Central Promenade Blackpool Vintage Postcard
Blog,  Lancashire

Blackpool Then & Now – a Journey in Old Postcards

Compare Blackpool scenes of today with vintage views from the past

Whenever I go on a holiday or a day out to a favourite destination, I find myself wondering what used to be there, what it might have looked like then compared to now. Blackpool has definitely changed a lot over the years. Searching through my vintage postcard collection I’ve found some iconic Blackpool scenes to compare ‘then’ with views from ‘now’. See what changes you can see.

Time for a paddle at Blackpool Beach & Promenade

My old Blackpool Central Promenade postcard dates to between the late 1930s and the early 1940s, based on its postmark of May 1942 and the inclusion of the RNLI building built in 1936. Here I compare it to a 2018 view taken from a similar spot borrowed from Getty Images.

At a glance you can see clearly that somethings haven’t changed and are unlikely to, specifically the crowded sands and the iconic Blackpool Tower. The one other building I can identify in both images is the Woolworth Building, now home to the local Wetherspoon’s pub.

One of the things I love most about the image from the 1940s is the juxtaposition of the very 20th century RNLI building alongside horse-drawn bathing machines! Clearly there was still one foot firmly planted in the past. It’s easy to lament the loss of the more attractive Victorian buildings that line the front in the old postcard, but what is there now will no doubt evolve further in the future.

The Promenade has long been the site of a variety of tourist attractions from Read’s Sea Water Baths of the 1800s, to Madame Tussauds, the demolished Golden Mile Amusements and the more recent Sea Life Centre. Today the Promenade is no different – home to a long line of attractions and amusements with billboards and signage dominating the front.

Relaxing on the cliffs on Blackpool’s North Shore

Further along the North Shore today you come to the eye-catching Cabin Lift, just near Cabin Tram-stop. Long disused, as the name suggests, this used to be a lift down the cliffs to save weary holiday-makers the arduous trek. Now you would come to a karting track, however ‘then’ – back in the 1930s when the lift was built, there was a thriving boating pool where you could hire paddle and rowing boats. As shown in my vintage postcard from 1957, it was a lively spot to relax on the man-made cliffs, take out a boat or enjoy a couple of children’s rides – including a small train ride.

The boating pool was built in 1923 into a section of the sea wall and was originally intended as a bathing pool. The cliffs were also part of the sea defences which were intended to prevent cliff erosion. Sadly the boating pool lost popularity following the closing of the lift 1979 due to damage caused by subsidence. For a short period in the early 1990s the lift reopened but lacking in popularity it quickly closed again. With its current Grade II listing status the future of the lift is safe. It will be interesting to see how this area develops in future.

A stroll in the Gardens on Blackpool’s South Shore

To the South of Blackpool now, I have a great postcard with views of the Gardens along the South Shore which dates to the late 1910s. It has proved tricky to find an image online which matches this viewpoint but I have included Google’s StreetView image from the corner of Simpson Street and Osbourne Road (centre right of the image from the 1920s).

The buildings at this intersection are the same ones, albeit with a good layer of render and paint, and the road layout has stayed the same. The garden to the bottom of the older view is now Adventure Golf, so retains its purpose as one involving the pursuit of pleasure. The next garden up is just visible to the left of the Google image, remains today, although with a slightly less formal appearance.

Blackpool Then & Now

And so it seems on the face of things much changes over the course of a century, but one thing remains true, Blackpool continues to be a popular destination for those looking to have a fun time and maximise on their leisure time. A resort close to as many hearts now as then. Why not browse the rest of my Blackpool Vintage Postcard collection and look for your favourite scenes?

Blackpool History Sources

Interested in finding out more about Blackpool’s history or these specific landmarks? See the links below for articles which helped me find out a little more:

Blackpool Council has this interesting document about The Cabin Lift: Appendix A Cabin Lift.pdf (blackpool.gov.uk)

Historic England includes documentation around The Cabin Lift’s Listed Status: CABIN LIFT, Blackpool – 1393721 | Historic England

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