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Blackpool presents spectacular tribute for Battle of Britain anniversary
Blackpool has staged a spectacular tribute to mark the 80th anniversary of Battle of Britain Day. Due to COVID-19 restrictions making a publicly attended event impossible, the resort has released a special video compilation to mark this significant date.
It features two of the iconic fighter planes that took part in the battle, an illuminations display that includes the lighting up of Blackpool Tower in red, white and blue, and a performance by Britain’s favourite wartime-inspired group, the D-Day Darlings. The short film, released on Battle of Britain Day, 15 September, commemorates the heroic deeds of those who fought for their country and can be viewed here
During the Second World War, Blackpool was one of the largest military training centres in the world, with almost 800,000 RAF recruits undergoing their initial training there. During this time, Blackpool residents raised funds to sponsor three Spitfires, known as Progress I, II and III.
A replica Spitfire, nicknamed Holly, played a starring role in this year’s Blackpool Illuminations display. In collaboration with the resort’s aviation museum, Hangar 42, the refurbished plane has been sited on a seafront roundabout, its fuselage lit with sweeping searchlights and a dazzling laser show.
And it was in the shadow of Holly that the D-Day Darlings gave an exclusive performance of classic songs before being invited to switch on that night’s Blackpool Illuminations display. (Since appearing on Britain’s Got Talent, the group have emerged as the show’s most successful female group.)
During this pandemic, we have lost some of our traditional events, but we were determined not to let this Battle of Britain anniversary go unnoticed
As the illuminations came on, a Hawker Hurricane flew over the promenade, with Blackpool Tower and a heart illuminated in red, white and blue as a tribute to British forces.
Cllr Gillian Campbell, Cabinet Member for Tourism & Culture for Blackpool Council, says: ‘Blackpool has a proud history of aviation, and a long and lasting relationship with the Armed Forces. During this pandemic, we have lost some of our traditional events, such as Armed Forces Week and the annual air show, but we were determined not to let this Battle of Britain anniversary go unnoticed. It’s a shame that we were not able to promote the Hurricane fly-past or the performance by the D-Day Darlings so as not to attract crowds, but we are thrilled to be able to showcase the highlights via our website and social media channels. Visitors will also be able to see the Spitfire in situ on the Gynn Roundabout every night throughout the Illuminations season.’
John Coombes, Chairman of the Lytham St Annes Spitfire Team at Hangar 42, adds: ‘We have been thrilled to play host to the Polish Heritage Hurricane Flight during Battle of Britain week. As we commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle, it is vitally important that, as a society and local community, these highlights in history are not forgotten as the generations pass.’
This year’s Blackpool Illuminations, which also include a tribute to the UK’s Corona Heroes, with a display of hearts and rainbows on the Golden Mile, have been extended by two months and will shine until 3 January 2021.
Blackpool Illuminations will shine nightly from Friday 4 September to Sunday 3 January 2021. The Illuminations attract more than three million visitors to the resort each year, with a display stretching for more than six miles.
For more information, click here
Hangar 42 is located at Blackpool Airport, Lancashire. Constructed in 1939 for the RAF at the outbreak of WW2, it was home to various RAF and Polish Squadrons, operating night fighter cover for Preston and Merseyside Docklands.
Hangar 42 has been relatively untouched since 1945 and retains many original features. The ancillary rooms at the side of the building have been cleared and restored with period features and furniture. The Visitor Centre has been developed to ensure that the sights, sounds and equipment of the era are brought back to life, to give visitors a valuable insight into the realities of fighting on the ground, as well as in the air during the dark years of the Second World War.
For more information on events, services, tours and how to donate, click here
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