A YOUTUBER has been exploring the secrets and surprising history of historic locations in a Lancashire town.
Darren Edwards, the man behind YouTube channel ‘Adventure Me’, has been exploring Blackpool’s most notable monuments, such as Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Winter Gardens.
In these videos, he tells his 31,000 subscribers all the lesser known facts about the sites and largely unexplored areas of the sites - all with permission from the owners.
In one of his latest series, Darren has been researching the historic entertainment venue, Winter Gardens, uncovering 'secrets' and 'hidden rooms' that even some tour guides were unaware of.
The impressive building dates back to 1878 and has several venues for shows and events, plus bars, a restaurant and cafe.
Darren, 38, said he always wanted to explore the venue after visiting as a child.
He said: “It is somewhere that I went as a child.
"I always used to marvel at the size of the building and wonder about the history of the place.
“When I started the channel I remember thinking that I need to get out more and I need to do things further afield.
“Off the back of exploring Pleasure Beach, someone from Winter Gardens got in touch with me and asked if I had ever thought of exploring the venue."
His exploration spawned a nine part series, six of which are currently available to watch right now.
However, creating the series wasn’t always easy and required months of planning, research, filming and editing.
Darren, originally from Bradford, said: “I have absolutely loved working on it. It was a personal thing for me which linked back to my childhood and I love exploring.
“The amount of hours I have put into this you wouldn’t believe. I have spent months on it.
“I have studied maps, sat there for hours looking at pictures and working out where things are.
“I wanted to understand the building so I can understand what I am talking about and know I have done my research.”
The most popular video of the series has over 128,000 views and follows Darren as he finds a building ‘hidden’ behind a wall, a façade for one of the original buildings called the Grand Vestibule from 1878.
In the video, he said: “You can see the original wall of the building there – look at that window frame and the paint designs.
“They’re not sure where it is from or what it was but think it could have been an original frontage.
“Rumours are that this was part of the original Bank Hey House that was here before Winter Gardens.
“After studying maps, old pictures and the layout I am pretty certain that this is the frontage of the Grand Vestibule building.”
Darren said his favourite video to create was of the arena, formerly known as the Indian Lounge.
In this video, he explored what stands today and showed evidence that not all is lost of the Indian Lounge.
Many original decorations and features could simply be covered by a plasterboard.
He said:“I am reliably informed that they didn’t rip a lot of it out and it is hidden behind the walls.
“Look at the thickness of the wall, it is just plasterboard.
“Somebody watched my original videos and he used to be a fire safety officer. He sent me some pictures of what is behind the plasterboard here.
“They show the original features and decorations still here behind the walls – still here, dusty, but intact.”
He has also looked at other ‘hidden rooms’ at the Opera House, such as the original cutting room, dressing room and orchestra pit.
Darren, who started his channel as a hobby but now uses it to subsidise his income, said he is pleased that his videos have resonated with so many Lancashire locals.
He said: “My Pleasure Beach video is my most viewed and some of the Winter Gardens series have amassed over 100,000 views.
“I was surprised because this was quite a big number, as I usually get around 50K views.
“What shocked me was the amount of messages I got from Blackpool locals who had no idea about these 'secrets' and were fascinated.
“Normally I focus on the Leeds/Bradford area but wanted to venture elsewhere because it doesn’t matter where in the country you are from - you are likely to have visited Blackpool."
Darren said the best is yet to come in the Winter Gardens series and also plans to explore other areas of Blackpool, such as the Grand Theatre and Imperial Hotel, in the future.
He said: “The best is yet to come. I think there may be even more Winter Gardens videos in the future as there are some parts we haven’t been able to explore that are out of bounds and condemned.”
A spokesperson for Winter Gardens Blackpool said they enjoyed working with Darren.
They said: “Working with Darren has given us a fantastic opportunity to showcase areas of the venue often unseen and to showcase their development over time.
“Winter Gardens Blackpool is a truly unique heritage asset with a fascinating history, and we look forward to showcasing more content from behind the scenes in the future.”
Watch the full video series on Darren’s YouTube channel, Adventure Me.