WE TEND to think of Blackpool’s trams as a tourist attraction, but for Janice Miller (nee Smallwood) growing up behind the Golden Mile, they were a necessary way of getting to and from school.
She says: “I used to go to Sacred Heart in Talbot Road, so every morning I took the tram from Central Pier to North Pier, then back again late afternoon.”
Janice, now 63, a retired NHS occupational therapy technical instructor, was prompted to contact Memory Lane after a feature on her old home – the Concert Inn on the corner of Bonny Street and Chapel Street.
A once-popular watering hotel with visitors and locals alike, the inn was demolished in 1966, three years after the Smallwoods had been forced to move out.
The pub was a victim of the redevelopment which created a dual carriageway from the Promenade and, in the early 1970s, the police and court buildings and car park.
But for Janice and her dad Charles, the move was the result of brewery policy, which was enforced following the death of her mum Joan, as the company, Magee Marshall, did not believe in single licensees.
Janice recalls: “I was about 10 when we came to the Concert Inn in 1958, and growing up behind the Golden Mile was certainly an education.
“It was noisy, having my home in the middle of the holiday area, and you saw life from all sides – it was not all happy holidaymakers enjoying themselves.
“We were a very popular pub, and the police were always around, either in plain clothes or uniform, and I always felt safe.”
Like Janice, her dad had been born into the Magee Marshall pub trade, at The Grey Man, Bolton, where his mum was licensee.
In his late teens, he came to Blackpool as a barman at the New Inn, and, following war service, returned to the resort as head barman at the Squires Gate Hotel.
His first full licence after marrying Joan was the Railway Hotel, Pemberton, Wigan, followed by the Station Hotel, Atherton, and then the family moved to the Concert Inn.
After leaving Sacred Heart, Janice moved on to St Catherine’s High School for Girls, at that time based at Thames Road.
Janice, who lives in Marton, says: “Eighteen months after my mum died, we went to the Ship and Royal, Lytham, where my dad was made head barman.
“I served in the bar as well as being still room assistant and working in the silver service restaurant.
“When I married, the brewery offered me a pub but despite my father’s family through aunts and cousins having more than 250 years of pub service between them, I broke with tradition and made a life outside the licensed trade.”
Even so she can still rattle off the local Magee Marshall pubs including The Wellington and Pier, Station, Sherbourne Arms, King Edward, Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Victory, among others.