Museum scheme to bring the past alive

Staff and volunteers for the Blackpool Museum Project speak to members of the public about their memories of Blackpool.  Pictured clockwise from left are Wendy Stevenson, Barry McCann, Rachel Sykes and David Evans.

Staff and volunteers for the Blackpool Museum Project speak to members of the public about their memories of Blackpool. Pictured clockwise from left are Wendy Stevenson, Barry McCann, Rachel Sykes and David Evans.

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From sideshows on the Golden Mile to legendary boarding houses long gone – the years have been rolling back as residents and visitors alike recall their favourite memories of Blackpool past.

People have been sharing their recollections with researchers from the Blackpool Museum which is earmarked to open in the Winter Gardens in 2018.

The latest sessions saw ambassadors for the project chatting to people on the Comedy Carpet on the Promenade.

Barry McCann, 52, from Marton, recalled the old sideshows which lined the Golden Mile during the late 1960s.

He said: “I remember the old sideshows from when I was a kid, like the two-headed monster.

“You paid your money and went inside and it was made from papier-mache. There was also a ‘see the mermaid’ show which was a woman wearing a mermaid tail.”

Barry, also a Blackpool historian and tour guide, added: “Next to Funland there used to be a venue where they staged nude shows, but the models weren’t allowed to move because if they did they were breaking the law.

“They would lower the curtain and then the model would change her pose and the curtain went up again.”

Sam and Christine Rostron from Blackburn shared their memories with researchers of more than 50 years of holidaying in Blackpool.

Christine said: “When we got married we couldn’t afford a honeymoon but went straight back to work.

“But then we came to Blackpool for the day in July and we thought it was a great luxury just doing that!”

Sessions have been held not just in Blackpool, but around the country in Bradford, Bolton and Glasgow.

Wendy Stevenson from South Shore is among the volunteers who have been helping collect memories.

She said: “People have memories from being on the beach, the shows, donkey rides and the hotels they have stayed in.

“They are surprised there isn’t already a museum here and think it will be a fantastic new attraction for Blackpool.”

Rachel Sykes, community engagement assistant for the Blackpool Museum Project, said the research would be used as part of consultation for the next stage of securing Lottery funding, and as a basis for some of the social history of Blackpool which will be part of the museum.

She said: “People are very happy to reminisce with us and we have collected lots of anecdotes.

“One person remembered growing up here and her dad being a redcoat at the Metropole. The material we are getting is a really important part of our research for the development stage of the museum.”

n The next session will be in St John’s Square on Saturday June 27 between 10.30am and 1pm.