Golden key unlocked royal opening of Blackpool Vic

The Duke of Kent uses a golden key to officially open the new Vic in 1937

With all eyes on the Coronation of King Charles III today, we’re looking back at the royal opening of Blackpool Victoria Hospital in October 1937.

The hospital had opened the previous year after moving from Whitegate Drive at a cost of £165,000 to build and equip. Work had started in November 1932 and patients from the old hospital were arriving by September 1936.

The honour of the official opening fell to King Charles’ ancestor, George, Duke of Kent and fourth son of George V – and it was a literal opening too with a ceremonial golden key provided by the architects to unlock the main entrance doors.

The ceremony at 4.30pm was part of a day of royal duties that started with “luncheon” at the Imperial Hotel, followed by the opening a new lifeboat house and an inspection of the newly-built North Promenade (works £155,200, land £8,800).

Pictures show the duke had time to visit some patients before officially switching on that year’s illuminations at the town hall “by means of a special electrical device”.

The duke speaking to a patient, apparently outside

According to the borough’s commemorative, gold-embossed royal programme, the illuminations were made up of 300,000 lamps at a cost of £70,000. More than two million visitors were expected to see them.

Covering five miles, the illuminations included a transformation of the Open Air Bath into a scene depicting Niagara Falls with 120,000 gallons of water cascading over the bath side each hour.

A keen airman, the duke died, aged 39, in 1942 when the RAF flight he was on crashed near Caithness in Scotland.

Posted in Home Page, NHS75.