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Issue 26 - Summer 2019

Your stories, your news, your Blackpool. The Heritage Blackpool Newsletter is compiled by Heritage volunteers to celebrate, embrace and promote Blackpool’s past.

Blackpool’s Belgian Colony When the German army invaded Belgium in August 1914, and perpetrated atrocities against her civilians, a quarter of a million Belgians sought refuge in Britain. Over the course of the war more than 2,000 of them came to Blackpool. Some stayed for a short time then moved on, particularly for employment. Young, single men left when conscripted into the Belgian army. Some remained for the duration, and a few never left. The first Belgians arrived from the clearing house in London in October 1914 and were quartered in the Wesleyan School in Alexandra Road. Some of those who followed went to the Castle at Bispham. Later, billets were found for them in lodging houses. Blackpool Herald reported that the first group consisted of 40 men, 35 women and 10 children including a baby who had been born on the sea voyage. They were described as middle class. London was requested to send more, ‘of the destitute, working and artisan classes.’ The Belgian Refugees’ Committee was formed, taking an office in the Empress Buildings in Church Street. They worked tirelessly arranging accommodation and employment. Appeals went out for clothes and footwear as many refugees had nothing more than what they stood in. Blackpool Council addressed the children’s education and allocated places in Roman Catholic or Church of England schools according to the parents’ wishes. Moreover, the Corporation established a Belgian school within Revoe Council School, which opened on 12 April 1915. The headmistress was the Reverend Mère Angèle, who was assisted by three other Ursuline nuns. Female Belgian teachers were recruited, whose wages were paid by Blackpool Education Department. Although other Belgian schools were created in Britain during the First World War, Blackpool’s was the only one in the country run by the local education committee, sustained by the public

rates. Additionally, there were Belgian been devastated, and had no family teachers employed at the Victoria C of to take them in elsewhere in Belgium, E school in Tyldesley Road. were to stay behind; along with some A Belgian Club was started in Redman’s too ill to travel they numbered about a Buildings, Central Beach, and some of hundred. There were also four Belgian the French-speaking Belgians joined women who had found husbands in the Cercle Français, whose members Blackpool. offered to interpret for the refugees. Farewell events were organised; the For the Flemish speakers, translations Cercle Français met with their Belgian were provided by the Reverend P friends for the last time at Collinson’s Genicot, a native of Belgium living in Café in West Street and the children Lytham Road. of the Belgian School at Revoe gave a Dr Victor Philippe of Brussels was the concert for various dignitaries, singing medical officer sent from London who in two languages including some held his surgery at the rear of Central popular ragtime. The Chairman and Pier, and school age Belgian children the President of the Belgian Refugees’ benefitted from examinations of eyes Committee gave addresses imploring and teeth alongside their English the children to retain the English they counterparts. had learned. They had both recently Many church groups and charitable organisations arranged events which took the form of whist drives, bazaars, exhibitions and musical evenings in aid of the Belgian Relief Fund. Most people showed solidarity with the refugees and welcomed them. Indeed, throughout the war there were few reports of incidents in the Bon Voyage Belgium, illustrated in the Blackpool Herald 14th March 1919 local press. However, once the been decorated by the King of the armistice was signed in November Belgians in recognition of their work. 1918, talk turned to repatriation and the Departure day was 7 March 1919 for sooner the better - returning soldiers a total of 695 Belgians from Blackpool would need employment and Belgium and the surrounding area. Amongst needed rebuilding. them were Rev Mère Angèle and the Eventually, in order to expedite nuns of the Ursuline Convent. Also repatriation a scheme providing free traveling was a Blackpool lady with her passage home was announced and Belgian husband and their two-month Blackpool’s Belgians were told to old son. Dr Philippe accompanied the register their intention to leave by 24 party on the train. February. Only those whose towns had

