The Liverpool lass who became a star

Cilla Black at a St Annes Civil Service Garden party'in 1969
Cilla Black at a St Annes Civil Service Garden party'in 1969
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As tributes are paid to Cilla Black, who died earlier this month, Memory Lane looks back at some of her Blackpool moments.

Her working career started as a Liverpool typist, but several years later, Cilla Black – real name Priscilla White – was playing Blackpool stages alongside names such as The Bachelors, and topping the bill herself.

Not only that, but she learned to drive – and claimed to have gotten pregnant – in the resort.

She told The Gazette in 1971: “I love Blackpool.

“It’s a fantastic place with every facility and a special atmosphere all of its own.

“I love the friendliness of all Blackpool artists in the season and it’s a job to keep my husband Bobby off the golf course!”

She said the town must be her “natural summer home”.

In 1972, she met one of her most dedicated fans while starring at The Opera House – Cora Nina Stansfield, 18, of South Shore, had been to seen Cilla’s show 59 times and intended to complete the 100 by the end of the season.

She passed her driving text in Blackpool at her first attempt, in September 1966.

The 23-year-old Cilla was appearing in Holiday Showtime at the ABC Theatre, Church Street, at the time and said she had 25 two-hour lessons, but was still nervous.

Cilla was delighted as she said “now I am really independent.”

She revealed the examiner was “very nice” and “had a lovely moustache.”

And Gazette reader John McGlynn was the man who delivered her first car to her.

He was working at Loxhams Garage on Whitegate Drive, now B&M Bargains, and said: “It was a Mini, and she was very excited at having passed her test.”

John also sold cars to Johnny Ball – a Triumph Spitfire, Freddie ‘Parrotface’ Davis – a Volvo with a parrot painted on the door and Ken Dodd – a vintage Austin Seve.

In 1995, The Gazette reported on the fact the Blind Date and Surprise Surprise star had mislaid her licence and applied to the DVLA for a replacement, only to be told the Swansea computer had no record of her having passed.

Gazette readers remembered the fact she passed the text under the stern gaze of Blackpool’s chief examiner, James Helmn, who lived in Stanah Road, Thornton.

In a backstage interview, in 1969, she told Gazette reporter Susan Greenhalgh about her life had changed since her singing career had taken off.

But she remained a down-to-earth character – working six days a week.

She told how she wouldn’t want her children to go into showbusiness and how she loved buying clothes.

She said: “I’m not buying as many white elephants as I used to, because I plan now.

“If I’m not going anywhere, I like pants and tight skinny sweaters.

“In the evening I like nice, very feminine clothes – sort of voile type things, short dresses.”

While in Blackpool, Cilla also took part in local events.

She was a judge in the Miss Blackpool Competition of 1969, she opened a coffee morning in 1066 for the Blackpool South Rotary Club at the Kimberley Hotel and she was a special guest at a garden party held by St Annes Civil Service.

In another Gazette interview, in 1966, she said: “I never really imagined myself in this position.

“Oh, I used to think it would be nice to go backstage and into dressing rooms, but I certainly never pictured myself as a star.”