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Reporting from a depressed country

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Rust eats away at the beach, it attacks the iron balustrades of the northern promenade, the lamp stands, the benches where good British society sat to enjoy the spray from the Irish Sea. Even the gates of the Imperial Hotel, a Victorian edifice built in 1867, have been attacked by inexorable destruction and are nothing more than crumpled pieces of scrap metal.

The Imperial Hotel was home to Charles Dickens, sister and daughter of Queen Elizabeth, and Princesses Margaret and Anne. Winston Churchill had habits there and Margaret Thatcher celebrated her sixtieth birthday there. We took advantage of the indoor swimming pool, Turkish bath and gourmet restaurant.

Today, the swimming pool and Turkish bath are closed, the restaurant is no longer delicious, and the management avoids heating the rooms even in this rainy November. At the front, traces of yellowish moisture seep from the roof, an imitation column of antiquity has collapsed, and the “L” for “Imperial” no longer lights up at night.

The Imperial Hotel, Blackpool, built in 1867. (Tori Ferenc for “OBS”)

For more than a century, Blackpool, on England’s northwest coast, has been one of the country’s most popular seaside resorts. In the 1860s, it became a resort for textile manufacturers in the region, which was enriched by the Industrial Revolution, but fell into disuse with the rise of low-cost aircraft.

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