A large crowd gathered at Talbot Road railway station to say their goodbyes and a banner was suspended over the entrance which read, ‘Bon Voyage: Belgium Liberated.’ A special train had been chartered and clearly this was an advertising opportunity too good to miss as posters on the carriage windows proclaimed, ‘This train conveys 800 refugees to their homes in Belgium after four years’ sojourn in bright and breezy Blackpool.’ Every person was given a food parcel for the journey supplied by the National Food Fund along with a ‘Good Luck’ card and a commemorative edition of a Blackpool guide. Speeches were made and tears were shed and as the train steamed away there were cries from the refugees of, ‘We shall never forget.’ Then they were gone, first to Hull to the SS Ajax bound for Antwerp, and onward to their towns and villages across Belgium. Reverend Genicot wrote to the Council expressing his gratitude for their attention over the years to the education of the Belgian children. Local newspapers reported the departure of the refugees along with statistics related to their stay; more than £131,000 had been paid to householders for billeting in the Fylde area; over 7,000 cases had been dealt with at the weekly Emergency Committee meetings; over 19,000 articles had been distributed by the Wardrobe Committee including 4,000 pairs of boots and shoes. There had been more than 36,000 medical interviews with 21,000 prescriptions issued and 150 operations performed at the Victoria Hospital. There had been 125 births and 75 burials. In his speech on the station platform the Chairman of the Belgian Refugees’ Committee had declared, ‘The case of the refugees was perhaps one of the most wonderful achievements of Blackpool…’ Yet, over the intervening 100 years its Belgian colony has been largely forgotten. Louise Thornton


How the origin of Blackpool’s name evolved from the Ice Age The story begins around ten thousand years ago during the last Ice Age. When the ice receded, it left in its wake a body of water now known as Marton Mere. The original mere before drainage was a lake formed after the debris carried by the glacier was washed out by the streams fed by the melting ice. If a large block of ice is surrounded and covered by the debris, when the ice eventually melts, it leaves a hollow which often fills with water. This feature is known as a kettle-hole. It is believed this is how Marton Mere was formed. Organic sediments are present some 14,000 years in age. Men have hunted the area for some 10,000 years. The Anglo-Saxon settlements of Staining, Layton (Lay-tun) and Marton (Meretun) came into existence around the seventh century, dependent on the mere for food and water. The mere once had great economic importance; in 1120, for example, Theobald Walter, Baron of Amounderness, granted rights to the Abbey of Stanlaw to take a stream for the Monks’ mill at Staining and the fishery rights were frequently the subject of grants. Petitions of 1655 and later call attention to the flooding of the mere in bad weather; they ask for £30 to build a bridge near Cornwall Place and to improve the dykes. After 1700 dykes were cut out to join the Skipton stream and drain it to the east into the Wyre at Skippool; another was Spen Dyke. This job was tackled in earnest in

1731, and by the mid-18th century the mere was reduced to the 15-acre site. Ancient Briton coracles were found during the course of the drainage works. The area around the mere remained as rough pasture, boggy in places, and a lack of easy access made it a natural sanctuary for birds and wildlife, greatly appreciated by naturalists. The original banks of the mere are very evident by Chain Lane, by the Marton Mere caravan site, and by the southern entrance to Stanley Park. It extended some 2 miles east to west (Chain Lane to West Park Drive playing fields of Stanley Park) and half mile North to South (Whinney Heys to Lawson Road). Although many streams (such as David’s slack) fed the mere, there was only one outlet, running from Cornwall Place to the sea, which on its way drove great Great Marton water mill (near Rectory Road). This stream was joined by the Spen. At Spen Corner the Marton Mere outlet joined with floodwater draining Marton Moss. This outlet was known locally as the Spen Dyke. The combined waters then proceeded from Spen Corner (located by Waterloo Road School) through saturated meadows, churning up fragments of peaty sub-soil and discharging at length into the sea at Manchester Square forming a dark black pool, thereby giving rise to the origin of our town name, Blackpool. Today the stream forms part of the sewage outfall, but in the 18th century the dark-hued waters were clearly visible discharging into the oncoming tides.

