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An Unthinkable Thought Blackpool has been stolen. The land where it once stood is now barren. The only evidence that Blackpool had ever been there were the shocked residents and a stick of rock found at the spot where the Blackpool tower once stood. The theft of Blackpool was international news and put Blackpool on the global map. Postcards, sticks of rock, key rings, anything associated with Blackpool raised in value. The popularity of the story led to a dramatic increase in tourism. People came from all over the world to view the space where Blackpool once stood. Lancashire decided to build an exact replica of Blackpool fifty miles north and opened it up as theme park.

Barry Stafford

The displaced exresidents of the original Blackpool were invited back to work as actors in the theme park which at first they were happy to do.


A competition was devised. It was proposed that a new Blackpool would be built every seven years based on exact memories of the original. After seven years the city would then be taken down, destroyed and replaced with a new version. But, it wasn’t long before a dissenting group of ex-residents protested against this new version of Blackpool. They complained that the theme park didn’t feel like the Blackpool they remembered and insisted that large areas of detail were completely wrong.

Specially selected residents would be asked to compete to design each new replica as close to the original as they could.

Eventually Lancashire granted permission for the ex-residents to build their own replica on the land where Blackpool once stood.

A social system was formed where the residents would be given a different role to play in each new Blackpool. If a resident acted their role well they would be rewarded with a better role in the next replica.

During the building of their version of Blackpool in-fighting broke out over the design of the replica. Lancashire stepped in to settle the argument.

Casting agents for Lancashire lived amongst the actors to constantly watch out for authentic immersions in character. Failure to do so was seen as bad acting and would result in the actor playing

The ultimate role anyone could play was a designer as those playing designers were the only ones allowed to enter the competition. As the years and cities passed the actors of Blackpool began referring to each new replica as a reincarnation and became so accustomed to living in the many replicas that they forgot they were acting altogether. Although strangely, they continued to refer to themselves as actors. Their experience of time also changed. It was now perceived to unfold in seven year cycles as if it had synchronised with the biology of the body. As time went on the designs for Blackpool became less and less lucid until one day a design was revealed which made everybody gasp in amazement at its familiar and yet revolutionary appearance.


During the seventh competition a maquette of a proposed replica city was unveiled by a designer who claimed to have once lived in the original Blackpool. There was something unnerving about the design. The maquette appeared perfectly familiar to all those who saw it although they all felt that merely looking at it with eyes was insufficient to explain what they perceived before them. Somebody suggested it was as if the key to understanding this replica was always 3cm in time away from them. Everyone agreed. The design went on to win. Long after the allocated time frame of seven years had come and gone the new Blackpool was still in a strange state of having been built and yet was still in the process of being built.

It was as if this Blackpool was constantly shedding and growing a new skin. Although it was constantly being knocked down, a new identical surface was always there to take its place. Despite the fact that this new Blackpool was constantly growing, it somehow never moved beyond its own boundaries. As if it was breathing. This city had its own internal logic. It was so different to anything anybody could remember experiencing before, and yet, it was so familiar in its exactness.What had been built represented a new ideology. One not built upon stone.

The memory of Blackpool had been imperceptibly changed forever.

The Stolen City  

Blackpool has been stolen

The Stolen City  

Blackpool has been stolen