Venetian Bridge, Clacton-on-Sea, England


The Bridge, Clacton-on-Sea
c.1930

Google Street View.

Clacton-on-Sea is the largest town in the Tendring peninsula and district in Essex, eastern England, and was founded as an urban district in 1871. . . . In 1871 the Essex railway engineer and land developer Peter Bruff, the steamboat owner William Jackson, and a group of businessmen built a pier and the Royal Hotel (now converted to flats) on a stretch of farmland adjoining low gravelly cliffs and a firm sand-and-shingle beach near the villages of Great and Little Clacton. The town of Clacton-on-Sea was officially incorporated in 1872 and laid out rather haphazardly over the next few years: though it has a central ‘grand’ avenue (originally Electric Parade, now Pier Avenue) the street plan incorporates many previously rural lanes and tracks, such as Wash Lane. Plots and streets were sold off piecemeal to developers and speculators. In 1882 the Great Eastern Railway already serving the well-established resort of Walton-on-the-Naze along the coast, built a spur to Clacton-on-Sea with a junction at Thorpe-le-Soken. Clacton grew into the largest seaside resort between Southend-on-Sea and Great Yarmouth, with some 10,000 residents by 1914 and approx. 20,000 by 1939.
Wikipedia.20

The bridge crosses Pier Gap that leads down to the pier from the town. It was built in 1914 to provide pedestrian access from the seaside attractions on the cliff on one side of the gap to the other.
Geograph

Madeira Walk, Brighton, England


Madeira Walk, Kempton, Brighton
c.1915
Publisher: Alfred William Wardell, Brighton
Google Street View (approximate)

Madeira Terrace was originally built as a covered promenade to attract tourists from London when the new railway opened in the late 1800s. It was built by borough surveyor Philip Lockwood and opened to the east of Royal Crescent in 1890, before being extended to meet the Aquarium in 1927 to 1929. It is considered the longest cast iron structure in Britain, running from the Aquarium Colonnade to the Volk’s railway maintenance building.
Brighton & Hove City Council: Madeira Terrace restoration

The Madeira Drive runs from the Aquarium to King’s Cliff, Kemp Town. The sea-wall is a fine work, about 25 feet thick at the base and 3 feet at the summit. The creepers and shrubs by which the wall is partially screened do much to relieve what would oherwise be a rather dreary prospect. An Arcade, about half a mile long, running eastward from a point near the aquarium, with an asphalted terrace walk on the top, and provided with seats, affords cover in wet weather; and near the eastern extremity is a large Shelter Hall and Reading-Room, similar to that on the beach at the foot of West Street. Refreshments can be obtained in the Shelter Hall, and time-tables, etc., consulted. A Lift communicates with the Marine Parade above. Here, too, is a Bandstand. The slopes at the eastern end of the Madeira Drive, known as the Duke’s Mound, are planted with shrubs, and the carriage drive extends as far as Black Rock.
Brighton Toy Museum (has more pictures)

Madeira Terrace, Madeira Walk, lift tower and related buildings (Madeira Terrace) were built between 1890 and 1897 to the design of the Brighton Borough Engineer, Philip Lockwood (1821-1908). They were constructed by Messrs J Longley and Co of Crawley, at a combined cost of £13,795 Earlier, between 1830 and 1833, the natural East Cliff at Brighton was made good by the application of a concrete covering, and was then planted up to achieve a green wall which is now believed to be the oldest and largest of its kind in Europe, with over 100 species of flowering plants recorded. The concept of attaching a cast-iron terrace to the cliff was inspired by the innovative construction, expressed at the Great Exhibition, Crystal Palace of 1851. The idea was promoted by one of the great iron foundries of the Victorian period, Macfarlane and Co of Glasgow as early as 1874, but was rejected as being unworkable. By 1880, public funding had been arranged and the concept became a technical reality. Madeira Terrace was built under the terms of the Brighton Improvement Act of 1884 and was open to the east of the Royal Crescent by 1890, but controversy prevented its completion to the west.
Historic England

Blackpool, England


Central Beach, Blackpool
Publisher: Valentine

Google Street View (approximate)

