REMINICENCES OF BLACKPOOL.
The interesting correspondence in the Weekly Times on
the subject of this great summer seaside resort recalls to my mind that between
50 and 60 years ago I, as a led, was taken from Manchester to Blackpool by
stage coach. My father, son of one of the principal old Manchester stage coach
proprietors, followed the business, and at that time was Blackpool
Being favoured with an " out " to the seaside, I rode on the
box seat with my father all the way to Blackpool. The coach was a four-horse
one. Our journey lay through Bolton and Preston, taking most part of a day to
In after years I was acquainted with many of the old roads
in the Fylde district, but failed to make out satisfactorily our coaching route
after passing Preston. Of one thing I am, however, sure, that the roads were
narrow, up hill and down dale, in many places overhung with trees, exceedingly
roundabout, and occasionally crossing common lands or open uncultivated
country. I think we left Preston by way of Withy Trees, on the Lancaster road,
through Ashton and Clifton, and probably by Freckleton and Lytham, where I seem
to have lost the trace.
The coach put up overnight at Blackpool, the horses being
stabled at an inn which had the appearance of being an old country farmhouse
hostel, common in those days. I believe a member of the old Nixon family was
proprietor, called " Cuddy "—short for Cuthbert.
I well remember there was a company of play-actors in
Blackpool at the time, and I went that evening to see them perform the " Red
Barn murder," their theatre being arranged in the barn of the inn. There were
very few visitors at the inn, the customers seeming to be mostly villagers.
There did not appear to be more than a dozen rural cottages
scattered about the beach—no modern buildings whatever, nor any shore railings
or causeway, but simply the natural stony and sandy slope to the seaside,
similar to ordinary coast villages of to-day.
Several bathing vans were at rest on the sands, in one of
which I was taken out early next morning for a salt-water bath. When the van
had got far enough out to sea I was violently pulled out by the arm by an old
bathing woman clothed in a man's rough coat, on her head a chimney-pot hat,
tied over the crown and under the chin with a red cotton handkerchief, and
according to ancient custom she rapidly ducked me three times under water.
Then, shivering with cold, and almost suffocated, I was pushed back up steps
into the van, the door was shut and bolted, and the van driven off. Such was
the confusion of mind this process left me in, that when I got back to the
strand, the place being strange to me, I thought I had been taken across to the
other side of the water.
The coach began the return journey about mid-morning, and
after, to me, a delightful out, arrived at Manchester by evening, having given
me an opportunity of seeing Blackpool as a small, remote, sparsely populated
rural hamlet—the home of a few fishermen and (some people unkindly whispered)
wreckers!—now a large fashionable town.
Barrow-in-Furness. T. L.