Men living 300 years? And a new look for Talbot Square

The Clifton Hotel, Talbot Square, Blackpool, in 1962
The Clifton Hotel, Talbot Square, Blackpool, in 1962

By Barry Band

A New Year is with us. But how long will we still be writing 2017 on cheques and letters?

Promenade near Talbot Square, with the Metropole Hotel in the background, 1920s

Promenade near Talbot Square, with the Metropole Hotel in the background, 1920s

It may take a while before the default date kicks in.

2018 began with a browse through the Gazette of 50 years ago. Then I noticed I was looking at January 1967. But if I hadn’t made that mistake I would never have seen the whimsical piece that appears below. It was the Weekend Thought, that appeared every Saturday on the Seasider’s Diary page.

So, from 51 Years Ago, here’s a little gem of humorous writing, which carries the touch of RG ‘Bob’ Shepherd, who was the Gazette’s assistant editor and Countryside columnist. Or could it have been by Editor in Chief Sir Harold Grime? His style was similar.

300 YEARS OF LIFE

Blackpool tram No 158 near the Marton Depot ( left ) on Whitegate Drive in 1952

Blackpool tram No 158 near the Marton Depot ( left ) on Whitegate Drive in 1952

“This week produced an optimist. Or he could be a pessimist. It is a matter of opinion. He is a Moscow scientist who says men will soon live to be 300 years old. That presumably includes women, which should be wonderful news for cosmetics manufacturers. They will, he says, sleep only one hour per night and live on artificial foods.

“Cynics may say that a great many are not far from doing that already. Most important of all, the scientist says this will happen in his lifetime and he is 72.

“At first glance the prospect of the three-century span may seem decidedly attractive.

“Those who cannot find time for all the things they want to do will find pressure reduced. Those who are naturally lazy will have a splendid excuse for putting everything off still further.

“But it will not all be plain sailing. There are quite a number of snags the beneficent scientist may not have thought of. For example, everybody will presumably be expected to go on working up to the age of at least 250.

“Then there will be the youth problem. The tri-centenarians will have 200 years of being worried and being made indignant by the antics if pesky youngsters of 100. Imagine, too, the magnification of all the other inconveniences of advancing years, such as baby sitting.

“Nowadays, parents and in-laws are called on to officiate only in the case of grandchildren. Imagine the years of duty when ‘great’ is prefixed and multiplied by six!

“On the whole we do very well as we are. Life lasts long enough for most people and too long for some. It is not the number of the days or months or years that matter. It is what one puts into them and gets out of them.”

That little piece was published on Saturday, January 6, 1967. In the same edition there was a news story with a ring of today – headed “Talbot Square Will Have a New Look by Summer.”

Yes, in 1967!

The story was of a redevelopment of Talbot Square, the first of about four new layouts I can remember. In ‘67 they removed the three parallel traffic islands (east to west) which were the terminus of the old Marton tram route, which closed in 1961. They were replaced by a large island and a little one. Seems like every 10 years they have had another go!

The latest is to link the Promenade tramway with the new extension to the Talbot Gateway area. Another new look by summer!

Traffic note: 1967 development was the year bus stops were removed from Talbot Square and the first time traffic lights were placed on the Promenade.

PS. The 50 Years Ago items in the Looking Back column are from the correct year!