Blackpool has staged a spectacular tribute to mark the 80th anniversary of Battle of Britain Day.
The resort has released a video compilation featuring two of the iconic fighter planes that took part in the battle, an Illuminations display that includes the lighting up of The Blackpool Tower in red, white and blue, and a performance by Britain’s favourite wartime group, the D-Day Darlings.
The short film is being released on Battle of Britain Day, September 15, to commemorate the heroic deeds of those who fought for their country and can be viewed at www.visitblackpool.com/battleofbritain
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.
One of the replica Spitfires, nicknamed “Holly”, is playing 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 with the fuselage lit with sweeping search lights and a dazzling laser show.
And it was in the shadow of the Spitfire 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 in Britain’s Got Talent, the group have emerged as the show’s most successful female group.
Then, as the Illuminations came on, a Hawker Hurricane flew over the Promenade with The Blackpool Tower and heart illuminated in red, white and blue as a tribute to the British forces.
Cllr Gillian Campbell, Cabinet Member for Tourism & Culture for Blackpool Council, said: “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 is 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 said: “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, that these highlights in history are not forgotten as the generations pass.”
Katie Ashby, lead singer and founder of The D-Day Darlings added: “We’re thrilled and proud to be involved with this special feature celebrating the special 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, as part of the famous Blackpool illuminations.
“Our proud affiliation with Blackpool started 12 years ago when the group was first formed with performances at various hotels around the resort. Blackpool played a huge role in the war and kept spirits up with a packed program of shows, making our involvement in this momentous occasion so poignant.”
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 January 3.
For more information on Blackpool Illuminations and switch-on times, please go to visitblackpool.com/illuminations