His Honour Judge Derek Clarkson Q.C. opened the meeting at 1030a.m. and advised of three apologies having been offered.
Secretary Neil Ramshaw advised of the final call for the A.G.M. on April 24th with no candidates forthcoming as yet for Second Vice Chairman and two items for discussion under “Any Other Business” (Meeting Room–Mike South and Ray Coggan Memorial Meeting–Neil Ramshaw).
Programme Secretary John Taylor updated members on the collection for the previous Speaker Geoff Queen which amounted to forty-five pounds from members and his Speaking Fee taking the total to close to one hundred pounds which goes to Great Ormond Street Hospital. He also outlined the Hollins Hall coffee morning arrangements for Wednesday May 23rd, also detailed in his written handout to members.
Chairman Derek introduced today’s Speaker Ms Wendy Eccles whose topic would be ” I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside” and gave a quote about the seaside relating to the unnecessary volume of space taken up by water!!
Wendy then took her audience on a trip down memory lane recalling the origins and early days of seaside breaks/holidays and how adults particularly wore the same day clothes as normal even when on the beach. The initial attraction of the coast was the fact that if offered “free fun” for the whole day.
We were advised of Scarborough’s development as a resort staring in the 1600’s with the discovery of Spa Water by Mrs Farrer and Dr Wittie’s book about Scarborough Spa. The first spa was built in 1698 and was very successful with many middle class visitors coming from afar for weekend breaks. Transport was initially, in the 19th century, by way of stagecoach with railways providing a substantial improvement as the century developed. Blackpool became popular in the 1840’s and whilst the railways brought an increase in the number of visitors some concern was expressed about the rough stock of the largely textile workers arriving. In Blackpool three piers opened with a penny charge on one and featured what would now be understood as freak shows or lots of popular extravaganzas. Talbot Railway Station in Blackpool was established for holidaymakers convenience and we were told about bathing machines for use in the sea.
The developement of Skegness was touched upon. Accomodation was mentioned including big, old hotels such as the Grand in Scarborough and the Imperial in Torquay. Most visitors however went to the archetypal boarding houses run by the dreaded (and unfairly maligned) landlady’s.
Beach activities centred on Buckets and Spades, the Sea, Picnics, Donkey Rides, Gypsy Rose Lee Fortune Tellers and everything needed to spend the full day on the beach at low-cost. Later developments included Fairgrounds and Punch and Judy Shows which were introduced from Europe. Blackpool Rock was highlighted and Ben Bullocks credited with putting the letters in said rock. In 1879 the Illuminations began life in Blackpool. Holiday Camps made a 20th century appearance and Wendy told us about Cunningham’s on the Isle of Man and the ubiquitous Butlin’s.
Moving to more modern times the impact of motor cars as a form of easier and flexible travel along with parking difficulties started to impact the seaside economies which were further affected by caravans and their associated sites.
The talk was illustrated with pictures, postcards and a number of books which overall provided a very pleasant mornings interlude for the gathered members. Comments following the end of the talk showed how many memories had been stirred in the audience.
The Vote of Thanks on behalf of 39 attendees was given by Mike Jones.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY