Blackpool - Raikes Hall Gardens

Leamington Road : FY1 4HE Blackpool - Raikes Hall Gardens : Map credit National Library of Scotland
The Raikes Hall Park, Gardens, and Aquarium Company Limited opened officially for its first season on the 20th of May 1872. It provided its customers with fireworks, circus acts, dancing, acrobats and a range of other lively spectacles. The grounds extended to over 40 acres and contained an enormous Conservatory, a Grand Pavilion accommodating 10,000 people, Blackpool's first public ballroom, a superb 300ft skating rink, aviary, monkey house, theatre, 17 bars, an hotel, and a switchback railway. At Raikes Hall, a special indoor circus arena was built to hold 15,000 spectators, with 100 performers, and 90 horses. The Hippodrome circus was the largest purpose-built circus hippodrome in Europe. After the circus's 8 week run was over, the arena was used for bicycle and foot racing.

The gardens also contained a grand boating lake, a horse racing course and cricket and football grounds. In the evenings, there were firework displays to attract the more ‘genteel' customers. Also, in the evenings, outdoor lights were lit up in the gardens, a forerunner of Blackpool's famous illuminations.

A liquor licence was obtained in 1874 and this increased profits tremendously. Following the drinks licence, there were complaints of drunkenness and prostitution and Raikes Hall's genteel reputation plummeted, particularly when fairground amusements appeared. In 1877 a grand Opera house was built.

Raikes Hall was the original home of Blackpool FC from 1888-1899.

Raikes Hall was renamed The Royal Palace Gardens in 1887 in honour of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. The Park was closed in 1901, the lake was drained and the site was turned into housing, Leicester Road and Longton Road are located on the original football pitch. The Raikes Hall public house, on Liverpool Road, preserves the name.

The bicycle track racing reports from 1886 refer to Raises Hall Gardens which was probably a misspelling of Raikes Hall.


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