Tram Journey 1985: Sandcastle to Lifeboat Station

The photos in the section were taken during one or more tram journeys from Squires Gate to Bispham around Autumn 1985 - mostly 11 September 1985 if the camera settings were correct. Putting dates on photos was an option available on the more expensive type of camera at the time but is really rather annoying and can spoil the images. Fortunately this has been superseded by the advent of digital photography where the files include timestamps.

I have (hopefully) put this set of images in the correct order for the journey and have spread them over four pages so that page-loading times are not excessive.

  • I have added additional images for some of the locations to highlight matters of historical interest and how things have changed
  • The original photos are numbered and labels in light purple
  • Labels for the other images are in light green
  • There are links to move back and forth between the pages of this set of photos at the bottom of each page

The photo below was taken outside the entrance to the Blackpool Pleasure Beach. On the right you can just see the corner of Joseph Emberton and Halstead Best's 1939 Art Deco replacement for the original Casino built in 1913. To the left you can see the Blackpool Sandcastle which was still under construction. It was built on the site of a former open-air swimming pool and opened in 1986, a year after the photo was taken.

Trams 1985
1985 Tram Journey Image 1 [1]
Casino and Sandcastle
2021 Image showing the Casino and Sandcastle (by courtesy of Google Street View) [2]

The photo below shows on the left the circus tent-like entrance of the South Pier as it was at the time. On the right is the Lucky Star amusement arcade. South Pier was the last of Blackpool's three piers to be built and was originally known as Victoria Pier. It opened Good Friday, 31 March 1893 and in its heyday was considered to be the most 'upmarket' of Blackpool's three piers.

Trams 1985
1985 Tram Journey Image 2 [1]
South Pier
2021 Image showing the modernised entrance to South Pier on the left and Wetherspoon's Velvet Coaster pub which has replaced the Lucky Star arcade (by courtesy of Google Street View) [2]

The photo below shows the entrance to South Pier. There is an advertisement for 'The World Famous Andrew Newton' - a hypnotist. Checking him out I found he still appears to be in business as a hypnotist, and has his own website on which, among many claims, he says he taught the art of hypnosis to Paul McKenna. I can't make out the names on the main advertisement but the little 'sandwich board' advert is for the 'South Pier Show'.

Trams 1985
1985 Tram Journey Image 3 [1]

The next photo showing the ice cream seller was taken just a few yards along from the previous one.

Trams 1985
1985 Tram Journey Image 4 [1]

The next photo was taken near the end of Waterloo Road where there was a decorative windmill.

Trams 1985
1985 Tram Journey Image 5 [1]

The windmill seen centre-screen, which unfortunately is not very clear in the image, had originally been located near Manchester Square where it was a key feature of the Illuminations and sat atop public conveniences. It was moved down the promenade to the Waterloo Road location about 1962 and sat on the concrete promenade. It was put into storage when the sea wall was reconstructed but later destroyed when arsonists set fire to the Illuminations storage facilities.

The aerial photo below from 1949 gives a wonderful view of Blackpool with the Central Station and all of its platforms far right. The windmill can be seen on the promenade in the extreme bottom left.

Windmill
1949 Aerial photo of Blackpool from the South East. Image no EAW026230 [3]

The aerial photo below from 1952 looks along Rigby Road towards the sea. The windmill can be seen on the promenade opposite Manchester Square.

Windmill
1949 Aerial photo of Blackpool from the South East. Image no EAW047415 [3]

The next photo was taken looking backwards to South Pier which has a placard on the pavilion advertising Candlewick Green. They were a five-piece pop group who formed in the 1970s and won the talent show 'Opportunity Knocks'. The band continued to perform until the early 2000s.

Trams 1985 [1]
1985 Tram Journey Image 6
Candlewick Green
Candlewick Green album cover featuring their hit 'Who do you think you are' [5]

The next photo was taken somewhere north of Central Pier. Note the two refreshment vans on the beach and the pile of covered-up canvas deckchairs that were a familiar site on British beaches.

Trams 1985
1985 Tram Journey Image 7 [1]

The next photo was taken is a little further north. Note the donkeys on the beach and the caravan selling whelks and shrimps with the owner's landrover nearby.

Trams 1985
1985 Tram Journey Image 8 [1]

The next photo shows the conductor of a tram and is taken looking back towards South Pier. The ticket machine appears to be an Almex Type A machine; these are now collector's items. The conductor's badge number is 1187 and, given that the photo was taken 35 years ago, I would guess he would be around 55 years old now.

