Blackpool’s Victoria Pier (it did not receive the name South Pier until 1930) reassured local residents by promising to hold only “respectable” entertainment without the open-air dancing of the Central Pier.
It opened in 1893, thirty years after Blackpool’s first pier. With no plans for a jetty, the Victoria Pier would focus on fine promenading, ornamental buildings and high-quality entertainment, complemented with an array of shops selling wool and china items, as well as traditional ice cream stalls and fish mongers. Other entertainment in the early years was a little more curious, featuring boxing kangaroos, bird warblers and wire-walkers entertaining visitors.
The Victoria Pier boasted a resident forty-piece orchestra and a striking ornamental building with minarets - the Grand Pavilion (1893). The pier was instantly associated with high-class music and hosted an annual Brass Band Competition. The Grand Pavilion, and later addition of the Floral Hall (1929), would see many name changes, including the Rainbow Theatre and the Grand Theatre, and would ultimately succumb to flames in 1964. Soon after, the South Pier Theatre was built in its place and attracted bands and performers such as Gerry and the Pacemakers and Manfred Mann. Upon its demolition in 1998, the Laughing Donkey Family Bar and amusement rides now occupy that space.
In 1911 the 900-capacity Victoria Theatre was built at the pier entrance, which entertained guests with motion picture recordings of pierrot shows and performances. The pier was renamed Blackpool South Pier in 1930, and in 1937 the Regal Pavilion emerged in its place - a larger theatre with the capacity for 1300. In addition to the ever popular pierotts, performers at the Regal Pavilion included Frank Randle, Hylda Baker and Jimmy Clitheroe. In 1963 it was renamed the Beachcomber Amusement Arcade until its removal in 1998.
Although closed for winter months, the South Pier has survived two fires and still entertains guests with rides, stall games, an arcade and the Laughing Donkey Family Bar continues to provide family entertainment and an unrivalled view of the Blackpool skyline.