Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Third Blackpool 1977 Photo Album 1

I've dug out another of my photo albums from 1977. This one will include quite a few shots of Blackpool after dark, as it features both the Illuminations and a look around the Pleasure Beach at night. There will also be a visit to Blackpool Tower and some more shots of the Pleasure Beach by day including another shot of the building of the Steeplechase ride.

For this first article we'll take a look at the Golden Mile and the Illuminations on a busy October night! Ripley's Believe It Or Not Odditorium near to Louis Tussaud's waxworks was the first Ripley's to open in the UK. The huge red neon sign made an excellent addition to the Golden Mile at night.

Heading down towards the Central Pier along the frontages of the many amusement arcades in the seventies meant listening to the voices of Bingo callers, snatches of music and the mechanical clatter of the arcade games. As yet there were few electronic games filling the air with whoops and swooshing noises, not yet even the slightly out of tune Donkey Kong (1981) music or the white noise of electronic drumbeats. The simplest Pong tennis games and Breakout had been invented but were very scarce as yet. Most arcades had at least one jukebox to play music, but the videos with their incessant sound effects would soon see them removed.

Burgers were still a meat patty with only fried onions, mustard and/or ketchup to accompany them. You would have been laughed at if you asked for lettuce or tomato... Chicken could be had in a basket... Barkers could be heard shouting "Hot Dogs!" to which my father-in-law, were he out with us, would always add "and cats!" in a loud voice! You would see one or two actual cats sitting expectantly on the pavement in front of a seafood stall, waiting for someone to drop a tasty morsel or the stallholder to toss the occasional prawn their way.

It was a magical time for the Illuminations in the second half of the 1970s. Cars formed solid lines even during the week. At weekends the Promenade was made one-way only from south to north until it was found this was actually illegal. The Promenade and pavement of the sea front would be filled with walking couples and small parties. "Mum can I have a candy floss?" asked a small boy walking north past the Metropole towards the Gynn. "When we reach the next pier..." came the reply.

The weather made little difference to the numbers of cars. But the number of walkers would drop down a bit. A shame really, because the lights were and are seen at their best when helped out by a highly reflective wet floor. Well that's the first two or three pages of the album. Next time we'll have a look inside the Tower and take a trip up in the lift to look at the Illuminations from 500 feet up!

The photo album. Not a photo of Blackpool...

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