In 1919 Thomas Luke celebrated Blackpool as “one of the wonders of the world”; and fifteen years later J B Priestley proclaimed it “the great roaring spangled beast”. Both were alluding to the scale, colour and brilliant lights of Britain’s most popular resort, which provided visitors with entertainment and accommodation on an industrial scale. The Winter Gardens and The Tower offered holidaymakers opulence for sixpence, relying for their success on the millions of visitors who arrived each year, and Blackpool’s three piers and the rides at the Pleasure Beach were further evidence that the technologies that had transformed industry were providing visitors with new thrilling pleasures.
“Blackpool’s Seaside Heritage”, Allan Brodie & Matthew Whitfield, 2014

By the middle of the 18th century, the practice of sea bathing to cure diseases was becoming fashionable among the wealthier classes, and visitors began making the arduous trek to Blackpool for that purpose. In 1781, Thomas Clifton and Sir Henry Hoghton built a private road to Blackpool, and a regular stagecoach service from Manchester and Halifax was established. A few amenities, including four hotels, an archery stall and bowling greens, were developed, and the town grew slowly. The 1801 census records the town’s population at 473. . . . >Blackpool rose to prominence as a major centre of tourism in England when a railway was built in the 1840s connecting it to the industrialised regions of Northern England. The railway made it much easier and cheaper for visitors to reach Blackpool, triggering an influx of settlers . . . The growth was intensified by the practice among the Lancashire cotton mill owners of closing the factories for a week every year to service and repair machinery. These became known as wakes weeks. Each town’s mills would close for a different week, allowing Blackpool to manage a steady and reliable stream of visitors over a prolonged period in the summer.
Wikipedia.
Wikipedia.

In those early 1860’s there was little entertainment to enjoy in Blackpool. The original Uncle Tom’s Cabin was offering refreshments, music and dancing. What remained of the first building was demolished in 1907. It had to be knocked down – because the crumbling cliff it perched on was eroding rapidly. The current Uncle Tom’s was built afterwards. In 1863 North Pier was the first of the three to be built – made in cast iron on screwed piles. It’s now a Listed Building. In 1867 the Prince of Wales Arcade opened (now the site of The Blackpool Tower). The following year saw new attractions opened including:
– the Talbot Road Assembly Rooms and Theatre Royal (the former Yates’s Wine Lodge and Addison’s night club)
– South Jetty
Central Pier, only became well used in 1870 when Robert Bickerstaffe introduced open-air dancing for the “working classes”.
Live Blackpool


North Pier, Blackpool
c.1908
Publiser: “J M & Co London Series”

Google Street View.

Residents met in December 1861 to discuss a new pier and work began in June 1862. Designed by Eugenius Birch, it opened on May 21st 1863. A landing/fishing jetty was added in 1866 and extended in 1869, bringing the pier’s length to 1410 feet. The pier was damaged in 1867 by wreckage from Nelson’s former flagship, the ‘Foudroyant’, which had been moored off the pier for an exhibition. In the 1870s, the pier-head was enlarged and the Indian Pavilion and bandstand were built. There were further ship collisions with the pier in 1892 and 1897. The deck was widened in 1896, and shops and an arcade were added to the shoreward end in 1903.
National Piers Society

In 1861 a group of the town most prominent movers and shakers had gathered in the Clifton Arms Hotel to discuss the idea of building a Pier. There the most ‘in vogue’ Victorians could exercise in the pastime of promenading in the open air. It was suggested in response to the new pier which had opened at nearby Southport. . . . Blackpool North Pier was built between 1862 and 1863 by R.Laidlow and Son, to the designs of Eugenius Birch. Eugenius Birch was most acclaimed for his seaside pier constructions. During his life he was responsible for no fewer than 14 of them, including some of the best known ones. They include Brighton West and of course Blackpool North Pier. Most piers of the era were made using cast iron. Birch thought that if wrought iron was to be used it would take a lot of repairing if the pier were to be damaged. North Pier was constructed with cast iron screw piles and columns, in turn supporting iron girders and a wooden deck.
Live Blackpool

