Glimpse history through old images of Southport, a seaside town in North West England.
World War 1 Hospital
During the Great War (later known as World War I), many emergency hospitals and recouperation centres had to be opened for the huge number of wounded soldiers returning to the UK for treatment.
Southport had long been built up on its reputation as a place for people to recouperate, so a new VAD – Voluntary Aid Detachment hospital – was opened.
The opening ceremony was well attended and overseen by the Mayor.
There’s a wooden building with large windows, in which we can see a line of beds ready for some patients.
Hospital V.A.D Opened By Mayor – Southport (1914-1918) – British Pathé on YouTube
This second reel shows some of the men to benefit from a stay at the VAD.
Mayor Of Southport Opens Vad Hospital Aka Wounded Soldiers At Veterans’ Hospital (1914-1918) – British Pathé on YouTube
Corporal Holmes was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Huge numbers of people turned out to watch the events at the Town Hall. If this is Frederick William Holmes VC (15 September 1889 – 22 October 1969) then he was from London and presumably speaking around the country to support recruitment drives.
Cpl. Holmes V.C. Honoured (1914-1918)- British Pathé on YouTube
World War I Charity Fete
Note the number of wounded soldiers seen in this silent footage of a charity fete.
Southport’s Charity Fete (1918-1920) – British Pathé on YouTube
1925 Beach Racing
Southport’s sands hosted motorbike and car racing events back in the 1920s. It drew in large numers of people.
Motor racing on the sands at Southport (1925) – British Pathé on YouTube
1920s Theatre Fire
This silent footage captures the charred remains of the theatre following a devastating fire. It seems to be the Opera House, the week they were perfoming ‘The Broken Melody’.
At the end we see see some of the nearby buildings including the Scala, which has an old fashioned fire engine parked outside.
Fire – Southport (1920-1929) – British Pathé on YouTube
Princess Visits 1929
The Southport’s Mayor and dignitaries came out to the front of the Town Hall on the east side of Lord Street to welcome the Princess Helena Victoria, a grand-daughter of Queen Victoria.
ROYAL: Princess Helena Victorias visit to Southport (1929) – British Pathé on YouTube
Southport Baths Open 1930
A selection of pretty young (some seem very young) women in bathing suits was paraded for the cameras and crowds as the Mayor came to open the new outdoor swimming pool.
Southport Baths opened by Lord Mayor and display of mannequins in swimsuits (1930) – British Pathé on YouTube
Donkey Racing 1936
Lots of well dressed people took part in the donkey races set up for the amusement of the holiday makers.
Southport (1936) – British Pathé on YouTube
1960s Model Village
Mr. T. F. Dobbins, designer of ‘The Land of the Little People’ was filmed alongside Bill Dutton, possibly Bill Rimmer, a young Barry Sutton, and Charles Ellison as they built and maintained the miniature world.
Model Villages (1962) – British Pathé on YouTube
Extract from ‘A guide to Southport, North Meols‘ by Thomas Kirkland Glazebrook
Published in 1825
THE COAST off Formby , Southport , and Lytham , is probably
as dangerous , as any round the kingdom . The banks run in
a northwesterly direction from Southport , for at least six miles ,
and are so situated , as to render the navigation difficult even
to the natives , but impracticable to strangers . Hence SHIP
WRECKS have been very frequent . It is however extremely
gratifying to add , that they are not now so much so , owing ,
in some measure , to the increased number of lights in the
Liverpool Channel , but more especially to the admirable pro
visions of the Marine Fund Society .
With a coming in tide , accompanied by a strong westerly
wind , it is almost impossible for boats to get off , or live in the
sea . I was assured by a gentleman residing in Southport ,
who is fully competent to give an opinion , that , notwith
standing this , he has been witness to efficient assistance
being rendered to vessels in distress , under the most appalling
circumstances ; -and , at times , when some of the boldest sea
men would have shrunk from the attempt .
It not unfrequently happens that these accidents occur in
the night time , in very hazy weather , -or , at low tide . – In
the latter case , it is necessary to take boats in carts , over the
sands , down to low water mark , before any assistance can be
attempted . Had not this been the practice , the loss of hun
dreds of lives more than are recorded , must have been the
A few years ago , I had the pleasure of meeting the
deservedly celebrated Captain Manby , to whom I mentioned
the disasters , which , at that time , so frequently occurred on
the coast . The nature of the shore is , I fear , however , such
as to preclude the probability of his humane inventions suc
ceeding . In most instances the vessel gets on a bank , or is
wrecked , six miles off ; -beyond the range of any mortar .
