Blackpool's piers under the spotlight as green conference coming to resort
Sixty speakers from 13 countries are due to attend the three-day Sea Change Conference at the Winter Gardens between September 4 and 6.
The event is being supported by the prestigious World Monuments Fund which put Blackpool’s North, South and Central piers on its 2018 list of eight endangered cultural sites to share a $1m pot of cash (worth £748,000 at the time of the announcement).
The fund’s aim is to promote community engagement, vigilance and technical expertise as tools to protect world heritage.
John Darlington, executive director of World Monuments Fund (WMF) Britain, says in an introduction to delegates that Blackpool’s experience is “emblematic of the perils to coastal heritage today”.
Putting the piers on the WMF list, whose main funding partner is American Express, has propelled them into the spotlight in terms of government influence.
Mr Darlington adds: “Sea Change conference is the next logical step in the process of widening this debate beyond a single place and building type.
“WMF has been thrilled to work with all our partners on the development of this conference to shine a spotlight on the joyful contributions Blackpool has made to those who first thronged to the site in the 19th century, and the giddy delight of seeing those piers braving the elements and standing tall year after year.”
Among the issues which will be explored will be the impact of more frequent and violent of winter storms on the piers, and how climate change will effect seaside economies around the world.
Blackpool’s three piers, including Grade II listed North Pier, are all owned by resort-based businessman Peter Sedgwick.
Being on the WMF list gives the council more clout when it comes to seeking grants to preserve the structures. All three piers were built during the Victorian era, with North and Central dating back to the 1860s while South Pier opened in 1893.
The other heritage sites on the 2018 WMF list are Potager du Roi in Versailles, France; Grand Theater of Prince Kung’s Mansion in Beijing, China; the town of Amatrice, Italy; Kagawa Prefectural Gymnasium in Takamatsu, Japan; Tebaida Leonesa in León, Spain; Matobo Hills Cultural Landscape in Matobo, Zimbabwe; and Monte Albán site in Oaxaca, Mexico.