We still go back there.
For many years now, there hasn’t been a Doctor Who exhibition in Blackpool, yet many fans still return to the site of the original exhibition, as if on a sacred pilgrimage to once more reconnect with the past, and the special times that were had.
Yet the exhibition is just a ghost.
The side streets of the Golden Mile may look somewhat less than golden these days, and in need of a little TLC. Stepping off Chapel Street, through the entrance to the building in the footprint of what once would have been the TARDIS, you see a tatty staircase in a bargain shoe shop. But it is the same staircase, and it still leads down there – to what was once the entrance into the ever-changing subterranean world of Doctor Who. Today, those basement doors are closed to the public. You know the interior has been refitted, flooded, repaired and changed many times in the last 36 years. Despite all this, the original handrails still stand. The same ones that millions of eager fans’ hands clutched as they went down those stairs. The same stairs you and I, and many stars – and future stars – of the show walked down. The once light-studded angular overhead ceiling façade is still there too, and the odd imprint of a hexagon on the wall above still remains. All these little things have stood the test of time and the ghost of the exhibition lives on in them.
Gaining access into that basement area today, would undoubtedly create mixed feelings. You’d be going in with the knowledge of everything that passed through those walls – the Shoe Cellar staff are probably completely oblivious to this hidden electricity in the air down there. We’d pass our younger selves lost in awe and wonder – and that of every single contributor to the books. Whilst navigating around boxes of stock or shoe racks, you’d be looking up at the ceiling, for evidence of those criss-cross beams and any other joists or fittings that may have once been there, holding the exhibition together. Just like stepping into a room reputed to be haunted, the atmosphere would be charged with ghosts of exhibits past, and there would no doubt be a very strange feeling of points in time attempting to connect, before walking up the stairs to exit via the rear one more time.
Through working on two extensive books we learned so much about the exhibitions. In turn, we learned a lot beyond the exhibitions – behind every unique recollection was a personal story; sometimes joyful, sometimes tragic, but all channelled through a mutual love of Doctor Who.
It’s just a TV show and it’s just a building. But to us, it has always been so much more. The success of Blackpool Remembered and the sheer amount of interest and contributions submitted to both books is testament to this mutual appreciation, and the memories of a lucky few generations who got to experience it first-hand.
Our books are for you, and we could have only done them with you.
Blackpool Revisited will be available to download only on this website, from Saturday 28th August 2021.