The second of Blackpool’s famous three piers – the Central Pier – is the median in all important respects. It was the second of the three to be built, it’s the second-longest, and (as its name would suggest) it’s the centremost of the pier structures the town has to offer. However, it’s far from being the disregarded middle child; the Central Pier has a rich history and a personality all of its own that marks it out as being delightfully different from its older and younger sisters.
Although the pier is central in position, that’s not the only reasoning behind the name; before the South Pier was built, it was known as the South Jetty, but soon became known as Central Pier due to its proximity to Blackpool Central railway station. It stands 500m or so to the south of Blackpool Tower, and so is pretty much smack bang in the middle of the action. When it opened in 1868, it was 460m long (not far from the North Pier in terms of size), but the final 120m was designed for use as a landing jetty in times of low tide; this was removed in 1975 as it had become obsolete, and so the pier currently stands at 339m. While the North Pier was designed for gentle and more sedate relaxation, Central Pier was intended to be for fun right from the start. Originally, this was in the form of dancing – a pastime that was considered just a tad scandalous in the 19th century – but later years brought roller-skating, arcades, amusement machines and fairground rides. As the popularity of the dance halls plummeted during the middle of the 20th century, they were gradually phased out to be replaced by theatres and bars, a decision that is no doubt incredibly popular with modern visitors, and proof that the Central Pier is capable of balancing nostalgia with the demands of modern holidaymaking.
If further proof of this were needed, however, you’d need to look no further than upwards, to the 33m high Ferris wheel that was built in 1990. This was designed as a half-scale commemoration of the Ferris wheel that had been brought into the Winter Gardens a hundred years before, and proved so popular with visitors that the mid-section of the pier was strengthened in order to accommodate the considerable weight of the wheel.
Just outside the Central Pier is Blackpool’s lifeboat station, including a small building devoted to explaining the role of the lifeboat in keeping the beaches safe, and providing a brief history of the service. It also offers you a chance to make a donation directly to the lifeboat fund, helping to keep the service operating and helping a great many people every year.
As you can see, Central Pier might sometimes be forgotten about between its two sisters, but it has a great deal to offer for everyone visiting Blackpool, from traditional attractions to shows, bars, and the famous Ferris wheel. As such, it’s a hugely important part of the Golden Mile, and is well worth a visit.