Monday, 24 August 2015

New Brighton Postcards

A couple of postcards sent from New Brighton in Merseyside in the early decades of the 20th century. The first features New Brighton Tower.

New Brighton's Tower was built just after the Blackpool one and set out to be better, higher, more sumptuous and with extensive gardens. Like Blackpool it rose from a building surrounding its base which incorporated a luxurious ballroom with sprung floor for 1000 dancers, a menagerie, shooting gallery and billiard room. The tower itself was octagonal in plan and 40 feet taller than Blackpool Tower so that when it opened somewhere between 1898 and 1900, it was the tallest building in Britain. Initially hugely successful, the tower remained closed during World War One and maintenance during that time was neglected so much that renovation was beyond the finances of the owners once the war was over and the tower was dismantled from 1919. The building and gardens continued but a massive fire in 1969 gutted the building and it was demolished.

The postcard was bought in New Brighton but not posted until the purchaser, Edie, had arrived home to Horley near today's Gatwick Airport. She wrote a message to her mother in Anerley, south east London which says:

Dear Mum, I arrived home safe and sound. The train reached Horley about twelve. Love to all from all, Edie

The card was posted on 3 June 1909. Unconnected but an interesting fact all the same - some three months later on 7 September 1909, a woman and her twelve-year-old son were stranded at the top of New Brighton Tower for the night when they missed the last lift down. They were found the following morning at ten o'clock and, presumably embarrassed, left the building quickly without giving their names!

This postcard has the feel of a genuine silver gelatin photographic print and is on quite sturdy card. It shows New Brighton Promenade in the late Victorian or very early Edwardian period. Not a single person without a hat can be seen amongst the many people walking up and down the pavement. Most of them wear what look like quite thick coats too, though the young girl nearest to us at the left of the photograph is carrying her coat over her arm.

The sender, only identified by initials which are open to interpretation, probably kept their coat firmly on as the card was posted on the second of January 1922 and it seems the weather was typically northern and rough! He or she writes to a Miss D Dugdale in Blackburn, east Lancashire:

Many thanks for the pretty handkerchief. I'm staying here for a few days. It is terribly rough, the boats are unable to land today. A Happy New Year. Love from (G.M.L.? F.K.L.?)

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