A Word In Your Ear - February 13, 2014

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Blackpool’s licensing committee this week refused an application - by its own council and the police – to halt alcohol sales in the town centre from 3am 6am. This is the time period and area that account for 13 per cent of all Lancashire’s violent crime.

In my youth 2am seemed late enough to end a night-out on the town. These days, no sensible person I know would be there after midnight.

It’s informative to look back on our history.

Like most pubs, my local and Blackpool’s oldest inn, The Saddle, was tightly run by long-established landlords who were respected in the community. They even held Marton Council meetings in one of its rooms.

Just up Preston Old Road a friend’s grandfather, Albert Ashworth, was for years landlord of the old Boar’s Head - and also Mayor of Blackpool.

Go back further – to Victorian days – and pubs which still stand today were revelling in their greatest hour.

The Number Three, (Crown) at Devonshire Square, had whitewashed cobbled walls and a thatch, but boasted a concert hall with variety acts from 9.30am to 11pm. There was also a band for dancing, pleasure gardens serving teas and a bowling green.

Gentlemen travellers could stay in the inn overnight but, I’m sorry to say, ladies were only accommodated in the stables.

Midway up Whitegate Drive, the Belle Vue was so named because of its beautiful strawberry gardens with fruits trees, flowers beds and swings. There were also croquet and bowling, a conservatory and tea rooms, and both open air or ‘covered’ dancing.

This proud resort’s motto may be ‘Progress’ but, in some respects, we appear to have gone astray.

Yet, in its earliest and most raucous years, the newly appointed magistrates compared it to ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’!

It’s a colourful history where, incidentally, I’m setting my latest novel – a period mystery in Great Marton entitled ‘50 Shades of Bass’.

* Visit www.royedmonds -blackpool.com.