Today, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are visiting Blackpool for a day full of engagements. The seaside town used to be a popular Victorian holiday destination.
The couple was welcomed in the city by rainy weather.
Ahead of the visit Palace said that the couple will see a series of innovative projects that are focused on investment and regeneration, as well as learning how the resort is leading the way in tackling some of the social and mental health problems faced by people in Britain today. Upon arrival, they were welcomed by the Mayor and Mayoress of Blackpool along with Simon Blackburn, the leader of the council.
The first stop of the day was the iconic Blackpool Tower, In the surroundings of one of the UK’s most famous landmarks. The Blackpool Tower is a tourist attraction in Blackpool, which was opened to the public on 14 May 1894. Inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, it is 518 feet tall and is the 120th-tallest freestanding tower in the world. When the Tower opened, 3,000 customers took the first rides to the top. The Tower was not painted properly during its first thirty years and became corroded, leading to discussions about demolishing it. However, it was decided to rebuild it instead, and all the steelwork in the structure was replaced and renewed between 1920 and 1924.
The top of the tower is currently known as the Blackpool Tower Eye. At a height of 380 feet, the Eye is the highest observation deck in North West England. It was previously known simply as the Tower Top, until it reopened on September 2011. Today along with the Tower Eye, the tower has Blackpool Tower Circus, The Blackpool Tower Ballroom, the Blackpool Tower Dungeon.
Once inside the Tower, Catherine and William briefly stopped at a giant mirror unveiled by Princess Diana in July 1992 to mark the opening of Tower World. William and Catherine toured the Tower Ballroom with Kate Shane, the head of Merlin Entertainments Blackpool, which is open to the public daily. From their balcony view they watched dancers go through their strides in a waltz to I Shall See You Later, played on the Wurlitzer by Chris Hopkins.
The Duke and Duchess joined a round table briefing about the town’s recent history, the challenges, and the investment and regeneration efforts that are currently underway. They were joined by the business and social representatives from Blackpool community. Among those in attendance were the Mayor and Mayoress – Coun Gary Coleman and Coun Debbie Coleman, Blackpool Council leader Simon Blackburn, and Blackpool South’s Labour MP Gordon Marsden.
About the visit, Coun Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council, said, “We are delighted to be able to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Blackpool to showcase the ongoing physical regeneration of the resort and illustrate some of the ground-breaking work that is underway to help transform people’s lives within the town. The Duke and Duchess will be able to see at first-hand the innovative ways in which we are addressing social challenges to improve people’s life chances and create a place in which they are proud to live and work.”
During the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit to Blackpool today, William acknowledged the challenges facing “one of the United Kingdom’s most loved seaside towns… But there obviously is a sadder side to Blackpool that we will see a bit of today and we shouldn’t attempt… pic.twitter.com/XccYlODwU9
— Roya Nikkhah (@RoyaNikkhah) March 6, 2019
During the roundtable discussion, William acknowledged the challenges the city is facing. RoyaNikkhah on Twitter reported,
“One of the United Kingdom’s most loved seaside towns… But there obviously is a sadder side to Blackpool that we will see a bit of today and we shouldn’t attempt to skirt around this issue… Unemployment remains quite high, skilled professionals continue to leave faster than they arrive, and Blackpool has become a transitory town for many without the right employment opportunities. Against this backdrop, mental health issues and social problems have risen. And a unique problem has also arisen as a result of falling demand for tourist accommodation, which has created an oversupply of what the council now perceive to be extremely low-quality private-rented accommodation. Catherine and I are going to be examples of that first hand. And it is something that we’d like to hear a bit more about during the course of this meeting, as well as about the positive steps being taken by the community to address the issues.”
As they depart Blackpool Tower they spend time on ‘Comedy Carpet’ on the promenade to meet with members of the public gathered outside.
Comedy Carpet on the promenade is one of the largest pieces of public art ever commissioned in the UK. The 1880 square-metre carpet features jokes, song lyrics, and catchphrases from 850 writers and comedians.
Hundreds of well-wishers braved the rain to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Catherine was presented with flowers and t-shirts for her whole family having I ♥ Blackpool.
William and Catherine were presented with the traditional stick of Blackpool rock.
During the walkabout, Duchess talked about a possible return to Blackpool with her three children, after saying she was disappointed at not getting to go to the top of the Tower
Second engagement of the day was embargoed one. William and Catherine visited Kirby Road to see the realities of the town’s housing problems and the significant work underway to resolve these. They were shown around old boarding houses in Blackpool that are seriously substandard and which slum landlords had multiple people living in until very recently.
Simon Perry from People reported,
In one house, walls were covered in black mold and graffiti, with debris littering the floor and children’s toys and a small coat left behind. They had to walk on planks to avoid dangerous rotting floorboards, while water dripped from a ceiling in the living room. The houses fell into disrepair after being purchased by private landlords, and then been used for multiple occupancy homes. The couple were shown how Blackpool Housing Company — which works with the local council — has stepped in to buy some at a market rate of about $60,000 each, renovated them and then renting them out as warm, safe, family homes.