The aforementioned saturated meadows would have flowed along the present Ansdell Road, Queen Victoria Road and Rigby Road. Properties along sections of these roads have partially subsided into the Spen Dyke. Spen Dyke has now been culverted but the source of the original dyke can still be seen in the Bambers Road area of rural Marton Moss. A name stone ‘Spen Corner’ can be seen today on a building at the corner of Ansdell Road and Waterloo Road. A British rail signal box once located by Rigby Road was known as Spen Dyke Box. Today the mere, a freshwater lake of around 40 acres, is still drained by the Little River Skipton, which enters the River Wyre at Skippool. Between 1945 and 1973 land on three sides nearest to Blackpool was the site of the corporation refuse tip. Streets and locations that take their name from the mere include Mere Road, Mereland Ave, Mere Park Court, Mere Park Hotel and Mereside Estate. Marton Mere was declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1979 (one of 2000 lakes in the country). It is one of the only remaining natural lakes in Lancashire. In 1991 the mere and its surrounds were declared a local nature reserve. Modern day visitors to the Marton Mere Caravan Park do not always realise the ancient nature of the Fylde. Barry Shaw

Deed relating to Richard Warbrick of Blackpoole in Layton, 1628/29. Copyright Blackpool Council Heritage Service


Cuthbert Cartwright Grundy 1846 - 1946 Cuthbert Cartwright Grundy R.C.A. R.I. F.L.S., painter, scientist, author and public benefactor was born into a wealthy Unitarian family living quietly in Bury on 10 July 1846. Cuthbert’s grandfather was a Unitarian minister, his father a successful solicitor - both of whom were to have very different, but equally deep, impressions on the young man’s character and last throughout his life. The Unitarian religion, with its emphasis on tolerance, equality and care for others, was to be a vital part of Cuthbert’s life. It would inspire him to do everything he possibly could to make the world a better place in which to live. He believed in the natural equality of human beings, with prejudice, race hatred and social class having no place in his ideal modern society; and, in addition, each and every one of us has a duty of care to look after our fellow human beings, and protect each other in time of danger. As a boy Cuthbert studied at Stand Grammar School in Whitefield near Manchester, which was able to trace its roots to a Unitarian foundation in the 17th century and known to set high academic standards. From there he went to Owens College, today’s Manchester University, where he studied sciences, the liberal arts, and modern languages. On leaving college Cuthbert’s career path was to follow his father into the family legal practice; however, fate was to take him in a different direction. Cuthbert suddenly became very ill and was apparently unable to continue with his intended career. Fortunately, he recovered from his illness but then, for reasons which are not clear, did not resume his law studies and decided instead to pursue other interests. Cuthbert began to write erudite scientific papers for the burgeoning science community, aiming to widen the frontiers of knowledge in the fields of biology, chemistry, anthropology and medical topics. Then, in complete contrast, Cuthbert took up painting. He was to perform brilliantly in these two new pursuits and soon forgot about law studies. His scientific papers were greeted with enthusiasm at the Royal Institution and the Linnean Society, where his studies of the natural world were rated some of the best available at the time. He even wrote books about farming which are still in use to this day. His paintings were met with equal enthusiasm, being of a standard to make him become one of the nation’s most accomplished artists. Cuthbert’s favourite compositions were beauty spots in rural settings with rivers, ponds, trees and lovely summer skies always taking pride of place. But he was also an accomplished painter of people, and we see self-portraits displaying this excellent natural ability. In another turn of events, as part of the convalescence following his illness, his doctors advised him to take regular exercise and enjoy the outdoors as there was a real fear that his previous illness might return - and possibly this time prove fatal. So he took up sport and played golf, with sessions of athletics thrown in to provide a more vigorous form of physical training. But another significant piece of advice was given to him, and one which was ultimately to

have a beneficial spin-off as far as Blackpool was concerned. He was advised to leave Bury, and go to live, albeit temporarily, by the coast. And this was just what the family decided on doing, choosing Grange-over-Sands in which to settle for a while. In 1878 Cuthbert’s father died and Cuthbert and his brother John, who were both still living at home with their mother, inherited the considerable family fortune. Then in 1884 his mother died and Cuthbert and his brother had reached yet another turning-point in their lives. They decided that it would be too trying on their emotions to remain at the family home in Bury, so they decided to make a new life in a new location. The place they chose was Blackpool and started

View from my Window by Cuthbert Cartwright Grundy, 1937. Copyright Grundy Art Gallery.