North Pier is the most northerly of the three coastal piers in Blackpool, England. Built in the 1860s, it is also the oldest and longest of the three. Although originally intended only as a promenade, competition forced the pier to widen its attractions to include theatres and bars. Unlike Blackpool’s other piers, which attracted the working classes with open air dancing and amusements, North Pier catered for the “better-class” market, with orchestra concerts and respectable comedia.ns
. . .
The pier, which cost £11,740 to build, originally consisted of a promenade 468 yards (428 m) long and 9 yards (8.2 m) wide, extending to 18 yards (16 m) wide at the pier-head. The bulk of the pier was constructed from cast iron, with a wooden deck laid on top. . . . The pier was intended primarily for leisure rather than seafaring; for the price of 2d (worth approximately £4.90 in 2012) the pier provided the opportunity for visitors to walk close to the sea without distractions. This fee was insufficient to deter “trippers'”, which led to Major Preston campaigning for a new pier to cater for the ‘trippers’. In 1866, the government agreed that a second pier could be built, despite objections from the Blackpool Pier Company that it was close to their pier and therefore unnecessary . . . . To differentiate itself from the new pier, North Pier focused on catering for the “better classes”, charging for entry and including attractions such as an orchestra and band concerts, in contrast to the Central Pier (or the “People’s pier”), which regularly had music playing and open-air dancing. The pier owners highlighted the difference, charging at least a shilling for concerts and ensuring that advertisements for comedians focused on their lack of vulgarity.
Wikipedia.

Pier, 1862-3, by Eugenius Birch, contractors R. Laidlaw and Son of Glasgow. Cast iron screw piles and columns supporting iron girders and wooden deck 1,405 feet long, with jetty of 474 feet (added 1867). Pierhead enlarged with wings 1874 (for Indian Pavilion later destroyed by fire) now has modern theatre on north side, and curved glass and iron shelters on south side. Promenade deck lined each side by wooden benches with ornamental open-work backs of cast iron: a continuous band of stars in circles surmounted by semicircular fan-shaped backs in groups of three, the centre one having a grotesque in the middle, and the groups divided by voluted armrests. Two pairs of original kiosk-bays on deck have kiosks built c. 1900: each an elongated hexagon of wood and glass, with 2-tier swept- out lead roof bearing octagonal lantern of blue glass and minaret roof with finial.
Historic England

Pierrots, Scarborough, North Yorkshire


The Pierrots, Scarborough.
1900s
Publisher: Gottschalk, Dreyfuss & Davis Co, London

Google Street View.

Pierrot troupes, alongside Punch & Judy and pantomime are one of the very few, indigenous, British performance forms – they are an important part of our cultural heritage and folk traditions. The origins of the pierrot character come from the medieval Italian Comedy or Commedia d’ell Arte, as do those of Harlequin & Columbine, whom we associate with pantomime and Mr Punch of Punch & Judy fame. What is unique about pierrot in Britain, is that there evolved troupes of pierrots specifically at the seaside: the story begins with the development of the seaside resorts and the mass market of holidaymakers as the industrial revolution took hold.
Seaside Follies

[The] story begins with theatrical entrepeneur Will Catlin (real name William Fox) whose popular pierrots were a regular sight on Scarborough’s South Bay during the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth. Often referred to as the ‘sad clown’ the pierrot character has a long history – dating back to the seventeenth century, but became popular during the nineteenth century in France and beyond, as a recurring motif in theatre. With a whitened face and baggy attire, the pierrot was a naive, innocent character, whose antics included comedy, mime, song and dance.

Catlin, a former music hall performer first visited Scarborough in 1894, and it was during that time that he formed his renowed group of exclusively all-male pierrots. Whilst his pierrots toured widely – even over the winter months, when they visited a variety of cities and towns – in Scarborough they performed (during the early days) on a makeshift stage on the South Bay. They were not the only pierrot group in town – George Royle’s ‘Imps’ performed a similar act on the South Sands from the early 1900s, but adopted different tactics after being invited to entertain audiences at Floral Hall in Alexandra Gardens. Unlike Catlin’s group, Royle’s performers were male and female, and in their new venue wore period costumes, calling themselves the Fol-de-Rols.
Stories from Scarborough

The Grand Hotel is a large hotel in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England, overlooking the town’s South Bay. It is a Grade II listed building that is owned by Britannia Hotels. At the time of its grand opening in 1867, it was the largest hotel and the largest brick structure in Europe.
Wikipedia.

