Friday, May 11, 2007

It's a Small (but perfectly formed) World

Some time ago we settled down in our bunny-eared slippers with our mugs of cocoa and our Marmite on toast (we’re nothing if not traditional) to watch a documentary on one of these new-fangled digital channels, concerning Blackpool’s uniqueness of character (that’s putting it mildly) as the council bids for World Heritage Status -- a bid, incidentally, that we’re behind one hundred per cent. As the documentary unfolded we were, understandably, surprised to discover that one of the upper echelons of the Tower building harbours a miniature secret. Until recently – to be honest it might still be happening, but we’re not about to find out -- regular dwarf striptease shows were arranged for the grockles’ amusement…a bizarre form of entertainment, especially in this politically correct day and age, although not as uncommon as you might suspect. (If you don’t believe us, just type the word ‘dwarf’ into a search engine with the adult filter off.)
In truth Blackpool Tower, for reasons best left to those who manage enormous phallic symbols, has had an obsession with half-pint sized people (the correct term nowadays is ‘persons of a diminutive but comparatively accurate persuasion’) for the last couple of centuries.
It’s time to introduce our readers to John Lester’s Jazzing Midgets:

We’re going to get complaints about this, we know, but we’re just presenting you with the facts…we didn’t organise any of the shows ourselves. Not that ‘Jazzing’ (as erotic as, no doubt, it was) was the only cultural event of the midget calendar. Less frivolous works were also presented for the visitors’ consideration, such as period dramas and operatic ditties.

But the Tower’s obsession didn’t end there. The Tower Roof Gardens, originally one of the highlights of any trip to the edifice, once housed a concert area, exotic palms and sandwich snatching flamingos. Nowadays, of course, it’s the infinitely more refined Jungle Jims but between 1927 and 1930 the gardens were converted into ‘Midget Town’. Amongst the attractions were a miniature sports club, a town hall, a post office and a garage as well, of course, as the midgets themselves.
The question is, what became of those undersized entertainers with their oversized personalities once the craze for all matters midget had worn off? Please send us your answers on a postcard…preferably one with somebody on it suffering from an amusing genetic deformity.


John said...

Well, well... aren't we in rare form today? :0)

I'm sure this little tidbit of history will get some people steamed up enough to write. :0)

Maybe next time you should try the old 'show a picture of a tiny puppy with the words, write us or the puppy gets it' ploy :0)

Still, although it involves little archeology of the physical sense, this was an entertaining post, and one that reveals the hidden underbelly of Blackpool to an unsuspecting world.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...


Just part of our ongoing drive to generate a bit of interest amongst the more lethargic for the darker side of our local history. One of these days Michelle and I will have to write a book about the seedier aspects of the Fylde and Wyre. There's so many of them...especially as far as Blackpool's concerned. The world's an odd place sure enough, and all the more fascinating for it.

Anonymous said...

My grandad remembers this he used to pay to go into the "midget town" as he calls it often as a child as he was fascinated. He is 91 and has many fascinating tales about Blackpool