Lee Burrell, development director of Blackpool Housing Company, who showed them around, tells PEOPLE, “Families and children are close to their heart and housing standards are a fundamental part of a family’s happiness and they showed a level of passion in terms of children and a level of knowledge of housing related issues. The passion came over in how they asked questions. It was heartening to see such a level of interest in what we are trying to tackle. There was a passion there I probably didn’t expect.
They were very interested in children and how they could be impacted by the living conditions. They were interested in what we are trying to do to resolve issues and where legislation might help change things.”
After seeing an example of the poorly maintained ex-boarding house at Kirby Road in Blackpool, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit Christina Jackson in a similar house across the road which has been purchased and upgraded by My Blackpool Home.
My Blackpool Home works to substantially improve the standards, choice & management of rental accommodation in the inner areas of Blackpool. Christina’s home was renovated in 2018 under BlackpoolCouncil’s investment and refurbishment scheme — in total around 50 bedsits in the area have now become 13 good quality homes for families. From People, “Jackson told reporters afterwards, They said the house is absolutely lovely. They’re so down to earth, they really got it. They seem to know everything that was going on and was very understanding.”
Then the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge travelled to Blackpool Central Library where they joined two separate discussions focussing on issues and initiatives of particular relevance to each of their ongoing charitable interests.
The Duchess continued her work on early childhood and join people involved in Blackpool’s ‘A Better Start’ programme, including health visitors, practitioners from the Family Nurse Partnership, and parents. The Better Start partnership is responsible for implementing services which families need for their children to be healthy, happy and ready to learn. They aim to make a decisive change to transform their life chances and to achieve a generational shift, ensuring that today’s babies enjoy the early care and nurture they need for healthy development and to be ready for school, and that in turn, as they grow up and become parents themselves, they will pass on the Better Start legacy to the next generation.
The session, led by Merle Davies, the Director of Blackpool’s Centre for Early Child Development, discussed the impact of long-term investment in mothers, fathers and children in their early years. The couple heard about hearing about Health Visitor Transformation, FNP, Trauma-Informed Care and Baby Steps.
A beautiful shot of Duchess. The Duke met people affected by problems around mental health, including issues such as homelessness and addiction, and meet people making a difference through the innovative work locally. He also met representatives of the emergency services and first responder community to learn more about how they are helping people with complex mental health needs.
For the final stop of the day, the royal couple visited Revoe Park, a recently revamped community garden and park that has been transformed thanks to involvement from ‘A Better Start’. The couple arrived at the park in torrential rain.
The park had previously been a known location for drug use, in an area of significant deprivation, yet is now a great example of how a long-term community-led initiative can transform lives and provide new opportunities. In particular, the park is helping young children experience gardening and the outdoors, as well as providing space and activities that allow parents, particularly men, to talk about mental health.
Little boy Jack gave a woodland necklace to Duchess and William got one for him from cute girl Bella Mae-Coleman. He proudly wore his and joined the forest school group roasting marshmallows around the campfire.
… while Bella Mae-Coleman has made one for Wills, who proudly wore his as he joined the forest school group roasting marshmallows round the camp fire 🔥 (it was so cold and wet, I was surprised they didn’t eat a few of the marshmallows!) pic.twitter.com/h7I2rOXm8E
— Emily Andrews (@byEmilyAndrews) March 6, 2019
While Catherine talked to the parents about how they use the Forest school and what a good resource it is.
William and Catherine met with volunteers who maintain the space and run activities in the park, including a carpentry workshop. The park has been transformed by park wardens and Better Start Blackpool into an area that dads’ groups, nurseries and forest schools can use.
Another beautiful shot of Duchess with a cute kid.
For the Day Duchess of Cambridge chose her Sportmax Long Belted Coat that she debuted at the 2015 Church Service. The virgin wool coat features a belted waistline, lapel collars and flap pockets.
The midi dress features a collar style neckline with front button closure, blouson sleeves and a belted waistline.
A closer look at the print and detailing.
She carried her Manu Atelier Green Micro Bold Leather Shoulder Bag debuted in January 2019 when she visited Dundee to open new V&A Museum.
Duchess is wearing black suede Pointy-toe boots that she first wore at the Christmas Party held at Kensington Palace for the family members of armed forces deployed in Cyprus in December 2018. Middleton Maven on twitter suggested that they could be an old Ralph Lauren style.
Catherine finished her looks with Kiki Classic Green Amethyst Cushion Drop & Diamond Hoop Earrings.
Duchess kept the cold away with a black wool scarf and a pair of gloves.
Next, we will see Duchess on March 11th at the annual Commonwealth Day Service.