I read with interest your online article about ‘The stark truth about growing up in Blackpool’ and was saddened by what I read.
As one of the older generation who grew up in Blackpool during and after the Second World War, I can agree that my time was a ‘gilded age’.
In fact we were the envy of most people who lived in industrial Lancashire and Blackpool was a great place for young people.
It was a safe place with many activities.
We used to roam the Moss in complete safety and had a pick of numerous fishing ponds, we had at least 14 cinemas, the beach, the sandhills .
There were four swimming pools including the open air baths, and an easy and cheap transport system to get anywhere as the trams ran right through the town via Waterloo Road, Whitegate Drive through to Talbot Square and toFleetwood and Squires Gate.
We had ways of supplementing our pocket money, I worked as paperboy, in a bakery, market gardens and on Saturdays met the Wakes Week holidaymakers with my hand cart as a “Carry Your Bag Sir” boy.
The streets were almost free of cars and were the site of many street games which I believe are no longer allowed.
In Marton, where I lived, our mothers worked in Burtons Biscuit Factory in Vicarage Lane.
There was also in the same area Eaves Brickworks and Burlinghams coachbuiders .
We could play in the parks without fear as each one had a park keeper.
In the 1960s ,I found work servicing electrical appliances for Hoover Ltd in Layton and in the evenings I worked on the Pleasure Beach .
I emigrated from Blackpool in 1964 to Australia and New Zealand but still remember the happy times in Blackpool.
I still read The Gazette on- line and follow the fortunes or misfortunes of Blackpool FC.
Here’s hoping the situation improves for young people there . If not, why not follow my example and emigrate, you would never regret it.
Bay of Plenty
Practical skills needed
Your in-depth survey of Blackpool’s social problems is shocking but should surprise few, for the many ills of the town are long-standing and the result of multi-varied factors including location, lack of sizeable industry and a plethora of establishments that attract the unemployed and poor.
Given this, it is exceedingly hard to see where the additional employment opportunities will come from.
Even if they did materialise, I very much doubt they will significantly reduce the number of NEETS (Not in education, employment or training) your article quotes.
The reason being the lack of employable skills these young people possess.
The recent report on Blackpool schools by Ofsted is of the utmost importance in this respect.
It simply cannot be swept under the carpet for ideological or political reasons.
Far too many pupils leave school at 16 unable to write a CV, draft a letter in clear, grammatically correct English, or handle basic maths.
Interview techniques are poor and few even understand how to dress appropriately for an interview.
A major change to the school curriculum from the age of 14 years could eradicate many of these weaknesses.
For example, (and I speak as a former assessor and university lecturer) most pupils in lower sets would benefit from lessons on how to approach an interview, how to draft a letter instead of having to study Shakespeare and poetry.
Furthermore, what is the point of forcing these same pupils to spend numerous hours trying to solve algebraic equations and trigonometry problems – problems they will seldom if ever encounter in the world of work.
These pupils should concentrate in their final two years on practical skills.
For far too long in this country, unlike the USA, we have regarded those who work with their hands as a form of lower life.
It is high time this stopped. Plumbers, joiners and electricians are needed not people emerging from university clutching a degree in media studies.
Dr Barry Clayton
Old school friends
I often read through and enjoy the Blackpool Gazette online, especially Memory Lane, and noticed an article by Sue Tandy (nee Harrison) who had spotted an old friend from Hodgson School and sent in her own photographs from Carleton Gala.
Although I do not know Sue, one of the pictures showed her with two friends, one of them called Lynn Cowell.
I went to Carleton school and remember Lynn Cowell. I also went on to Hodgson School.
I really would love to hear from anyone who is still around from those years.
Margaret Naylor (nee Leadbetter)
PO box 345. Terrey Hills, NSW 2084 Australia