In the early 1900s it was traditional for my family to make an annual visit to Blackpool
to see the illuminations. They would spend a weekend there in October. This would
be my grandparents and then my parents. They would travel from our village in a
convoy of buses and stay in digs in Blackpool – that’s what they called them digs!
Even though it was just a temporary arrangement.
I would be about 6 when I first made my visit to Blackpool to see the illuminations –
wow! We viewed the lights from a slow moving bus. It seemed to take forever but
there were 6 miles of lights to see and they were absolutely incredible.
When I was older my parents would take me in the school summer holidays for a
whole week. We would travel, again, by coach, a journey of about 5 or 6 hours
stopping off at a place called Brough in Cumbria for a comfort break. There seemed
to be hundreds of coaches either bound for Blackpool or returning to the North East.
And we would always always meet someone from home that we knew either going
like us to Blackpool or coming home. So they would recommend what to do when we
were at Blackpool and what was new. After leaving Brough the children would be
even more excited and be scanning the horizon to see who would be the first to spot
We always stayed at the same guest house as our parents and grandparents had
and our landlady was a Mrs Ackroyd, a very typical Lancashire surname. Our first
priority after checking in with Mrs Ackroyd was to visit the theatre box offices to book
to see a show for each of the nights that we were going to be staying in Blackpool.
We always booked for the first house performances and after the theatre we would
go on to the ballroom and enjoy watching the dancing and listening to the music.
My dad always enjoyed an early morning walk along the prom where he would
collect a newspaper and have a pre breakfast cuppa at the Lobster Pot. I would
usually go along too and if we were lucky we would see horses being exercised on
the beach and the donkeys being brought down from the town for the day.
I can’t ever remember rainy days. We would walk for miles either by the sea or along
the golden mile which was opposite the promenade. The golden mile comprised of
endless amusement arcades and gift shops and also shops making candy rock.
There were 3 piers at Blackpool and there was more entertainment there for both
children and adults. I remember particularly liking to go to see Uncle Peter Websters’
show and that was on the central pier. When I was older I was taken to watch
professional wrestling at the tower. I remember losing my voice for days after
shouting at the villains or cheering the good guys.
My first holiday without my parents was also to Blackpool. By now this was my
second home almost. My friend Jennifer and I spent the week with Mrs Ackroyd, we
were both 17. Our holiday coincided with the 1967 Labour party conference. Harold
Wilson was the prime minister at the time.
I have returned to Blackpool over the years for brief visits but I have not been able to
recapture the excitement of those early days.