring returns as soon as extra.

The low sun beneath a pier on Blackpool beach

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