Sunday, 23 February 2014

Blackpool's Night Time Postcard Fantasies

This week I received an email from that good friend of this blog, Jim Exley. Jim has sent images from postcards for use on the blog before and was good enough to send me one through the post where I had several other postcards, from the same source.

This week Jim sent me two images which had originated from the same photograph. As near as I can tell, this would have been taken from a point between Central and South piers and probably from close to the junction of Lytham Road with the Promenade at Manchester Square.

It's hard to take anything on trust with these postcards. I admit I am going off the size of the Tower as much as anything - the terraced rows of guest houses and hotels along the Promenade were very similar to each other. But there's no guarantee that the Tower was not added into the photo by the company artist...

Take a look at the illuminated tram on the left. The photo was taken in broad daylight - you can clearly see the shadows of the parked cars on the left. So the tram must have been added at the "artistic" stage. In fact if you look closely you can see it appears to be somewhat more narrow than the rails it is supposed to be travelling along...

Actually this postcard looked very familiar and a quick look through my own collection turned up another very similar version. Yes the colours are a bit different, but after a hundred years they are probably both faded anyway. But the paintwork on the globes on top of the arch is slightly different also, so the company artist must have had another shot at it at some point!

And then in Jim's other image, the artist has gone just a little bit berserk, removing the arch for a far more ambitious piece of frippery and adding a toastrack bus adorned with some rather spectacular illuminations of its own which may well have taxed the batteries and generator of a bus of that vintage...

But harking back to my comment about wondering if the size of the Tower was a definitive way to gauge the location of the photographer... Ah... it's gone... Interesting too that this version betrays a bit more of the photo's daylight origins. Right at the left hand edge is the staircase rail of one of the huge Dreadnought tramcars. But it is still being followed by the not-quite-true-to-scale lifeboat tram!

Here's the same photo of that lifeboat tram, from another postcard in my collection, but again it doesn't look as though it really belongs in this photo. I like this for a number of reasons. The laburnum tree illuminations were actually real - I can just (only just!) remember them from my very early childhood. Painted on plywood, they were a regular feature of the illuminations for years. The artist has actually created shadows for one on the left and one on the right to make it appear as though they were cast by the moon (which in my experience never appears quite so far north). Unfortunately, having done that for the two illuminations pieces he decided it was too much like hard work and didn't bother with a shadow for the lamp post in the centre or, for that matter, for the tram... The cars seem to have a more realistic shadow coming from the sun which would have been over the sea. But the direction of their headlights seems to suggest they were a touring group from the Continent. Dipped headlights should point left in this country!

At least I can say fairly confidently that this photo was taken just south of Waterloo Road, which joins on the right opposite the windmill which survived until quite recently. Thankfully this doesn't require me to rely on the size of the Tower, which has been drawn in by the artist after he celebrated (with a few too many tots) his success with the shadows. The Tower itself leans drunkenly to the right and the zig-zag line was added by the artist's 3-year-old daughter as her daddy snored in a drunken stupor on the floor...

And lastly, a closer look at the illuminated lifeboat tram, which was real and was one of two illuminated special trams, the other being a Gondola. Many thanks for the postcard images, Jim!

1 comment:

  1. Glad you enjoyed them, John, and always interested to read your critiques, which are far more detailed than what I notice - that's local knowledge for you. In the second image, the "ambitious frippery" one, it looks as though the Tower has been ineptly airbrushed out! There are more examples to follow as I continue to scan my collection. All the best - Jim

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