Trams 1985
1985 Tram Journey Image 9 [1]
Ticket Machine
An Almex type A ticket machine as used by Blackpool Transport [5]

The next photo was taken near to the end of Crystal Road. The Royal Carlton hotel is now on the right and the many-windowed corner building lined up with the right corner of the tram is now the Seaside Fish and Chip Shop.

Trams 1985
1985 Tram Journey Image 10 [1]
Royal Carlton Hotel
2021 Image showing the Carlton Hotel (by courtesy of Google Street View) [2]

The next photo shows the New Waterloo Hotel which was on the corner of Barton Avenue. Barton Avenue had previously been named Waterloo Avenue but it's name was changed at some point. This is now the Kensington Hotel; it still has the panel with the cannon and gunner in place.

Trams 1985
1985 Tram Journey Image 11 [1]
Kensington Hotel
2021 Image showing the Kensington Hotel (by courtesy of Google Street View) [2]

It is claimed that Blackpool took its name from le pull - a discoloured stream that drained Marton Mere and Marton Moss. The name seems to have the same root as Poulton-le-Fylde which was recorded in the Domesday Book as Poltun (farmstead by a pool or creek). In Norse times it is thought that the Spen Dyke as it came to be called, and which entered the sea near the location of present-day Manchester Square, was navigable up to the Mere, however factual information about this is sparse.

The Ordnance Survey map of 1847 clearly shows the Spen Dyke draining into the sea near to where Lytham Road meets the seafront south of Fox Hall.

Spen Dyke
Extract form 1847 OS map showing Spen Dyke [6]

In the mid 19th Century a new drainage channel to the River Wyre was constructed and Spen Dyke was diverted along a culvert built along Rigby Road. It is difficult to trace the Blackpool end of Spen Dyke on later maps but as far as I am aware it still discharges into the sea near Manchester Square - probably at the location shown further down. In 1893 parts of the channel could be seen in the area of Revoe, Great Marton and Hawes Side.

The next photo was taken at Manchester Square with Rigby Road going off the the right. The Manchester pub is just out of sight to the right of the yellow Butterfield's van and off camera. The chemist shop on the right is still a chemist. To the right of it is now The Crispy Cod fish and chip shop. The hotel with the yellow sign, which seems to be named Hotel Spa, is now the New Promenade Hotel.

Trams 1985
1985 Tram Journey Image 12 [1]
Manchester Square
Manchester Square from Google Street View 2020 [2]
Spen Dyke
Likely output of Spen Dyke near Manchester Square from Google Earth 2020 [2]

The next two photos show the Balmoral Hotel with the adjacent Craig-Y-Don Hotel. Major reconstruction or repair was underway and appears to extend to the roofs of both hotels. There is no obvious signs of fire damage so this may have been caused by a storm.

Trams 1985
1985 Tram Journey Image 13 [1]
Trams 1985
1985 Tram Journey Image 14 [1]
Balmoral Hotel
Balmoral and Craig-y-Don hotels by courtesy of Google Street View 2020 [2]

The next photo was taken alongside the entrance to Central Pier. This was the second of the three Blackpool Piers to be built and was constructed by Richard Laidlaw and Son of Glasgow, who also built the earlier North Pier. It was designed by Lieutenant-Colonel John Isaac Mawson and opened on the 30th of May 1868 and was originally called South Jetty. The name was changed to Central Pier in 1893 when the third pier that we know as South Pier was built. From 1878 steamers Wellington and Nelson ran excursions from the pier to Southport, Llandudno, Lytham, Barrow, Peel and some other places. The advertised Golden Goose Bingo no longer operates. There is an advertisement for the group Black Lace just in front of the wall of the old lifeboat station that had been completed in 1936 to replace the original one that had been built in 1864 at a cost of £170 according to the RNLI.

Black Lace recorded a number of very popular songs including Agadoo and voted one of the top five all time 'Best Party' songs, 'Best Holiday' songs, and 'Worst Records of all time' according to their Wikipedia entry. They were lampooned on Peter Fluck and Roger Law's satirical TV programme Spitting Image - which no doubt improved their sales significantly.

Trams 1985
1985 Tram Journey Image 15 [1]

The next photo looks into Blackpool's 1936 Art Deco styled lifeboat station which is unfortunately not visible on the other photos in this set. It was replaced by a new lifeboat station further towards Blackpool Tower in 1998.

The image below shows the old lifeboat station - apparently a fund-raising event was in progress.

Trams 1985
1985 Tram Journey Image 16 [1]
Lifeboat Station
Blackpool 1936 Lifeboat Station by courtesy of Pinterest [7]