Saturday, 1 September 2012

Coastal Clocks

An entry to Sepia Saturday "Using old images for new reflections"

"The Floral Clock, Southsea Castle Gardens"
I was surprised when I noticed how many clocks appear in small parts of my postcards but here is one which takes centre stage, a wonderful floral clock.  This was a card sent to my mother from Margaret who used to work for her when she ran a wool shop. My mother was a keen gardener and had a wonderful eye for shapes and colour so no wonder she kept this card. It is obligatory to mention the weather on postcards and Margaret did not disappoint saying it was very hot and crowded in Southsea. It was neither when I visited a few years ago, torrential rain and a gale blowing off the channel so a cosy coffee shop with the windows steaming up was our destination rather than a floral clock, if they still plant it. We were just marking time while waiting to go into Portsmouth to board the ferry to France so my next view of Southsea was from the sea as we arrived back in English waters and the sun was shining and the crowds were out
Southsea Seafront
as in this card of Southsea.  Today there is a small funfair but it looks as though the only ride c1905 is the one on the cannon. The Victorian seafront still consists of a long promenade, open green spaces and a shingle beach so ideal for a constitution walk so beloved of the Victorians whatever the weather.
"Ramsden Square & Duke Street, Barrow-in-Furness"
Heading north is the town of  Barrow in Furness which is where I set off from when travelling the 330 miles down to Portsmouth/Southsea.  The tower in the distance houses the town hall clock which chimes across the town.  The view as shown has not altered much over the years, apart from the introduction of zebra crossings, the floral display on the roundabout is bigger and brighter, and it would be unlikely there was not a car in sight. It looks rather peaceful there. The card was produced by Millar and Lang of Glasgow who published from 1903-1941 and in latter years hand coloured their black and white photographs like this. The senders (Ethel and Bob) sent the card from the seaside resort of Blackpool to the Ellis family in Nelson in Lancashire saying "Pleased to get your letter and that you enjoyed your holiday. Well we shall be pleased to see you both on Wednesday hope the weather keeps up".  The puzzle is that the card was sent in 1966, bears no relation to Blackpool (apart from the fact on a exceptionally clear day we may be able to see Blackpool Tower from Barrow which is on the other side of the bay).  Perhaps Ethel just used an old card she possessed, like a homing pigeon, it has now arrived back at the place it portrays.
I could not resist showing the postmark because by coincidence this weekend is  Blackpool illuminations big switch on (6 miles of lights) and the people who will be pulling the switch are 6 of Team GB's Olympic medal winners .
"Town Hall, Barrow in Furness"
The Town Hall tower complete with clock glimpsed hazily in the previous card takes centre stage in this card published around 1900.  Barrow's first library, on the left, was in what was described as an iron building, to me it looks more  like a tin shed.  The Town Hall itself is built of red sandstone but during the build in February 1885, with the tower three feet short of being finished,  disaster, there was subsidence and cracks in the masonry. The Borough Surveyor hoped it was no more than "natural settling" but he was too optimistic.  The builders had cut corners to save money, their tender to build had been the  lowest but the council had insisted on the local, and more expensive, red sandstone be used .  The tower had to be rebuilt (after many stormy council meetings and enquiries) but to reduce the weight it was built 13 feet shorter and came in at 164 feet, despite the delay it still retains its 1885 date stone.  When it was finished, for the second time, it dominated the centre of Barrow its only rivals being the shipyard cranes. From the top of its 156 steps a panorama of the town appears with views taking in (on that exceptionally clear day), Wales, the Isle of Man, the Lake District hills and of course Blackpool Tower, which was opened seven years after Barrow's, and is considerably more famous,
Photo Stephen Middlemiss - Creative Commons
but it does not have a clock on it.  This is the view never shown on postcards and is always referred to locally as the back, but is actually the front. 

13 comments:

Peter said...

Interesting post about a part of England I am not familiar with at all. History is all around us, you only have to look! Thanks.

LindyLouMac in Italy said...

I remember clocks like this when I was a little girl.

Bob Scotney said...

I thought I heard on the TV that it's 100 years since the first illuminations at Blackpool. Loved that floral clock.

Postcardy said...

I like the view of the floral clock. I have some postcards of other floral clocks and was considering using that as my topic this week.

Little Nell said...

I've had many Southsea holidays and day trips and rarely was it hot, but those floral clocks always seemed to be part of the gardens of seaside towns. I wonder if they still are.

Wendy said...

I enjoyed this tour by postcard. Now I want to see these places in person. My favorite picture is the floral clock.

Kathy Hart said...

The floral clock is wonderful. Now, I'm jazzed to walk around sections of my historic town, Annapolis, Maryland and look for clocks - thank you!

ScotSue said...

I am always amazed at the imagination of Sepia Saturday bloggers and the angle they choose to feature from the photographic prompt. I would never have thought of floral clocks, but loved your old postcards and as a Blackpudlian, I appreciated your reference to Blackpool. Edinburgh has a famouse floral clock in Princes Street Gardens, below the castle.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

So much interesting information! Great post, thanks for all of your hard work.

Kathy M.

kathy said...

Enjoyed the postcards - especially the colorful flower clock - but they are all spectacular when you enlarge them. (kathy at abbieandeveline.com)

Karen S. said...

Oh I so want that floral clock! Just have it in my front yard !

Christine H. said...

Wonderful cards, especially the floral clock. I also love your apt comparison of the card to a homing pigeon.

imagespast said...

Interesting post, Joyce. I'm familiar with Southsea but have never been to Barrow in Furness, until today! Jo :-)