Leas Shelter, Folkestone, England


View from the Leas Shelter, Folkestone
Postmarked: 1916
Publisher: Photochrom Co. Ltd.

Google Street View (approximate).

In 1784, a landslip created a new strip of land between the beach and the cliffside, the length of the coast from Folkestone Harbour to Sandgate. A ribbon of land a few meters wide. In 1828, the Earl of Radnor built a toll road providing an easy route between Folkestone harbour and Sandgate. The original toll road costs were – motor car 10p, motorcycle with sidecar 2 and 1/2 p, motorcycle 2p, bicycle, horse and handcart 1/2 p. The original toll house (designed by the architect Sydney Smirke) remains within the park On either side of the toll road, land was cultivated and grazed. Old field boundaries are still used within the park, and the ‘Cow Path’ is the old drove route from The Leas.

In 1877, a series of paths was constructed. The Ordnance Survey map of 1898 (of the area) shows some of these paths, Including a path from the Leas Shelter on the Upper Leas leading down to the road. The Leas Lift opened in 1885, to improve access between the seafront and the upper Leas (of Folkestone). The park and seafront with their new pier, switchback ride (an early form of roller coaster – railway along the promenade), and beach amusements proved to be so popular, that a second lift was added in 1890. The remains of a further lift serving the ‘Metropole Hotel’ (now a block of apartments) can still be seen (on the Upper Leas), and yet another lift connected the western end of the Leas with Sandgate. In 1913, the area then known as Leas Cliff was leased by the Radnor Estate to the local corporation, to be used mainly for a park, but the estate still kept the tolls from the toll road. In the park, tea rooms, shelters and woodland walks were provided among the newly planted holm oaks (Quercus ilex) and pine trees so that people could “take the air”.
Wikipedia

Colwyn Bay, Wales


Colwyn Bay looking west
c.1910

Street View

The Victoria Pier and Pavilion were opened in 1900 and could accommodate 2,500 people. The pier was initially 12 metres wide and 96 metres long, but was later extended to 320 metres.
Colwyn Bay Heritage Online

Work began in 1899 to the design of Maynall and Littlewood of Manchester. The pier opened on 1st June 1900 to a length of 220 feet, including a 2500 seat pavilion. The Bijou Theatre, built in 1916, accommodated 600. In 1922, the main pavilion was burnt down. It was replaced the following year, by the pier’s new owners, the local council. In 1933, the pavilion was once again destroyed by fire and, two months later, a separate blaze wrecked the Bijou Theatre. A replacement pavilion opened in 1934.
National Piers Society

Designed by Maynall & Littlewoods of Manchester, Colwyn Bay’s Victoria Pier was one of the later British piers to be built, with construction starting in June 1899 by the Salford firm of William Brown & Sons. Many of the pier’s components were pre-fabricated, and manufactured by the Widnes Iron Foundry. Its official opening was on 1 June 1900, when the architect, Mr. Littlewood, handed a golden key to the pier’s owners. As first constructed, the pier was just 316 ft (96m) long and 40 ft (12m) wide, comprising a timber promenade deck with seating and railings along its length, and a 2,500 seat pavilion in the Moorish Revival style. The pavilion was set to the right of the deck, with a walkway allowing access to the pier-head to the left. The pavilion’s main entrance was flanked on one side by a flower shop and, on the other, by a coffee lounge and cake shop. Inside, the pavilion boasted a large balcony which extended around three sides of the auditorium and a full orchestra pit. In 1903, the Victoria Pier Company decided to extend the neck to a length of 750 ft (227m) to facilitate outdoor theatrical performances. The pier featured intricate cast iron balustrades, manufactured by the Widnes Iron Foundry, and similar balustrade designs can be found at Mumbles Pier, and formerly at Grand Pier, Weston-super-Mare and Morecambe’s Central and West End Piers.
Wikipedia.


Victoria Pavilion, Colwyn Bay
Postmarked 1903
Publisher: J. Homan, Colywn Bay/Valentine