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Video: Winter Gardens Explorer, part 1

Darren Edwards’ YouTube channel Adventure Me features videos of the Leeds-based explorer visiting sites that pique his historical interests. In a guest post he explains what drew him to Blackpool’s Winter Gardens and shares the first part of a fascinating documentary series on the building.

Visiting Professor Peabody’s giant indoor playground as a child many times, I often wondered what else might lurk in the building. But we never seemed to go any further than the Victoria Street entrance to the Winter Gardens.

That was until 2006, when I went to see Peter Kay who was performing a few nights at the Blackpool Opera House. For the first time, I saw beyond the Olympia venue within the complex. I was in awe at the size of the Opera House and also it’s bold decor, with deep purple colouring and brash patterns on the wall. I couldn’t help but wonder what it once looked like.

That day I also happened to walk inside the main Winter Gardens entrance for the first time. Seeing the large glass dome, followed by the Floral Hall. I was totally in awe. How could I have not seen any of this before?

Living in Leeds, I don’t always have a chance to visit Blackpool. But whenever I did after that, I always made sure I would have a wander around the building. Even stopping for a coffee inside a few times.

I couldn’t help but notice, the building deteriorate over the years I visited. Looking unloved, and stocked with arcade machines, entrances blocked up and cheap signage placed all over the tiled walls.

All that would change in 2010 when, in a multi-million pound deal, Blackpool Council purchased the complex, along with the Tower, and unlocked funding that it severely needed.

I watched with interest as areas were sealed off for restoration projects, one by one. They seemed to reveal more gems along the way but, no surprise to me, they still haven’t finished a lot of the of it.

Fast forward to 2022, I now run a history and exploration YouTube channel. Covering all things historical, scratching surfaces to reveal hidden details and celebrating the past in the present. On a whim, I thought I would email the Winter Gardens to see if they would be interested in showing me it’s rich history and hidden features.

I didn’t hear anything for quite a while, then after my Blackpool Pleasure Beach documentary series aired. I received a response, saying they had watched it and realised I was serious about my offer.

Back in this newly refreshed and fascinating building, I was ready to really explore. Here, you can watch part one of my exploration of the main Winter Gardens building. In it, I delve into its past and uncover some hidden features behind a wall that hadn’t seen the light of day in many decades.

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