Blackpool Illuminations New Archive Blog

Illuminations Archive
Illuminations Archive

Last week saw me take a visit to Lightworks, the Blackpool Illuminations depot, to find out more about the history of Blackpool’s famous illuminations and meet new kid on the Blog, Carol Chapman who has the exciting but arduous task of rediscovering the huge collection of paraphernalia that has accumulated over the years.

Tell me more about your project!
The blog is called Illuminations Collection and is a way for me to share with as many people, the discoveries I make on a daily basis. Weekly, I upload pictures and share news about what is happening at Lightworks such as new collections, visits from our latest designer, Lawrence Llewellyn Bowen, and also to trace some of the history that is behind the illuminations.

Illuminations Archive
Illuminations Archive

Where did the idea for the blog come from?
The whole project is to archive all of 20,000 pieces artwork that has been made and kept since the mid 1920’s. With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and supported by Blackpool Council, we hope to create a local database that people can access and see where the illuminations started up to present day.

Why is it so important to create an archive?
The Illuminations figure in my memories from growing up in the North West, just as it does for so many others. It’s a wonderful thing that we have these reminders and also the opportunity to make such an archive and preserve them for the future generations to enjoy.  One thing that Blackpool is missing is a museum and that would be a great thing to aim for.

What sort of thing have you discovered?
There really is a great range; we’ve found original artwork, paintings, concept drawings, plans, slides and photographs. Some have not been as well protected as you might have wanted so with the help of volunteers I am photographing, cleaning and putting them in protected covers to keep them as long as possible.

Illuminations Archive: Pixie Pastures
Illuminations Archive: Pixie Pastures

Interestingly enough, we’ve also seen many designs for the Town Hall, which it seems used to be a centre piece for the illuminations. It’s also interesting to see the drawings that never made it past the concept stage and must have been scrapped or put to one side.

What’s your favourite piece so far?
One of my many favourite pieces is of the ‘Pixie Pastures’ section of the lights designed by Alan Cockcroft in the 1980’s. Its bright and bold colours grab you and it’s really reminiscent of the time.

After our chat, Carol let me take a sneak peek at some of the collection. The designs vary and it’s easy to see the change in trends and artists.All, however, are consistently beautiful and I ran out of words to describe my pleasure at having such access to the history of what has been the heart of Blackpool for just over a hundred years.

This weekend’s Switch On festival signals the start of the lights for 2013 and what a great way to prepare and appreciate the art behind the lights than to click on to the Archives blog.

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