Blackpool’s early tourists arrive by horse and cart

Blackpool’s early tourists.

Blackpool’s early tourists had poor transport links to contend with. The distance from towns such as Bolton to Blackpool is around 40 miles and the soon-to-be resort proved popular with the working classes. By the early 19th century there was money to spend, however, that changed after the slump of 1826. Most turnpiked roads were in the South of the County, around Manchester. As a result access to Blackpool was difficult and many would-be travelers arrived on foot or by horse and cart.

Blackpool had no proper road access until 1781 when Thomas Clifton built a private lane. This enabled a stagecoach to run from Manchester and the upper classes began to visit. Bathing in the sea was thought to have health benefits and bathing was becoming popular with the gentry.

A horse-drawn charabanc, Gail Thornton

In the late 18th century Blackpool only consisted of a few houses. At the time accommodation was sparse and the “lower Orders” were often crammed into farmsteads, where they paid a few pence to the occupants. Inns used every available inch and this continued until the slump after the Napoleonic wars. At this time handloom weavers became far too poor for holidays.

Before the railway access was still difficult, but this did not stop the crowds from descending on the beaches of the Fylde coast. Contemporary descriptions by the aristocracy often describe the working classes as if they were a different species.

At the time horse-drawn Charbancs were used to transport large numbers of people. Char-a-banc means ” a car with benches”. Notably, a team of horses pulled the heavy contraption, with passengers precariously perched on top.

The railways arrive in Blackpool.

Blackpool in 1897

The railways first reached Blackpool in 1846. The building was simply known as Blackpool Station. Consequently, the Station was renamed Talbot Road in 1872, and later Blackpool North. The map above shows Blackpool North Station on the left.

What was to become Blackpool Central station was opened as Hounds Hill in 1863. Blackpool Central station was enlarged to 14 platforms by 1901 and the map above shows the previous rather small station in 1897. Most visitors arrived via Blackpool North Station. In 1903 a direct line from Kirkham was opened. The new line was five miles shorter than the coastal route via Lytham. It was known as the Marton line.

By Afterbrunel – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

By the 1960’s the car had taken over and the once busy station was closed in 1964. Notably, the M55 was later built along the trackbed of the Marton line and the station site became a huge car park.

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Further reading.

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