Sunday, 13 November 2011

Wish You Were Here

I've been struggling to find time to update the blog recently. Work is taking me around the country and I have a book project to work on at home that has had me searching for old postcards of Blackpool.

I'm indebted to Chris Wynne of Shrewsbury, a Blackpool enthusiast who I met on a Blackpool-related forum. Coming to Blackpool for a week's holiday he took the time to bring me 90 old postcards to scan and get back to him during the week and it was good to meet up and chat.

Having a deadline for the scanning I hadn't really time to read the backs of those cards that had gone through the post, but last weekend Miss Franny and I went to a postcard fair where I spent far too much money and came back with a few that have made me chuckle as I read the hot topics of Edwardian England. I have far more postcards now than I need for the project - though not necessarily enough to cover all the bits of Blackpool I'd like to cover... (This hopefully justifies to Miss Franny why I might need to buy more...)

Anyway, here's a few to savour!

Here's one of the Pleasure Beach, posted in 1943. Of course the photo may have been taken before World War II, as I expect some Air Raid Precaution officer may well have been doing his nut at the display of lights. To be fair, from above they may well have spelled out "Dresden Illuminations" to confuse the Luftwaffe... Message reads:

Blackpool. Dear Aunty, I am here for a week with three friends. The weather is not too good but we are hoping it will improve. It is not nearly so crowded as the papers say and we are having a lovely time. Love Jean

Weather may well be a recurring theme here... Though not necessarily so on every postcard, as witness the next!

When Blackpool was growing, what we now call Central Pier was labelled the South Pier. Until they were renamed, the building of a third pier further south meant that a less geographical name had to be thought of so this view from around 1905 shows the Victoria Pier. The viewpoint looks too far west to include the Tower, so it's been thoughtfully drawn in on the right hand edge where at best it's sitting on top of the Metropole Hotel or at worst in the sea... The card has been written but not sent through the post unless in an envelope with a few others. Message reads:

Dear Dada, Nearly finished hay. If you come on Saturday bring my white shirt, if you don't come send it. All write (sic) at present. xxxxxxx

No signature, but at least we know that either the farming isn't being neglected, or the writer was very very hungry...

Again this one has been written but presumably sent in an envelope to save money sending several cards. It has meant the entire back of the card could be (and has been) used for a message in which we find a certain amount of scandalous gossip...

I'd date this to the 1920s, the Big Wheel towards the left occupied the plot currently taken by Olympia at the Winter Gardens and it was demolished in 1928. I suspect that this is a daytime shot printed so as to appear night but it has been done quite well apart from the reflections in the sea where the wheel has been painted rather larger than the actual thing above it... Message reads:

Dear Elsie, Just a P.C. to wish you many happy returns of your Birthday. It is taking me all my time to keep Edith good. We went in the Winter Gardens Saturday evening. She got talking to a young man while I was tired, so I got up and left them. Of course she soon followed. He was telling her about a holiday he had in America, so I expect she will be going with him next year. This is perfectly true Elsie. I know Edith is telling you not to believe me. Love from M.

Edith, if you are reading this and can remember back - you must be about 110 by now - please let us know how you got on...

This card must have been taken home unused as it was posted sometime around World War One to the local butcher from Burslem which is near Stoke on Trent.

It was taken just north of the Metropole Hotel, the only hotel to be built on the seaward side of the Promenade roadway, just north of the North Pier. The gardens now contain a Crazy Golf course and it is one of a pair flanking the Metropole. Its southern counterpart now houses the town's war memorial. Message reads:

Dear Sir, Please send (?) neck - mutton 2lbs - mutt chops small roast of beef. V obliged. Your truly, S Spraston.

If any readers from Stoke on Trent know Thomas Shufflebottom's butcher's shop on North Road, Cobridge, perhaps they could call in to make sure he received the order?

And finally...

Taken from a viewpoint from the other side of the gardens to a view that now is occupied by the Lower and Middle Walks. This postcard was posted in April 1904 and, to amuse a niece, makes light of an event that was probably a little frightening for all concerned at the time...

What do you think? Kathleen and Maysie got lost this afternoon. Weren't they duffers? Aunty Kittie

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