by renting rooms at a house in Alexandra Road, before finding somewhere more permanent in Moore Street where they bought two houses facing each other. In 1888 they moved into two newly-built adjoining houses on Lytham Road. Cuthbert was to live at 456 Lytham Road for the remaining 58 years of his life, a house that became known as “Grundy House” and stands to this day. For the remainder of the 19th century the Grundy brothers made a new life for themselves in Blackpool, organising exhibitions and events, founding a Painting and Sketching Society and establishing Unitarian Sunday services which began initially at Grundy House on Lytham Road. The brothers’ painting prowess continued to flourish and exhibitions at the Royal Academy and Walker Art Gallery brought them even greater fame. But one thing continued to trouble them. Why did Blackpool not have its own art gallery in which to make a permanent exhibition of their and other painters’ best works? To remedy this, in the early years of the new century, their aims, interests and philanthropy were at last to become a practical reality. They financed the building of the

Grundy Art Gallery in Queen Street, which opened its doors to the people of Blackpool and visitors on 26 October 1911. An art gallery of course needs paintings and Cuthbert and John Grundy started off the Blackpool Art Gallery Collection with a donation to the people of Blackpool of a total of sixty-nine of their best works. To this day, the Grundy Art Gallery hosts exhibitions of works of art from far and near for the people of Blackpool and visitors to the town. But never far from their attentions was their support of worthy and philanthropic causes to help needy people. In this, South Shore would be particularly favoured. In 1914 Cuthbert and John Grundy built a much-needed library on Highfield Road. The library was set in a large park and games area on land they owned, and it is known to this day as the Grundy Recreation Ground. A convalescent and care home for poor and needy children was established in the Stony Hill Avenue, eventually taken over by Blackpool Corporation for the same purpose. Before long the news of Cuthbert Grundy’s generosity, kindness and philanthropy reached the ears of the government in London, and it was Lloyd George himself who announced on the occasion of the King’s birthday that Cuthbert Cartwright Grundy from Blackpool was to be knighted by his Majesty to honour his life’s work. Significantly, Cuthbert Grundy did not dress up for the grand occasion on 18 August 1919. Instead he chose to wear ordinary clothes to identify his place in society among ordinary people with whom he lived and worked. Cuthbert Grundy became a J.P. and did many things anonymously that would go to help the people of Blackpool. But he would, however, have to wait a further 20 years - when he was in his eighties - before his adopted home town would honour him with the Freedom of Blackpool. Then quietly, at home in Grundy House on 1 February 1946, just a few months before his 100th birthday, Cuthbert Grundy passed away, leaving the legacy in Blackpool we see and enjoy to this day. In an obituary a journalist wrote: “He could have spent his days spoiling himself in selfindulgent luxury and letting the unpleasant side of life go hang. But he chose not to do this, thereby making the world just a little bit better place in which to live.” Denys Barber Don’t miss Grundy Art Gallery’s current exhibition, ON REPEAT which runs until 22nd June 2019; an international group exhibition that brings together contemporary artists, and works from the Lytham St Annes Art Collection and Grundy Art Gallery’s own collection.


