1930s bathing beauties with bags on their heads?

A strange beauty contest at Blackpool's South Shore Baths in July 1934, featured in a scrap book (below)  dropped off at The Gazette office by a reader from the Revoe area. Former Miss World Ann Sidney (in the skirt) was identified after a Memory Lane appeal for information on a 1967 beauty contest picture.
A strange beauty contest at Blackpool's South Shore Baths in July 1934, featured in a scrap book (below) dropped off at The Gazette office by a reader from the Revoe area. Former Miss World Ann Sidney (in the skirt) was identified after a Memory Lane appeal for information on a 1967 beauty contest picture.
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Now here’s a Blackpool beauty contest with a difference, found inside one of three scrapbooks dropped off at The Gazette reception in Avroe Crescent.

The books contain hundreds of cuttings from The Gazette, other newspapers and magazines, mainly from the 1920s and 30s. Subjects range from royalty to showbusiness, as well as events in both the Blackpool and Manchester areas.

Three hardback scrap books left at The Gazette office by a reader from the Revoe area

Three hardback scrap books left at The Gazette office by a reader from the Revoe area

And if the owner, or anyone else who knows who these books belong to, would ring Memory Lane on (01253) 361791 or email then we can return them.

But back to the intriguing picture which shows a line-up of young ladies in July 1934.

The explanation for the “anonymous” look is made clear in the caption: “So that the judges would not be influenced unduly by a pretty face, the competitors in the search for the shapeliest girl at the South Shore Baths this week had to wear ‘Klu Klux Klan’ masks.”

Thankfully it is a concept that would be outlawed in today’s more enlightened society!

A Miss Blackpool heat in July 1967. The girl on the left is Elizabeth  Lamb, of Morecambe. the girl on the right is Barbara Ponsford, of Chesterfield. The other two are unknown

A Miss Blackpool heat in July 1967. The girl on the left is Elizabeth Lamb, of Morecambe. the girl on the right is Barbara Ponsford, of Chesterfield. The other two are unknown

Still with beauties, there was no shortage of help from readers after Carolyn Dee, from Stockport, Cheshire, asked if anyone could help to identify the four women in a photograph left to her in a huge collection by her late friend, press photographer Leo Carter.

She knew that Elizabeth Lamb was first left and Barbara Ponsford far right, but needed names for the other two.

Carolyn says: “Your appeal brought five phone calls and an email and I was also invited to a dinner attended by former bathing beauty winners, at the Midland Hotel, Morecambe, where I was able to display my box of Leo’s beauty queen photographs.”

Among those readers who responded was Brian Cleminson, of Thornton, who told Carolyn one of the girls was Patricia Minto, who he thought lived in Cleveleys, and the one in the skirt was Ann Sidney, who had been Miss World 1964. Brian says: “Ann Sidney’s journey to Miss World had started in Blackpool. She had won a beauty pageant in Bournemouth in the spring of 1964.

“In one article she revealed that she had been sent lots of brochures about beauty pageants and saw that you could make money just by entering the heats. So she went up to Blackpool for the heats, and within three weeks was crowned Miss United Kingdom, which put her in the running for Miss World.

“Three months later she was in London, staying at the Waldorf Hotel and competing against 65 other girls all hoping to be crowned Miss World.”

Carolyn says: “I actually managed to speak to Ann Sidney, who comfirmed she was the lady in the spotted skirt, being a judge on that day. She was delighted to see the photograph, so thank you again for carrying my appeal in Memory Lane and ending a nine year search.”