Admission All Classes - A history of entertainment 1850-1950


Admission All Classes was a project aiming to revitalise the entertainment and cultural industry quarter in Blackpool with a series of events based upon research about the history of fairground, music hall, circus and sea-side entertainments. "Admission all Classes", was an ambitious application based on a partnership between the National Fairground Archive and Blackpool Council Department of Leisure, Culture and Community Learning supported by Blackpool's Theatre Group (the consortium of private commercial theatrical venues in the resort) and the North West Regional Development Agency.

The project presented a series of high profile festivals/themed weekends, underpinned by high-class research in the history of popular entertainments, in order to give greater impact and authority to Blackpool's tourism and heritage strategy for the next five years. This has now become part of Showzam: Blackpool’s annual festival of Circus Magic and New Variety.

Key venues, such as the Grand Theatre, the three Victorian Piers, the Winter Gardens, the Tower Circus and the Pleasure Beach, played host to a series of themed weekends from July 2007 to October 2008. Over the duration of the project a particular aspect of performance history was selected and repackaged in performances by contemporary artists from the worlds of new circus, variety and theatre. Specially themed exhibitions of material from the National Fairground Archive were exhibited at the Grundy Art Gallery and other venues such as "Seaside Entertainments" and "Magic and Illusion" for 2008.

The project was linked to the wider revitalisation of Blackpool as a seaside resort by improving the quality of tourism opportunities available and aimed to create the conditions necessary for a sustainable annual event of national and international significance.

The events proved a huge success with an average of approximately 1000 people attending each one of them and additional heritage tours and talks proving a real success with residents and visitors alike. Admission All Classes drew to a close with the Halloween Ball in October 2008. 

Admission All Classes Project website

Articles of interest and other resources:

History of Side Show Exhibitions and Acts

REF2014 Impact Case Studies: Working Class Entertainment: Economic and Social Impact on Blackpool