Early history of the Imperial The Imperial Hotel at North Shore the following day, but not feeling well he of reconstruction; the company was cannot, like the Clifton and others, liquidated in December that year and a summoned his doctor from London, who boast a tradition dating back to the 18th new company - bearing the original name refused to allow him to appear in the century. It was established in 1867 and - was formed. In 1881 the company name town. He then returned to London the next is situated in a large Victorian red brick was changed to the Imperial Hydropathic day for more medical consultations. He building in what, before development, Hotel Company, Blackpool. The new described the Imperial as a “charming was once Claremont Park. A syndicate company also found the hotel was no place of rest” when he wrote to his sisterwhich included two directors of the money-spinner and it got into difficulties. in-law. North Pier formed a company known Eventually the directors were facing In 1871 Mr Curwen was appointed as as the Blackpool Land and Building bankruptcy and the bailiffs were ready to manager of the Imperial but, like William Company, which purchased the whole take possession of the hotel. Head before him, he was unable to make of the land on the northern sea front James Kirk, who had only recently joined a success of the business. The following lying between Carlton Terrace and the the board, stepped in with a loan of £3000; year Mr Taylor, who had managed hotels Gynn Inn, and created the Claremont his intervention appeared to mark the in Brighton and Jersey, was appointed to Park estate. turning point for the hotel. With James Fish succeed him. Alas again the venture did The site of Regent Terrace is described and then Charles Parker as chairman, the not prove successful and a scheme was as land sold to a Mr Lowe and then later directors had a further seven years of hard prepared for the foundation of a limited the plot of the Imperial. When taken over work and worry before they were able to company to take over the hotel. by the building company the estate was declare a dividend. In 1889 a four per cent to some extent agricultural and a dividend was paid, reaching five farm house once stood on the site. per cent in 1892 - and the company Many older residents remembered started to grow. that cattle used to graze on the In 1901 Turkish and Russian baths, land between Derby and Warley and a sea water plunge bath, were Road, where once the baths (now built in the basement of the south demolished) stood. It is interesting wing and a ballroom added, which to note that steps were indeed taken would accommodate 400 guests. to secure the embankments facing Three years later a wing was added the property from coastal erosion to the north end of the hotel, which during heavy gales, which to this day incorporated a dining room for 400 sweep along our coast. guests, with lounge and palm court The doors officially opened on 27 adjoining, and additional bedrooms. June 1867 by Clegg and Jones with Under the dining room was a a price quoted of around £50,000 banqueting room of the same size, for the final cost of completion. The a billiards room, cloak rooms and Imperial was at first was let out on other amenities. Then in April 1918, a tenancy to a Mr William Beachy towards the end of the First World Head; the tariff to stay was three War, the Government took over An Albert Eden photograph showing the Imperial Hotel entrance guineas a week and 4s 6d a day for the hotel to be used as an officers’ servants. It seems evident that that hospital, and it retained possession the shareholders expected the hotel until May 1919. to be popular due to its location and South of the Imperial Blackpool the temperance movement, which extended rapidly along its Golden was very popular at the time of Mile. Fortunately, a relaxation of construction. Mr Head in the early the prohibition on alcohol led to days struggled to make the hotel pay the Imperial taking off as the venue due to the lack of visitors; Blackpool of choice for important municipal was only just beginning to emerge events. In 1878 the opening of as a destination for the masses, and Blackpool’s splendid Winter Gardens railway and other methods of travel was celebrated at the Imperial with were not yet fully developed. the Lord Mayor of London booking Dickens, the well-known author, the hotel for his entourage of 63 came to the resort on 21 April 1869 mayors and lady mayoresses from during his tour of the north. He across Britain. In 1891 the laying of View of the Imperial from the Buckley Photograph Collection spent the night at the Imperial and the foundations of Blackpool Tower was giving readings of his works was celebrated with a gala dinner at The scheme did not come to fruition until to packed audiences after a triumphant the Imperial. To further the hotel’s appeal, August 1873, when the hotel was sold tour of America. The Blackpool Herald the Imperial embraced Hydropathy, a to Mr Rothwell and others for around reported on April 23: fashionable term for a combination of £32,000. The company struggled along, treatments that involved occupational “Blackpool has had this week the honour but made no headway as a profit-making of receiving the distinguished visitor in therapy, physiotherapy and water for the proposition. the person of Charles Dickens, the great alleviation of pain, stiffness in the joints Two years later, a resolution was novelist, who arrived at the Imperial Hotel and gout. passed by the board to wind up the on Wednesday and left yesterday.” He was meant to be appearing in Preston company voluntarily for the purpose Juliette Gregson


The History of the No.3 Pub Now that the new No.3, complete with its unique name, has been saved to start a new life, perhaps it is time to look at its beginnings. Over the years it has been used as an ale house, an auction room, a coaching house, a hotel, an inn and a pub. In the past it has been called Cronshaws, The Number 3, The Didsbury Hotel, The Didsbury Late No. 3, The No.3 Late Didsbury, The Crown and now magically it has reverted to its original and best name - two hundred years old and still going strong.

