Both Britain’s Blackpool and the Netherlands’ Scheveningen are seaside resorts that, though they may have seen better days, are lots of fun. And they have a lot in common: trams, piers, cheap tat… but which is better?
Beaches: Blackpool has a great sandy beach, but it’s a bit hidden behind a big concrete sea wall (for understandable reasons involving winter storms and flooding). Scheveningen’s equally sandy beach is easily accessible, features posts with novelty logos and its beach cafes are really quite cool, even if high winds can end up dumping quite a lot of that beach in your drink.
Schev 1-0 BPL
Food: both have lots of cheap places to eat, but the seafront Harry Ramsden at Blackpool will give you free chips if you get through the first lot, and staff at the Big Blue Hotel will congratulate you if you clear your plate. (Not because it’s inedible, but because they are quite generous.) The Dutch resort may lose out here due to its proximity to the big city – see next category.
Schev 1-1 BPL
Tram travel opportunities: from Scheveningen, the number 1 tram goes south past parkland and embassies to the heart of national capital The Hague, with attractions including the Mauritshuis, perhaps the finest collection of Dutch paintings in the world. It continues to the historic town of Delft, where in Het Prinsenhof you can see the exact staircase where William the Silent of Orange-Nassau was assassinated. From Blackpool, you can go north to Cleveleys and Fleetwood, if the tram cabling hasn’t been stolen, and visit the Mount, the market and get the ferry to Knott End. Nice, but the Netherlands edges this one.
Schev 2-1 BPL
Piers: Blackpool has three, packed with slot machines, shops selling tat and theatres for politically incorrect comedians. Scheveningen has just one, but it has an upper level which is a clear walkway over the beach, and a covered glass lower level (with a few shops selling tat, but you’re at the seaside, it’s pretty much obligatory). Equal honours.
Schev 3-2 BPL
Mechanised thrills: With the fairground-style Pleasure Beach, the Lancastrians ace this category, and get double points as a result. The awesome Big One is visible for miles around, plummets you at 85mph and 65 degrees towards the promenade, and sounds like it was named by a poll of Viz readers. The Revolution, Avalanche and heritage wooden Mobius-strip rollercoaster the Grand National are also great fun. Scheveningen has bungy-jumping off the end of the pier. Not nearly as much fun, and no chance of getting your parents to try it.
Schev 3-4 BPL
Iconic architecture: Blackpool has its Tower (now with glass floor of death, as well as ballroom), Scheveningen has the 19th-century Kurhaus hotel. Score draw.
Schev 4-5 BPL
Proximity to power: Scheveningen is near the Dutch seat of power, but feels a long way away. Blackpool’s seafront McDonald’s may once have hosted Bill Clinton, but the party conferences have departed. It’s a no-score draw on this one.
Schev 4-5 BPL
Interesting views of maritime industry: Blackpool can offer gas platforms in Morecambe Bay, but Scheveningen has massive freighters off-shore and distant views of the giant Europoort docks near Rotterdam – take a close look at the skyline.
Schev 5-5 BPL
Special attractions: Scheveningen has the casino which really should have gone to Blackpool under the last government’s super-casino plans. Blackpool has the Illuminations, however. Another score draw.
Schev 6-6 BPL
Conclusion: for beach cafes and views of sea-freight it’s got to be Scheveningen, but if you’re after stomach-churning rollercoasters and belt-busting meals, you can’t beat Blackpool. Visit both.