Blackpool is a large town and seaside resort on the north west coast of England. The town is on the Irish Sea, between the Ribble and Wyre estuaries, 15 miles (24 km) west of Preston, 27 miles (43 km) north of Liverpool, 28 miles (45 km) northwest of Bolton and 40 miles (64 km) northwest of Manchester. At the 2011 Census, the unitary authority of Blackpool had an estimated population of 139,720, while the official Blackpool urban subdivision, which also includes additional areas of the town in other districts, had a population of 147,633. This made it the most populous settlement in Lancashire, as well as the fourth most populous settlement in the larger North West England region, after Manchester, Liverpool and Warrington.
Throughout the Medieval and Early Modern period, Blackpool was a coastal hamlet in Lancashire’s Hundred of Amounderness, and remained such until the mid-18th century when it became fashionable in England to travel to the coast in the summer to improve well-being. In 1781, visitors attracted to Blackpool’s 7-mile (11 km) sandy beach were able to use a new private road, built by Thomas Clifton and Sir Henry Hoghton. Stagecoaches began running to Blackpool from Manchester in the same year, and from Halifax in 1782. In the early 19th century, Henry Banks and his son-in-law John Cocker erected new buildings in Blackpool which increased its population from less than 500 in 1801 to over 2,500 in 1851. St John’s Church in Blackpool was consecrated in 1821.
Blackpool rose to prominence as a major centre of tourism in England when a railway was built in the 1840s connecting it to the industrialised regions of Northern England. The railway made it much easier and cheaper for visitors to reach Blackpool, triggering an influx of settlers, such that in 1876 Blackpool was incorporated as a borough, governed by its own town council and aldermen. In 1881, Blackpool was a booming resort with a population of 14,000 and a promenade complete with piers, fortune-tellers, public houses, trams, donkey rides, fish-and-chip shops and theatres. By 1901 the population of Blackpool was 47,000, by which time its place was cemented as “the archetypal British seaside resort”. By 1951 it had grown to 147,000 people.