Nothing can therefore be done , either for her , or the crew ,
but according to the method adopted by those who are perfectly
acquainted with the banks , and all their hidden dangers and
When the Captain is obstinate , he increases the danger of
losing his ship . When the crews of vessels take to their own
boats , and disobey the directions of the Southport Pilots ,
relying on their own skill , their jeopardy is tenfold greater ,
and their perishing , almost inevitable .
The following ” List of Shipwrecks , ” was made out , by
THOMAS JACKSON , RICHARD BALL , and Peter Ball ,
from memory . Men , who have often fearlessly risked their
own lives , to save the lives and property of their fellow crea
tures . Thomas Jackson has been a Pilot 17 years , and his
skill is undoubted . Richard , and Peter Ball , are also , ex
perienced boatmen . What renders the account more valuable ,
is , that , either one or more of the three were present on every
trying occasion .
All the Boatmen at Southport are well acquainted with the
coast , and they have , frequently , rendered most essential
service , to vessels and crews in distress .
A LIST of VESSELS WRECKED OFF SOUTHPORT
N. B. V. t . I. ” Vessel totally lost . “
1786. 1. The Castle CREVEY , full Cargo , from Liverpool . V. t . 1. Crew saved .
1790. 2. A Sloop , in ballast . V. t . 1. Crew saved .
1792. 3. Ditto , laden with Oats . ditto . ditto .
1792. 4. Ditto, laden with Herrings , for Holyhead . V. t . 1 . three of the Crew drowned .
1792. 5. Ditto, in ballast. V.t.l two of the Crew, and a lady and child drowned. The Captain swam ashore.
1794 . 6. A Brig , laden with Figs . V. t . 1. Crew saved .
1794. 7. The Queen Packet , belonging to Parkgate . V. t . 1 . Crew and passengers saved .
1794. 8. A Sloop , from Wales . V. t . 1. Crew drowned .
1797. 9. The Brig HENRY , laden with Rum and Sugar , from the West Indies. V.t.l. Crew saved .
1797. 10. A Sloop. V.t.l. Crew saved.
1799. 11. The Ship TYSON , laden with Rum and Sugar , from the West Indies. V.t.l. Crew saved . Cut her masts at sea.
1800. 12. A Swedish Brig . V. t . 1. Crew saved.
1800. 13. The Ship ANN , for Liverpool . V. t . 1. Crew saved in their own boats , assisted by the Southport boatmen.
1804. 14. A large Ship , Captain Jackson , from Whitehaven . V. t . I. Crew saved by their own boats . This vessel upset .
1806. 15. A Brig , from the West Indies . V. t . l . Crew saved .
1806. 16. A large American Ship , laden with Cotton and Rice. V. t . I. Crew saved by their own boats . This vessel sunk before she reached the sands .
1807. 17. A large Ship , The FLETCHER , laden with Oil , Sugar and Coffee . V. t . 1. Crew drowned . This misfortune took place on a dark night , and there was no intimation of the wreck , till part of the Cargo floated ashore with the morning’s tide .
1809. 18. The Brig GRIFFIN , Captain Ball , from Falmouth . V. t . I. The Captain , his wife and child , and five of the Crew drowned , -two saved .
1809. 19. A Sloop . V. t . 1. Crew drowned .
1809. 20. The Brig BETSEY . V. t . 1. Crew saved .
1810. 21. A Brig , laden with Provisions for the army in Spain . V. t . 1. One man drowned , the rest saved . This was a dreadful case . One of the Southport boatmen was drowned . Pilot Jackson and two others clung to the mast which fell overboard , and their preservation was miraculous .
1810. 22. A Spanish Brig, laden with Timber, for Liverpool. V. t . 1. Three of the Crew drowned – five saved with Pilot Jackson .
1811. 23. The Ship MINERVA , laden with Cotton . V. t . I. Crew saved .
1811. 24. A Schooner , laden with Provisions and Oil , from St. John’s . V. t , 1. Crew saved .
1814. 25. The Ship TOM , General Cargo , Machinery , & c . for Demerara . V.t.1 . Fourteen of the Crew saved : -four saved on a raft on which all had got . It sunk , when the fourteen above named were taken up by the Southport boats , and rescued from their perilous situation .
The list continues in a similar vein, to a total of 48 vessels. A second list, of vessels saved in the same area, totals 43 vessels. You can read this book online for free.