Blackpool deckchairs folded away by council

Blackpool deckchairs 1998 The chairs have not been used since 2011

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Blackpool has sold off one of the traditional sights of the British seaside - its deckchairs.

The resort's council said its 6,000 chairs had been mothballed for the past three years.

It said holidaymakers would rather sit on the benches on its remodelled seafront.

The stock has been sold to Cheshire company Deckchairstripes which will be hiring out the refurbished chairs elsewhere.

Graham Cain, Blackpool council cabinet member for tourism said: "For decades the deckchairs were a familiar sight along Blackpool's seafront.

"However, over time they were used less and less until the service ceased in 2011.

Blackpool deckchairs 2011 Some councillors have called the chairs out of date

"The new design of the seafront means that people have more places to sit than previously.

The deckchair

  • Folding chairs have been found in ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and northern Europe.
  • There are also references to folding chairs in 17th Century inventories with 'Six folding chaires of crimson vellvet trymmed with gold lace' after the execution of Charles I
  • The deckchair became popular in the late 19th Century and was called a "Brighton beach chair" by some or "chaise transatlantique" by others
  • The term deckchair comes from the practice of sitting on deck of a ship

"We found that the majority of people would sit on the new benches or the Spanish steps and there was no longer a demand for the deckchairs."

Claire Smith, president of StayBlackpool, which represents the resort's hoteliers, said: " I would love them to come back - bucket and spades, donkey rides and deckchairs are part of the British seaside.

"You don't know if people are going to use them unless they are available."

Local writer and former deckchair attendant Barry McCann said: "The promenade will seem an empty place without them.

"I'll also miss the fantastic suntans I used to get when working as a deckie."

'Out of date'

The current stock of council-owned chairs was bought in the 1970s.

Deckchair capers

Working as a Blackpool deckchair attendant did not have the glamour of working on a fun fair - David Essex put paid to that in the movie That'll be the day.

Nor did it command the same money as sweeping the streets or collecting tram fares.

But with a guaranteed tan and an eclectic collection of eccentric workmates it was a dream job.

Those colleagues included a future opera singer, a male model and a Liverpool FC "Wag".

On a quiet day we would hand an unsuspecting victim a joke chair which was impossible to erect as the frame was back to front.

It was quite a sight to see a child, parents and extended family struggling with mission impossible.

Some thought it was a TV stunt, but one guy just lay flat on his chair on the sand and with comedy stoicism insisted he was perfectly happy as he was.

However, their future has looked precarious for the past 10 years.

Some councillors first called for their scrapping in 2004 arguing they were out of date.

In addition to buying the chairs, Heritage Deckchair Hire, which is owned by Chester-based Deckchairstripes, bought 1,000 windbreaks and 120 ticket machines. It has spent £25,000 on the chairs and their refurbishment.

The chairs are to be marketed as "Blackpool's iconic" deckchairs for weddings, festivals, outdoor concerts and other events.

Deckchairstripes' deckchairs have featured on TV programmes such as Downton Abbey.

Other councils around the country still hire deckchairs to holidaymakers.

Scarborough Council owns chairs in Whitby, Filey and South Bay at Scarborough, while Bridlington's are owned by East Riding Council.

On the south coast Eastbourne has council-owned chairs. The deckchairs in Brighton, Margate and Broadstairs are in private hands.

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