In 1900, the only vehicles the horses and carts had to contend with at the seafront were the trams and occasional bicycle. But for the past century and more, the seafront at Blackpool in Lancashire has consistently drawn families looking for sand, sea and funfairs.
The Pier Through Time
Blackpool North Pier: A Journey Through Time – The Time Travel Artist (YouTube)
Horses & Carts in 1900
Blackpool Promenade (1900): British Pathé (YouTube)
Seaside Fun 1917
Swimming, donkeys and barrows selling food are the highlights of the sandy beaches in this film footage from 1917.
But there are also men in uniform, reminding us this is during the dark days of World War I.
People relax and play on the beach at Blackpool (1917): British Pathé (YouTube)
1919 Miners’ Parade
Hundreds, if not thousands of people attended a mass meeting of miners in Blackpool in 1919.
They also stood to watch a parade of miners walk along the seafront road, holding a large banner and led by a band of musicians.
Mass meeting of miners at Blackpool (1919): British Pathé (YouTube)
And this is a clip showing the parade itself more clearly:
Demonstration At Blackpool (1910-1920): British Pathé (YouTube)
The Funfair in 1926
It may have been an age of silent films with caption cards, but already in 1926 Blackpool’s funfair rides were big, fast and fun.
With Eve At Blackpool (1926): British Pathé (YouTube)
Blackpool Gale 1928
A terrible gale hit Britain on 6-7 January 1928, with winds reaching 80 miles per hour.
In Blackpool, the pier and promenade were badly damaged.
The Giant Wheel survived, but unable to compete with Blackpool Tower it offered its last ride on 20th October 1928 and was quickly demolished thereafter.
WEATHER: The Great Gale: Blackpool scenes (1928): British Pathé (YouTube)
Blackpool Illuminations 1928
Horses and carts are now down on the beach, as big black cars swoop down the seafront roads. There’s now a funfair with dodgems and other mechanical rides. Blackpool Tower is shown lit up at night, along with the illuminations.
UK: LEISURE: Holidays scenes at Blackpool. (1928)
New Indoor Swimming Pool 1931
In 1931, a new swimming pool opened at Blackpool Hydro.
A crowd turned out to watch a fashion show of young women and girls do a swimwear fashion show around the pool’s edge.
LEISURE – Opening of Blackpool Baths (1931): British Pathé (YouTube)
Plane Crash Hits A Street 1935
In 1935, two planes taking part in an air circus display crashed into each other. They plummeted into the residential street, thankfully missing the houses by inches and thereby only causing damage to several roofs.
However, the planes were completely destroyed. One of the pilots died on his way to hospital, while two sisters in the plane passenger seats died instantly.
Wreckage of plane crash in Blackpool (1935): British Pathé (YouTube)
Municipal Office Fire 1936
The serious fire at Blackpool’s Municipal Office in 1936 not only caused the destruction of the building and hundreds of documents, but also cost a fireman his life.
And when you see the masonry crashing to the ground, it highlights how much danger the firefighters were in.
Fire in municipal office in Blackpool (1936): British Pathé (YouTube)
Cotton Queen 1936
Doris Barr of Bolton won the 1936 Cotton Queen competition, held in Blackpool. It’s an interesting close up of her at the end – no makeup, false eyelashes or even dyed hair.
Because it’s during World War II, the audience is mostly female, except for a few much older men.
18 other finalists also appear, each young woman representing one of the cotton towns, and holding a sign to identify which one.
We see signs for Nelson, Chorley, Middleton, Bury. Oldham, Manchester, Leigh, Blackburn, Accrington, Rochdale, and Stockport.
Cotton Queen Aka Blackpool (1936): British Pathé (YouTube)
Boomps-a-Daisy Dance 1939
Just like the Lambeth Walk, Boomps-a-Daisy was a dance which quickly caught on and remained part of British vocabulary even after the dance moves were long lost to popular memory.
Here it is being performed by dancers, including a man in drag.
A new dance craze in Blackpool (1939): British Pathé (YouTube)
Wartime Blackpool 1943
The pleasure beach, casino, Big Dipper and Noah’s Ark were some of the attractions on offer during wartime Blackpool, including for municition makers and other civil defence workers.
Mind, the pretend Lancashire accent is a bit painful!
Blackpool Issue Title Is Take Your Choice (1943): British Pathé (YouTube)
Booming Holiday Destination 1947
In 1947, the summer beach was absolutely packed with deckchairs and people. All the men wear suits, and ladies are fully dressed. It’s only the young who actually dress for the beach!
Entertainment includes buying cockles, and attending the ‘Freak show’.
Blackpool Issue Title Pathe Pictorial Goes To The Seaside (1947): British Pathé (YouTube)
Blackpool Illuminations back after 10 years, 1949
By 1949, the famous seaside town was receiving over 8 million visitors a year. It was one of the sunniest summers on record. And now the autumn saw the reopening of the Blackpool illuminations after their absence of ten years.
The Blackpool illuminations had been turned off 10 years earlier, at the start of World War 2, and in an era of austerity had not restarted once the war was over.
So to extend the tourist season into the autumn, engineers spent 6 months renovating the illuminations, and a crowd turned out to enjoy the display as it lit up the seafront.
It’s Blackpool No Longer! (1949): British Pathé (YouTube)
The narrative of bright seaside holidays has, by the 1970s, turned more pessimistic. Lancashire’s ‘windswept’ coast was one of the places British people came to sit frozen on the sand.
Notably, the guest houses were still very busy.
For the first time, people eat burgers as they walk along. Previously, you’d only see them enjoying an ice cream.
You can enjoy riding the rapids for just “a few pence”!
The Blackpol illuminations that year cost over £1 million. The special feature for the 1978 display was The Muppets.
British Seaside – 1978 | The Archivist Presents | #160: British Movietone (YouTube)
Wish You Were Here? 1987
First broadcast on 19th January 1987, popular TV show “Wish you were here?” visited the popular Lancashire seaside town.
Notices about bedrooms with a private toilet and shower were displayed as a benefit to attracted holidaymakers.
1980s Blackpool | Blackpool | British Seaside | Roller Coaster | Wish you were here? | 1987: ThamesTv (YouTube)
Wish You Were Here? 1992
First broadcast on 7th December 1992, popular TV show “Wish you were here?” recorded the family leisure facilities, and people enjoying their holidays.
1990s Blackpool | British Seaside | Blackpool illuminations | Wish you were here? | 1992: ThamesTv (YouTube)
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