Memories of Blackpool by Karen Brakenridge, Volunteer Assistant at Manchester Museum

The picture of Patrick and Annie Prescott, My Mam and Dad. They are on their Honeymoon in 1949.It wasn’t long until their family expanded, five years later my brother Kevin was born followed by my sister Glenys. Then nine years later my brother Clive and myself and Ian were born.

For my family and I Blackpool was, and still is, our holiday venue. We are from the North and love our nearest and best seaside host. Whatever decade we visit in, I soak up my childhood memories; new builds may be around and the shops may be different but the locations and attractions stay consistent. The amazing experiences of Stanley Park, Blackpool Pleasure Beach and of course Blackpool Tower still exist today.

My parents always spent their holidays in Blackpool every year at a guest house run by a Mrs Linley. In those days B&B was just not done, it was Breakfast, Dinner and Evening meal!

The following memories are extracts from a raft of memories that I have experienced over many visits to Blackpool. My experiences highlight the positives and negatives of Blackpool.

I remember travelling to Blackpool as a child because it was an ordinary double decker bus that took us from our local newsagents all the way to Blackpool. This was long before the motorway was built and I was always the one person in the family that would get travel sick. This didn’t change over time- it happened every year and to this day I get ill on the bus!

Mrs Linley had retired by the time of our 1970s holiday. We arrived at the Blackpool coach and bus park and we passed through a cafe shop lodge. It felt like some kind of in and out checkpoint. All I remember is that people were coming in to start their holiday, and people were buying in last minute rock and gifts to take home. I can only describe it as a time portal! As soon as you had passed through, it was like going into a new time zone.

Everything was brightly coloured, buckets and spades, swim rings, plastic marble patterned play balls and beach balls hanging from every inch of wall space. Then suddenly you stepped out on the Blackpool pavement you could hear the seagulls, hear the trams a little, and smell the salty sweet air, as well as the real donkey droppings on the road, due to the donkey stables that were nearby.  And of course the sun would be shining. It is fair to note that in all the years I have been visiting Blackpool I have never experienced any bad weather and I have always returned home sun kissed by the sea air.

Kids with homemade go carts used to earn pin money by transporting a heavy suitcase to your guest house.  Securing a guest house was difficult as there was no pre booking unless it was by letter, or by telephone if you had one. The holiday makers would walk round the guest houses looking for one that they thought had the cleanest front, checking the clean curtains and a weekly red raddled front step. However, the name of the Guest house was the deciding factor, if the name was the Tyldesley you could bank on it being full within an hour of people arriving from the town of Tyldesley near Manchester staying in it for the whole week.

 

“I love Blackpool and have loved it for the whole of my life”

 

My later memories of Blackpool include some recollections of the funny peculiars elements of my holiday memories.

Everyone wanted to travel up the coast on the trams, however if the tram stops had big queues taxis would pull up and do a deal on the spot. They would undercut the tram cost by half to take us to our destination.

First weeks of July was always North Manchester and Scotland weeks, however nobody wanted to take mixed currency in their wallets, I remember my Dad saying “go and get yourself the biggest ice creams you can get” so that he could get rid of a Scottish fiver. I was in the queue with a man who was Scottish asking the vendor to swap his English notes for Scottish ones. No one would ever take them back home in hand.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach had a wrestling venue and they would get a big crowd in to generate interest, then someone from the audience would say they would wrestle for a price. Everyone would pile into the venue to watch, not realising they needed to pay before entering so had to go through the no pay-no stay exit.

My brothers and I watched this for a whole week! We soon realised that the audience wrestler was very much part of the act. We did not say anything as we were just teenagers, but the roll up, roll up speaker soon saw us catch on to this, and thought we were local kids after watching him all week.

When we were little we would buy buckets and spades on the Saturday and then my Dad suggested we go on the beach on our last day he would look for families with kids who did not have their own buckets and spades then give them ours as we were going home the next morning, this annoyed my Mam once, but I thought it was a perfect thing to do as we had our own sand pit, and buckets and spade at home already… my dad has never done taking more stuff than we need home.

Although there is nothing better than taking a bag home with souvenirs from Blackpool in it filled with Blackpool rock and Cinder toffee for the folks back at the ranch.

I have many more memories but far too many to recall. Some people believe they have to travel the world to be on a holiday, but I disagree. I love Blackpool and have loved it for the whole of my life.