Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Walking the Waterloo Road

Well not quite. I've not been on my way to the famous battle ground in Belgium but to a namesake a little closer to home. Quite a lot closer to home in fact...

Waterloo Road in Blackpool was one of the major routes to the Promenade until the development of the old railway route to Blackpool's Central Station was turned into an extension of the M55 motorway, feeding straight into the massive central car park.

So yesterday I went down to have a look at the road which used to be the family's main shopping destination when we lived in South Shore during the 1980s.

The main difference to the road itself is that the portion near its joining to the Promenade road is now one-way. The road has been narrowed considerably and car parking on the slant has been created.

The road name has been set into the pavement near the Promenade, which whilst it looks very attractive, wouldn't help anyone in a car wondering how far down the Prom they were... Street name signs are fast becoming a rarity - I suspect owners, particularly of modern buildings, are reluctant to have them "spoil" the sides of their costly architects' clean designs. Read the last sentence with as much sarcasm as you please! It is with relief and approval that I note the street name on the side of the Dutton Arms.

Woolworths have gone alas, but their building, with a bold blue colour scheme is still in use as Hartes. The building, in common with many of its former owner's premises, has these wonderfully huge windows, designed to tempt people to peer into the shop and be drawn inside and incorporates some large bowed pieces of glass.

Woolworths sold cheap and cheerful copies of more expensive stuff and yet their designers managed to do it so well that many of their designs from the 1950s and 60s are now fondly called classics and swap hands on the collectors' market for many times their original cost.

Diagonally opposite is The Ice Cream Shop - does what it says on the tin... Further up the road is the old Post Office building. Waterloo Road was the shopping centre for the South Shore community and boasted a large Post Office which, of course, is a Post Office no longer...

The Ice Cream Shop itself is an attractive clean white design with a large cornet of ice cream and a stick of rock, both in gigantic proportions, hanging from the upper storey of the building. It is the English version of the Italian Gelaterie, though there are a couple of examples of Italian ice cream parlours in the town - a tasty subject for a future posting perhaps!

The Victoria Centre, I remember as the Victoria Market. It was a crowded narrow-aisled place in the 1980s of the "up one side to the back, across and down the other" variety of market stall collection.

Presumably it dropped the "market" portion of its name to distinguish itself from the New Market which opened just next door, again back in the 1980s on the closure of the shop that had previously occupied the rather grand building with its 1930s cream tiles, which were a feature of 1930s Blackpool and can still be seen here and there all over the town. We've wracked our brains but can't say with certainty what the shop was before the market. Perhaps the Electricity Showrooms? I'm certain some Blackpool reader might know and leave a comment?

And so to Waterloo Road's first intersection with a major road. This shot looks south along Lytham Road to the rather decorative roundabout that now stands in replacement of the 1980s traffic lights.

Waterloo Road continues up to Oxford Corner, but this article ends here - for now!

Large versions of the photos: from the Promenade, Waterloo name, Hartes, Ice cream and post office, Ice Cream Shop, Victoria Centre, New Market, Lytham Rd roundabout

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