The Stanley Park Heritage Trail in Blackpool is available on a paper leaflet from the Visitor Centre next to the Car Park.
The Visitor Centre, built with Lottery Funding on the site of a joinery workshop, was opened by the 19th Earl of Derby on the 24th August 2005. This is where the Heritage Trail begins.
The Heritage Trail
- Leave the Visitor Centre by turning left and passing the front of the Art Deco building known as the Stanley Park Cafe. The architect of this park, Thomas Mawson, originally intended this building to be a four storey social centre standing in an elevated position overlooking the Italian Gardens but because of escalating costs, this plan was never realised. A cafe in the Art Deco style was designed by the Council’s Chief Architectural Assistant, J.C. Robinson and was opened in 1937.
- Continue forward and down the slope to the lake. The design of the Boathouses, faced with rough cast render and with sweeping roofs in Westmorland slate is similar to the design of the gate lodges at the main entrance to Stanley Park and the Pavilion. This is where the boats, used on the lake during the summer are stored.
- At the boat house turn around and head back past the ice cream kiosk on your right and turn left along the lake terrace to the Bandstand. This is built of artificial stone to a classical design. The columns are in a stylised Corinthian design and are silmilar to those used at the Temple of Aphrodite in the Gardens of the Palace of Versailles. The bandstand has a copper domed roof with a decorative finial on the top.
The bandstand is spacious and can accommodate up to 32 performers. Since the bandstand opened on the 30th June 1929, the most famous brass bands in the country have performed here, the first being the Culcheth Military Band from Manchester. The auditorium was built to hold 3000 spectators and was designed so that all spectators were able to enjoy the views over the lake. 3000 may seem like a lot but it was estimated that 40,000 people visited the park in a single day on 27th January 1927 to view a solar eclipse.
- Facing the bandstand proceed to your right and at the junction of the path turn left and walk up the hill and walk towards The Pavilion which was originally built as a tearoom. Positioned at the centre of the tennis courts it allowed people to watch the matches from the upper and lower verandas. The building is less formal the other buildings in the park with a slightly rustic feel but reflects the construction of some of the houses around the park with its wooden railed balconies and attractive Westmorland slate roof.
- At the Pavilion turn right. this is the town’s other tower and was named after Blackpool’s first Mayor Alderman Dr Cocker. It stands 26 metres high and is built of Portland limestone (you might be able to see tiny fossilised seashells in it). It was designed by Lionel Budden, Assistant Professor of Architecture at Liverpool University. There are 78 steps inside and it cost £7000 to build.
It was opened on 29th June 1927 with the Blackpool Lifeboat band playing and afternoon tea served in a marquee. The inscription panel is in Westmorland slate and the lions’ head drinking fountains are in bronze. It cost 3d to go up the Tower but today when the tower is open we go up free of charge!
- Turn right to the Italian Gardens. These Gardens are the centre piece of the park. The circular design of the gardens give us exact north, south, east, west compass bearings using the clock tower as the south marker and the cafe as the north. The Italian Garden has a fountain in the centre with four marble seahorses. These were donated by John Magee of the Bolton brewing company Magee Marshall and Co Ltd.
- Then right around the perimeter of the Gardens towards the Art Deco cafe. Looking up at the cafe you will see two lions these are copies of the Medici Lions guarding the entrance to the Loggia Dei Lanzi in the Piazza della Signoria in Florence. The Lions are copies of the original grand 2 replicas bought by John Magee from the great sale at Stowe house in Buckinghamshire in the early 1920s. Magee originally bought them with the idea of donating them to the council for the new Central Promenade in Blackpool but the council thought they’d be better as part of the park.In 2013 the council agreed to loan the lions donated by Magee to Stowe House, on a long-term agreement, in return Blackpool was loaned a pair of exact replicas and residents of the town were given the right to visit the house and gardens at no charge when they are open to the public as a token of Stowe School’s gratitude.Continue past the lions and take the second turn on the right.
- Passing the gate house designed by apprentice Mawson proceed through the gate and turn right onto West Park Drive. Outside the cricket ground can be found Barlow Crescent. This road was named after R.G. Barlow a member of the England team in the year when the wives burnt the bails and the Ashes came into being. He lived on Woodlands Grove.A few feet further on can be found the only letter box bearing the monogram of King Edward VIII in Blackpool because of the speed of the abdication only three others were placed in The Fylde – Lower Green, Poulton-le-Fylde and Thornton Gate.
- Turn right at the gate and enter the park. These Gates, the main gates to the park were opened by the 17th Earl of Derby, (Lord Stanley and hence Stanley Park) on the 2nd October 1926. The Mayor Thomas Bickerstafef and 80 other Mayors and Mayoresses along with other local and national dignitaries were in attendance and again the Lifeboat Band played and a golden key was used in the lock.The gate lodges to either side were originally built for the Park Superintendents.
Leading to the park from the main gates is Mawson Drive which was named after the park architects in 1994. Until that time Mawson had not been commemorated in any way within the park so Blackpool Civic Trust campaigned successfully to have the road named after him.
Take the path on left to visit the Rose Gardens, Thomas Mawson designed this garden in a natural sunken area in the park where there had previously been a brickworks. the Roses planted here are the same varieties as Mawson originally specified.
- Admire the Roses before heading East towards the bowling green. Before descending the steps admire the view over the park, for wheelchair access from the Rose Garden follow the path towards Mawson Drive and then turn left to the bowling green. The Green’s here are very popular and are located in a classical sunken area with Colonnaded Pavilions to the right hand side and formal stairs to the left.
- Walk between the Greens back to the Car Park and Visitor Centre. Now would be a good time to return to the Cafe for a refreshment and to view the inside of this Art Deco building.Inside the Cafe retains many original features including the attractive cast iron ventilation grilles depicting classic Deco images such as dancing ladies and nautical themes. The main door with its curved corners and geometric etched into the glass is another example of typical Art Deco design.