William Parkinson who introduced its strawberry garden and kept a gardener in 1850. John Hodgson took over in 1855 and certainly rejuvenated it, extending the garden and advertising its charms widely. Hodgson shared the public house with another local boy, John Noblett, when he bought land further down the lane and began building what was to become the Belle Vue Hotel and Strawberry Gardens.

of houses in 1878. She put in a music hall and with gay abandon advertised it as the Didsbury Hotel Late No 3, the most comfortable hotel in Blackpool. This was despite having only three bedrooms, all of which were let to gentlemen only. There was, however, a darker side with the coming of the Raikes Hall. The lane became well known as the haunt of prostitutes and good-time girls and many of them used the Belle Vue and the No.3. Police and watchmen patrolled the lane and Sarah was accused of selling ale to them. She very spiritedly asked for details of how she was to recognise them.

A team of archaeologists let loose on its carpark would uncover not only the remains of the 1780 building, a very modest Sarah’s music hall cobbled single opened at 9am and storey ale house with closed at 11pm, and stabling, but several other ale houses for the princely sum going back to of 4d you could stay doomsday. Situated all day. We may have at the crossroad to had all day drinking the old village of in the 1980s, but Layton, the building Sarah was doing it would have been in the 1880s! the most important part of the village. By this time there Travel would have was competition been on horseback from the growing and so the stabling The Didsbury Hotel (far left) and bowling green. Taken from the Buckley Photograph Collection. and splendid essential, not to mention ale for the Belle Vue, with its John Noblett and his wife Alice remained throat of the brave rider. For until the strawberry gardens and music hall, and there until 1873. He survived a bankruptcy 1870s the lane would be mostly baked the Raikes Hall was rapidly becoming order, and in that year bought the Veevers clay and very stony. the top amusement venue in the area. Hotel in King Street, making a great They all strove to outdo each other. Both success of it. The earliest mention of an inn was 1780 John Hodgson and Sarah Hawks applied when it sported a bowling green and for a spirit licence to match the Raikes By now the No.3 was the property of an archery butt - a reminder of the old and reluctantly the magistrates provided brewers, Frith and Linnel. They renovated days when practice was compulsory for them. Unfortunately, it was not to save it, adding three bedrooms and a billiard every man on a Sunday. The area was them. John Hodgson sold the Belle Vue in room. The stabling was deemed excellent considered a splendid place to walk to and included a new lock-up coach house. 1879 and Sarah ran the No.3 as a pub with from the Promenade, especially on a music. Even the Raikes failed once the The pub acquired its first landlady, Sarah rainy day. This was due to there being a Hawks, who was well-known in the area. Winter Gardens venue was built. When card room with backgammon boards and Barely a month went by without Sarah and good ale. Layton Hall, just up the road began with John Hodgson falling out or appearing shows and exhibitions, Sarah had stalls in the local courtroom. Sarah was John’s The No.3 had the distinction of having the down the lane supplying food and drinks. landlady at the Albert Hotel (later first theatre/music hall, but theatre was Sarah sadly died soon after at the age of renamed the Belle Vue) until her son was a slight exaggeration. “Do not conjure 53. Sarah’s son took the tenancy but only up even a wooden structure or stage”, accused of burning his music hall down. lasted a year. The brewery then ran the As a result, John sacked Sarah and for the a contemporary report states, “for the No.3 as just a public house and so it has next ten years they competed for business place dignified with the name of theatre remained. The pub has had its ups and stands for 9 months of the year as a barn”. along with the Raikes Hall Gardens. downs since its early days, but remains above all a survivor. Sarah was an astute lady. She saw the The pub has had its share of colourful writing on the wall, closed the strawberry landlords, from Robert Sutcliffe in the gardens and built the Belle Vue terrace Stella Siddall 1840s, a carter from Rochdale, to the local


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Heritage Newsletter Issue 26 Summer 2019  

Do you know where the name 'Blackpool' originates from? Find out in Issue 26 of the Heritage Newsletter. Learn about Blackpool's largely for...

Heritage Newsletter Issue 26 Summer 2019  

Do you know where the name 'Blackpool' originates from? Find out in Issue 26 of the Heritage Newsletter. Learn about Blackpool's largely for...