Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Second Blackpool 1977 Photo Album 2 - Along the Seafront

The second entry from my 1977 photo album. In this we'll have a look at various bits and pieces on the piers and on the beach with a brief stop to admire a tram.

Taken from the Central Pier, this shows activity on the beach near the slade. As soon as the tide started to recede, the wet sand would be immediately claimed by someone with a deckchair, an ice cream van, a small group of donkeys or a boatman. Before the sand was uncovered the steps leading down to the beach would be so full of sitting tourists that anyone else wanting to go down had to either tread on somebody, or slither down the slope of the slade itself. It's a nice word - slither - I must use it again...

The ancient lorries used by the boatmen were a testament to their mechanical skills. Dating from somewhere around World War II, they spent all winter in the exposed weather of the Promenade, engines tightly sheeted with canvas. In the spring someone would come and lovingly whack them with a lump hammer and they would shed any new rust in a shower and obediently splutter into life... When they disappeared I felt as though part of my youth had gone with them, I had known them for so long.

Just swinging the camera round to the right a touch gives us this view of the Golden Mile Centre. If you follow the line of steps from the beach then just to the left of the top step is the green canvas that covers rows and rows of folded deckchairs available to hire for the half day or full day for the beach. For a bit extra you could take a canvas windbreak down and erect a little wall behind you, but with the prevailing winds coming off the sea all they usually achieved was a drift of sand after a few minutes that on really gusty days could build up to halfway up the canvas, until the wind died and it collapsed, sliding down like an avalanche to bury your feet, sandwiches and children. Dogs invariably went behind you to wee on them too which all added to the aroma of fried onions from the burger stalls on the Golden Mile...

Taken from the North Pier, this shows the Tower, with its top painted silver for the Queen's Silver Jubilee. The much-loved honeycombed front of Lewis's store is on the left and the beauty of the old sea wall with the symmetrical double staircases leading down from the Promenade to the beach is something now gone apart from a tiny portion next to the North Pier itself.

Another once common sight along the Promenade was the Twin-Car combination of a tram and trailer set. This was taken just south of the Central Pier. The street leading off the Prom behind the tram is Princess Street - the first street in the world to have an electric tram travel along it under its own power.

I think this is the Central Pier, but am not 100% sure. It could be South Pier but I think it is the Central Pier. In 1977 there was still a 5 pence admission charge to the pier itself once you got behind the amusement arcade. This required the employment of pier attendants, two of whom are saying "That chap's taking our picture...!"

We were walking along minding our own business when we spotted my Grandad and Doris, his second wife, on the beach. We waved and shouted but... nothing...

Absolutely fast asleep... But they weren't the only ones. There's a young chap behind them, legs outstretched past my Grandad's chair also with a long line of Zzzzzzz coming from him. Behind him someone is wagging a disapproving finger at the little lad with the spade - a tin spade on a wooden stick, none of today's plastic rubbish. She's probably saying to him "If you chop your toes off don't come running to me...!" which is the sort of thing Mums and Nans do all the time. Naventi's Ice Cream van waits for customers. Tubs of well frozen ice cream, filled from deep containers packed round with ice make up for the lack of any refrigeration. Early morning ice creams had chunks of solid ice throughout. Later ones had to be eaten quickly before they just ran away down the cone and your fingers.

Those were the days... Please note that suits and ties should always be worn on the beach - no riff raff please!


  1. The gentleman in the deck chair (with tie) is almost certainly wearing sunglasses that were purchased from a hawker on the beach, who would pull them from a large cardboard box dragged behind him across the sand. The hawkers' cries were always (in 1975-77), "Twenty pence yer ladies 'n' gents. Fifteen pence yer kiddies." …usually in a distinct scouse accent.

    Ex deckie

  2. Try Before
    You Buy!!


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