Sunday, 12 August 2012

Tourists For A Day

Yesterday we decided to be tourists for a day. We started off with breakfast with Gill and Grace and David and Jeannie in Quilligans and then whilst the ladies went shopping and D&J went off to do their own thing, I took myself off down to the North Pier.

It was a gorgeous day for being out and about and I decided to go onto the pier and take a few photos.

As you walk down the ramp onto the pier this Victorian Penny Arcade faces you at the bottom of the ramp. I love these places. They are bits of my childhood that I can relive and wallow in. When I was a boy and Mum and Dad took us to Blackpool, the arcades were still full of these wonderful machines, hardly any of which relied on electricity. They were all mechanical machines.

Most of the machines are a little later than Victorian, but many of them date from Edwardian times - 1901-1910.

Above, the Bryans Clock on the right is one such. A game of chance where winding the key after dropping your penny causes the big hand to spin. If it stops over a red line, you win. They hardly ever stopped over a red line of course...

The shooting gallery used tiny ball bearings to shoot at targets. They were fired by spring action, the spring contracted when you pulled the trigger until it was released as the trigger reached its full draw. Animal welfare would have a riot with these today - many of them had metal cats as the targets, which fell over backwards on a pivot when hit.

The North Pier never went in for the full scale amusements and darts and hoopla stalls along its length. It remained true to its original purpose - that of walking over the waves and resting in the sun. Just a few shop kiosks were to be found along its length and even those sold more refined goods. They no longer sell fur coats, but most are food related. Being on holiday obviously requires stoking up at regular intervals. Ok when I was a slim teenager - not so good now...

At the far end of the pier is a fairly modern 2-storey carousel. Of more interest is a smaller kiddies' roundabout with some far older items to sit on or in. I'd say they date from the 1940s or 50s. Western stagecoaches, rocket ships and train locomotives - engines as we used to call them.

I met up with Fran again and we took her shopping home. But given the weather which was showing no signs of reverting to the year's usual heavy showers, we decided almost immediately to go out and ride one of the new trams. They had started running in April and we had yet to set foot on one.

So we decided to play tourists for the day and got on a tram at Bispham, heading for Fleetwood.

I've described the trams in the previous entry, so I won't repeat that here. The people sat opposite smiled indulgently when I whispered to Fran "Ooh! We're on a tram!" in best excited schoolboy mode.

I gathered they were from London. They spent the entire journey moaning about how long it was taking. "We've been on this thing half an hour already!" he complained in a refined voice. She vented her spleen with a vicious (but refined) slap against the window, crushing a small fly with a satisfied grimace. I struggled to keep a straight face...

We arrived at Broadwater. "Oh, Broadwater," she exclaimed in a surprised tone, "It's lovely there!" Now I don't know which Broadwater she had in mind. I used to work in Broadwater, Fleetwood at the Nautical College in the mid 1980s and it's a nice place for certain, lots of houses and a couple of shops where the tram tracks cross the road, but "lovely"? A step too far methinks...

And so we reached the terminus at the Ferry. As we got off he stopped me and said "Where is Freeport?"

My surprise must have shown. "Freeport's out of town - you should have got off about four stops ago for there." The stop after Broadwater in fact...

"Can we not walk there?" he gasped. The tram conductor told him to get on a No.1 bus. We left them to it and bought ice creams from the large fish and chip restaurant nearby.

We wandered up the Promenade which is very pretty. The surface has a different coloured sinuous line like a river with tiny metallic fishes stuck to it that kiddies love to walk along and there are statues and memorials to fishermen who have been lost at sea over the years. There are a couple of lighthouses, one huge and one small.

We started to walk back and watched the ferry cross the River Wyre from Knott End. We stopped for a coffee at a pavement cafe, sitting outside, watching people and trams going by.

The latest female fashion for wearing tights under incredibly short shorts requires a restraint that wearers do not always possess. Like mini skirts in the 1960s and early 70s, the fashion only suits a minority. Unlike mini skirts, this particular fashion calls for a sense of gusset management, or perhaps selection, that, I have to say, causes several spectacular fails...

Ah well... mini skirts > leggings > tights with micro shorts. Times move on...

We had bought day tickets for the trams, this being cheaper than a single return trip. So to make the most of them we decided to ride the tram all the way to South Pier and went for tea to Pablo's Chippy on the Promenade.

The last time I was in there was probably when I was taken in by my parents with my brother some time in the 1960s. I remember distinctly that fish and chips with bread and butter and a cup of tea was two shillings and sixpence. Today it is six pounds and twenty five pence but you also get mushy peas and a choice of tea, coffee or a standard cup of fizzy mineral. You would have paid extra for the peas and alternative drinks in the 60s. 50 years on the price has increased 50 times. Which is probably about right. So with the extras this was darn good value. I don't recommend restaurants lightly.

It was clean, it was fast service and the food was excellent. As a bonus, the two blokes on the table behind Fran made it hilarious. Somewhat the worse for drink, one was trying to teach the other to speak French. So this is the conversation as it went. I swear I am not making this up...

"John Bower"
"No - bonjour..."
"John Bower..."

Repeat ten times...

"Try again: bonjour"
"bun jower?"
"Now try: je m'appelle Martin"
"Je propel Martin..."
"No... je m'appelle..."
"My uncle used to say that to me. He's not with us now."
"Was he French?"
"No, he went to a better place"
"Oh dear... well you still remember him though?"
"Yes... he moved to Torquay..."

Large versions of the photos: north pier, penny arcade, shooting gallery, bryans clock, north pier kiosk, roundabout fire engine, tram at fleetwood, ferry, pablo's cafe, john and fran in pablo's

1 comment:

  1. Love the vintage arcade on the north pier..
    Help save our seaside heritage,
    Please help with this petition, we are trying to get the law changed so that “all” pre decimal/collectable slot machine are free from the need of a license/permit, for the purpose of buying, selling and owning them please help if you can, all you have to do is sign our petition, we need all the help we can get.


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