Friday, 8 March 2013

Piering Back in Time

This week's Sepia Saturday's prompt is a steamer on the water in the southern hemisphere and a photo with writing on it
"Going for a Sail, Morecambe"
 so I take you sailing in the northern hemisphere.  From the flags on Central Pier, the well wrapped spectators and the run of the tide I would guess you could get up a good few knots up skimming across Morecambe Bay on the day of the photograph.

As you see I liked this view so much I bought it twice however this looks like a beautiful summer's day, warm enough to encourage paddling. The Central Pier was opened in 1869 and enlarged in the 1870s which made it  ideal for steamers to call in (this part of the coast was a popular with people sailing on pleasure steamers calling in at various destinations).  The pavilion shown was added in 1897/8 and its ornate nature gained it the nickname "the Taj Mahal of the North", it would be destroyed by fire on 31st July 1933 and even that was quite a draw - the crowds came to watch its demise. A new 2000 seat pavilion was built, a café and an open air roller skating park. All those things that seaside resorts were popular for, ballroom dancing, music, classical concerts and comedy were offered here at the new pavilion . The pier was closed in 1986 after decking collapsed at the seaward end and a fire in 1987 damaged the shore end.  The owner was told to upgrade in 1989 but the council condemned and demolished it in 1992.  All this would be long in the future when the card was sent
 on 27th July 1908 saying "The weather is lovely send Annie and Fred by the next train".  The weather that July was especially warm so I imagine that Annie and Fred would enjoy receiving the message. The addressee Mrs Hilton's husband Samuel's  job is registered as 'Herald Varnisher', I have no idea what that is but is sounds a niche occupation. The Annie mentioned in the postcard would become a cotton weaver and marry in 1921.

[Update thanks to  Scriptor Senex's information in the comments.  The job is not varnishing a passing herald as he carries his message but a Heald Varnisher an occupation of the textile mills.  It is part of a weaving loom, after knitting the healds were varnished and put in a special oven.  See here ]

I have a soft spot for Morecambe because I spent some happy times at the seaside there as a child and I too arrived by train.  I don't remember the piers, either this central one or the West End Pier which was washed away after a storm in 1978 but a vividly remember the donkeys and riding them up and down the beach.  There is one water structure that survives which probably enforces that biblical admonition to build upon rock
The Stone Jetty with the paddle steamer TSS Minden departing for Blackpool in the mid 1930s.  The Minden was operated for five seasons starting in 1933 by the newly formed Blackpool Pleasure Steamers,  in 1938 she was sold for breaking up in Preston, the golden era of pleasure steamers on the Lancashire coast was at an end.

The Stone Jetty is the remains of the original harbour that was built around 1853 the reason for the original goods railway line being built which later that century would eventually bring the pleasure seekers..  I think boating pools are quite rare today although I did spend a happy time licking my ice cream and watching small yachts being sailed on one in Suffolk last year.  Today the Stone Jetty is still popular, there is a café by the lighthouse and of course it is THE place to lean against the railings at the end and gaze at the Lakeland hills across the water. Instead of the boating pool and an anchor there are a series of artist inspired pavement games, a inset compass and stone cormorants sitting on the railings.    

24 comments:

Wendy said...

I would love to have been a visitor at that Pavilion in its heyday.

Brett Payne said...

Nice to see the Stone Jetty survives. That pavilion on the Central Pier is certainly very impressive. What a shame that so many of these pier end attractions from yestreyear have been destroyed by fire.

Liz Needle said...

I agree with Wendy. I would love to have visited some of these seaside resorts in their heyday. I have heard them mentioned so often in books that I have read and wished i was around in those days. Thanks for the interesting photos.

Bob Scotney said...

I haven't been to Morecambe at all but would have loved to have gone there when that old pier was in existence.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Thank you for working so hard on this fantastic post. It is too bad that the pretty building burned down. We have many rock jetties along the Oregon Coast, but it is rarely warm enough there to justify building a swimming pool on one of them.

Kathy M.

Kathy Morales said...

A very fine post. A visit during it's heyday would have been fun.

anyjazz said...

Such a sad end for a lovely building. Fortunately it is preserved in photographs. A fine post.

Postcardy said...

I wish I could get on a trim and go visit a place like that.

Mike Burnett said...

I would have liked to visit back then.

It was quite depressing when we last went there - the tide was in and the water lapped that masses of boulders that cover the shore.

tony said...

Given Our Weather, To Send A Postcard Saying the weather is lovely send the kids Is the height of English Optimism ! I guess the trains played an important part in the development of Morecambe.And yes,it was/is a wonderful destination.Great Photos!

Karen S. said...

Oh I would enjoy to visit this and others like it, if only they had survived.

Scriptor Senex said...

Interesting. I think he might have been a heald varnisher - it seems quite a few people put that as their occupation. You can read about it here.

Little Nell said...

What an interetsing post, and isn't it nice when someone pops up with an answer to a query? Now I've learned what a heald is too! I'll tell my husband about this post as he was born in Lancaster and knew Morecambe well.

Joy said...

Thanks Scriptor Senex for interpreting that occupation, I should look with added interest next time I see a loom in a Museum.

Alan Burnett said...

Wonderful card. I know Morecambe fairly well but diedn't recognise that magnificent pier and then I read on and discovered why. Before my time, but what a magnificent structure.

Teresa Wilson Rogers said...

So many things to look at in the first two cards; the women's clothing, the umbrellas, the woman pushing a cart?, the children with their pants rolled up wading in the water, the boats, the "Taj Mahal." Wonderful post!

Caminante said...

I was born in Lancaster, a few miles from Morecambe, and grew up there in the 50s and 60s. I remember some splendid days there, walking out along the pier, and the jetty, and swimming in the huge (110 yard long) open air pool, which was the home of the Miss Great Britain contest.

Joy said...

My grandmother lived in Lancaster, who knows we may have both been on Morecambe beach in the same years.

ryan james said...

nice

ryan james said...

Nice to see the Stone Jetty survives. That pavilion on the Central Pier is certainly very impressive. What a shame that so many of these pier end attractions from yestreyear have been destroyed by fire.

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