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Map to reopen history of Russian designs

A Cold War map of a popular seaside resort labelled in Russian may be evidence of Soviet plans to invade Britain, it emerged.

According to military historian Henry Dodds, the map of Blackpool is believed to be part of a battle plan to land the Red Army on the town’s Pleasure Beach. The elaborate plot is to be revealed in a BBC Radio 4 documentary, Balalaikas in Blackpool, later this month.

The map, which is clearly marked ‘Secret’, identifies the town’s key landmarks in Cyrillic letters, including the water works, town hall, post offices, bus and rail stations as well as the famous Blackpool Tower. Mr Dodds, who is presenting the programme, believes the information is so detailed it could only have come from spies on the ground. However local historians are not convinced by the elaborate conspiracy theory.

According to the Times, experts on the Blackpool Illuminations claim the map was produced by the council’s press officer at the time.

At the height of the cold war, spin doctor Henry Porter hit upon the idea of inviting a delegation of Russians to switch on the lights. He commissioned a map detailing all the town’s landmarks to help them find their way around.

A spokesman for Blackpool Tourism told the Times that in 1955 the Russian Ambassador was among Soviet representatives involved in the big switch-on. The spokesman said one of the maps produced for the group must have been taken back to Russia only to reappear years later as a suspected invasion plot. The BBC claims the map is one of over 200 maps of British cities, ports and railheads produced by Soviet intelligence between 1964 and 1988.

The Blackpool map is believed to have been drawn up in 1974. Mr Dodds will present his case during the programme to be aired on BBC Radio on May 9.