It started off quite miserable this morning, after rain overnight, it continued to drizzle, so it looks like a day in today. I thought I would do the next instalment of old photo's, starting where I left off, me leaving home. I was determined I wanted to be independant, and make my own way in life, so when my best friend Carol moved to Blackpool with her family, it was an ideal opportunity to follow her. I went for a holiday first, when I was 17, and wanted to move immediately as I thought this was the place to be. I loved the buzz of the Promenade and the Pleasure Beach, and Carol and her sister had made quite a lot of friends. They always seemed to be going to beach parties on the sand dunes down at South Shore, or the local pub.
Mum didn't want me to leave home, and I'm afraid I got a bit sulky when she said I couldn't go until I was eighteen. I was working in a toilet roll factory at the time called Wesleys, although my work mates were a good laugh, the job was as dull as ditchwater. I wanted some excitement. When I hit the magical 18, I bragged to everyone that I was going to get a flat in Blackpool, and I was off. I felt really excited, I couldn't see me in a factory for the rest of my life.
At first I stayed with Carol and her family for a while, until I got a job and found a bedsit. Carol's mum was fantastic, she welcomed me like I was another daughter. After a few weeks, I found a job in a large self service cafe on the sea front. I was given the drinks section to look after, so all day long I was serving cups of tea and coffee to a never ending stream of customers. My goodness that was boring. After five days I'd had enough, and walked out.
I went straight onto Central Pier and asked for a job in the cafeteria there. Luckily they needed someone to take the ice cream tray around at half time in the theatre. It was quite a nice job, but at other times I had to do the cleaning in the cafe.
My mum and sister decided to come for a visit, and they turned up at Central Pier to see me. Well, I burst into tears when I saw them, as I was quite homesick. I had found myself a bed sit to live in, which was one room, use of shared bathroom and kitchen, so after work I would either visit Carol, or go back to my room. Blackpool suddenly didn't feel so exciting when I had to knuckle down to the realities of work and earning a living. I couldn't afford to go out very often.
Mum could see that I was upset, she said I was quite welcome to go back home to Burton with them, I could have my old room back. I was tempted, I thought about it, and decided to stay in Blackpool. After all, what would my old workmates think if I went crawling back, admitting defeat. I was so full of enthusiasm to leave home, I just couldn't go back and be the laughing stock of everyone. Mum and sister went home and I stayed. I chucked up my job, didn't like cafeteria work, and found a job on the Pleasure Beach.
Me and my sister on North Pier. I had blonde hair then, in fact you will see lots of diferent coloured hair in the photo's I was forever changing it.
My mum was small, chubby and dark, I was taller, skinny and blonde.
Mum came back for another visit a few months later, this time with her friend and neighbour, Mitti. The gorgeous lady in the middle is Lucy the Llama, she used to pull a cart around the Pleasure Beach, giving rides to the kids, they loved her.
This is where I worked. The donut stall was opposite the entrance to the Ice Drome, next to Watson Road. The front was all open counters, and we sold waffles, and hotdogs, as well as donuts. There was three of us, I was the new girl. Maura, in this picture, came over from Ireland every year to work the season, then go back home for the winter. Behind the chequered wall was the kitchen where we prepared the mixes for the donut and waffle machines. It was delivered in big bags, we put it in the mixer and added water.
Also the kitchen was where Ada cooked our meals, and where we ate them. When it was busy we could not get off the stall for hours, we just had to keep working. There was no proper breaks as such, we worked together as a team. If we were a bit slack, we could go walkabout, as long as the work was covered by the other two. Me and Maura used to give Ada housekeeping money. She would go to the shops to buy what was needed for our meals. She was of the old school, cooked everything from scratch, she served up some lovely dinners. I used to call Ada my Blackpool Mum, she made sure I had some proper food inside me.
The man in the next picture is Maltese Joe. He was an engineer on the Pleasure Beach, we always called him out when the donut machine went wrong. Joe and Ada used to curse and row with each other, but it was all in good humour. It was so funny to listen to, I can hear his voice now, bloody this and bloody that. Ha ha. Of course there was always a free meal for Joe from the stewpot, followed by a mug of tea.
Just along from our stall was lots of other game stalls where you could win prizes. We were employed by the Pleasure Beach, but these stalls were rented by individuals. There was always a lot of larking about going on. Everyone was one big happy family.
Now look at me, I've got red hair. Roll up, roll up, get your donuts here. Waffles were 1/- each, donuts three for 1/-, and hot dogs 1/6. A shilling is 5p in new money.
This is the only time I have been a bridesmaid. Carol got married, and this is her Uncle, a guest at the wedding. My dress is a pale lilac satin dress, with a little bit of lace round the bottom of the sleeves and the hemline. I am wearing a hairpiece to give a bit of height to my hair. The reception was held in her Aunties boarding house.
My boyfriend for a long time in Blackpool was Mike. He was the steady reliable type, and about 12 years older than me. I was the one with my head in the clouds, who would do things on a whim. Mike was a brilliant snooker player, he won a lot of tournaments, he could have been world champion if he wanted. My dress was yellow crimplene, with a chain belt.
After a hard days graft on the Pleasure Beach it was often wind down time at the Casino. Here we are with friends, my sister joined us for a few days. Blimey, that's almost a warbrobe malfunction there, an inch or two higher and you would have seen my knickers, ha ha. I knitted the pale blue short sleeved jumper myself.
I'll tell you about how they closed the Pleasure Beach down at night. Management would do a walkabout to check how many visitors were still going on rides. how many were still spending money. You paid for each ride individually, no wristbands like there are now. At that time there was no entrance fee, anyone could walk around whenever they liked even when the place was closed. When people started to drift away, the Laughing Man stopped laughing. He was the clown which sat in a glass box in front of the Fun House. When he stopped laughing we knew we had one hour left before the place closed. Word was passed around from stall to stall, like a chain reaction, so everyone knew how long it would be before we could lock up.
The next sign was, half an hour later, top lights would go. That's all the top lights on the rides would be switched off. Everyone could see that, so we knew we had half an hour left. We had already started winding down, emptying the machines, putting food away, cleaning down, and cashing up. The money in the three tills had to be counted separately, and logged into a book. Then the money was bagged up, ready to be paid into the Casino Offices. I was given the job of paying it in, because I could run the fastest. When more lights started going out, I could creep my way towards the building, keeping a look out for security, so as not to be seen, because we couldn't pay in until the siren went.
The siren was like one of those in the war, which warned of attack, everyone could hear it. As soon as it went I flew like the wind in one last sprint, and I was at the door running up the stairs to the paying in windows. I was nearly always the first one there.
Working on the Pleasure Beach was one of the happiest times of my life. I had moved from a bedsit to a flat, then another flat, I loved having my own space, my own privacy, and best of all my freedom to come and go as I pleased. At the end of my first season I thought I might have to go home, because I was out of a job for the winter. But then I found a winter job at Empire Pools, the football coupon place. It was office work, but in a big office so plenty of contact with mates. They liked people to go back every winter as it was their busy time, and it saved them training new people up. So for three and a half years I had a summer job and a winter job. It suited me just fine, plenty of variety. I look back with fondness at my time in Blackpool.
Did you see a rainbow last night? I did. Quick get the camera before it fades away.