BPB: Canon Dick Cartmell

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BPB: Canon Dick Cartmell

Postby Gary » 08 Jun 2009, 21:12

Three years ago I interviewed Canon Dick Cartmell who was at the time the vicar of Holy Trinity Church, South Shore Blackpool.

Pleasure Beach Blackpool was in his parish..

To date I don't think I've shared the interview with readers of Joyland Books..

Until now that is..

Try to keep in mind that the interview was carried out in 2006 before the casino announcements..

Canon Dick Cartmell: A Life in the Day of: (2006)

Before being called to the ministry Dick taught PE and special needs children for 12 years. In 1977 he left teaching and had 24 years of ministry at housing estates in Clayton Brook and Blackburn.

He moved from his last parish in 2003 and (as at 2006) is guiding the future of Holy Trinity in South Shore.

He enjoys all sports, music and walking - supporting Blackpool FC is "a regular punishment"

What specifically is your role at Pleasure Beach Blackpool?

I walk around regularly in the season (less regularly in winter) and chat to staff and visitors.

I'm available for private talks or prayer and visit staff who might be in hospital.

We organise 2 major services each season for staff at the opening and closing of the season. Over 100 people attend each. A local school choir comes along to encourage our singing.

I work for noone - except God! So no pay gives me independence and flexibility.

Is there actually a church on site and do you conduct the services there?

No. I would like very much to have services somewhere on the park, particularly for staff but so far this has not been possible.

I think the chaplaincy could develop a lot more - given the time and commitment. I believe the staff would welcome quiet times one lunchtime / discussion time etc etc...

Many workers use Holy Trinity to pray on their way to work and we welcome that connection.

Do you know when the Church first linked in with the park and what were the circumstances?

I think in 1993 Rev. Graham Rainford did a great job opening up the chaplaincy.

Have you ever offered or been asked to bless any of the rides?


Have you ever carried out any baptisms, marriages or spreading of ashes at the park?


It's amazing and amusing when marriages are blessed on the Grand National. I'm expected to pray for them and then myself as I have to go round as well! - Urgh!!

Any stories or anecdotes that you can share?

Seeing me chatting to people before they go on the rides I think makes them very nervous - Am I there for the last rites? :-)

Staff share very personal things with me and trust me to hold that information.

I build up real relationships.

I help overseas workers who are finding life difficult in Blackpool.

I have the mickey taken out of me and the church by staff but I enjoy the daily banter: waiting for the blushing apology when an F* or a B* word slips out!!

Do you ever get to ride any of the rides and if so which is your favourite?

I presume I can - I've never really asked.

I do love the Log Flume and Grand National

The dodgems and horse roundabout are lovely and remind me of my childhood.

Are there any rides you would never go on?

The Big One, Big Dipper and The Revolution - I've no stomach for those.

Wouldn't you feel closer to God if you went on The Big One though :-)

The Big One! - No Thank You!

My bishop went on The Big One and it literally took him a week to recover!

I suppose I wouldn't mind sitting in the box at the top of the lifthill and ask as the punters went by ready for the big drop: "Now do you believe in God?"

2004 was a very sad time for the park with the deaths of Sir Geoffrey Thompson and his mother Mrs L D Thompson. I guess the church had a significant role to play at this time..?

Both funerals were held at Holy trinity. They attracted over 2000 people: 1000 in church, 500 in the church hall and 500 people at The Pleasure Beach.

Hundreds of people lined the streets.

They were both very moving occasions - and being so close together made it a great trial for the family.

A huge chunk of Blackpool's history was lost over that time.

Many family friends spoke and took part in the services.

Some of the stories they told were hilarious.

A violinist from one of the shows played a haunting melody - It was all very moving.

Sir Geoffrey and his mother were great supporters of the town and visionaries in their chosen field.

You never get over such a loss but you learn to cope with it.

..And of Blackpool's future?

I'm not altogether sure we should put all our eggs in the one basket of casino culture.

We need to use Blackpool's gifts a lot more.

Sand. Sea. Sunsets.

The place has become tacky and downbeat.

We need investment in people.

Casinos are there to make huge profits. If it works - Great!

If not - I'm very fearful for the future.

We are all forever trying to make sense of the world.

Spirituality is much needed now.


- Rev. Dick Cartmell retired in June 2008.
Please pass through the turnstiles if you are riding again.
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