When A Day At The Beach Was Fancy: Blackpool, 1954

Published September 21, 2015
Updated September 7, 2015
Blackpool beach 1954 ice cream

Ice cream is always the perfect snack for a day at the beach. It is just as true now as it was in 1954. Source: Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

As daylight hours start to dwindle and temperatures commence their downward slide, let us wax nostalgic about the summer via vintage photos of Blackpool, England. For more than 100 years, the quaint seaside town offered fun for residents and tourists alike: from donkey rides to beauty contests and diners to drink carts, the sun always shone in Blackpool..at least for a time.

In 1954, British photojournalism magazine Picture Post sent photographer John Chillingworth on assignment to Blackpool. Chillingworth was to document the thriving tourist location—between the years of 1901 and 1951, the seaside town’s population tripled—at what happened to be the end of its heyday.

Soon after Chillingworth snapped these color shots, Blackpool’s popularity fell. Improved highway infrastructure and affordable flights to warm destinations such as Spain presented vacation goers with more exotic (and attainable) travel destinations than Blackpool, and the northwest England town began to feel it. Fewer crowds meant fewer businesses, and the erstwhile resort town began to shrink in size and acclaim.

As with summer, though, when Blackpool was at its height, nothing else could compare. We look back at Blackpool’s glory days in Chillingworth’s photos:

Blackpool beach 1954 hijinx

Three women playfully pose around a gentleman who looks to have had a little too much fun at the beach. Source: Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

blackpool beach 1954 drinks

A young boy takes in all the goodies at the drink stand. Source: Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

blackpool beach 1954 riding donkeys

A young woman gets a helping hand while preparing to go for a burro ride. Source: Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Blackpool beach 1954 competition

A sign touts the Grand Final of the Bathing Beauties competition. Source: Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Blackpool beach 1954 bathing

A woman poses while she reads a magazine in the sun. Source: Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Blackpool beach 1954 nap

Even during a fun filled day by the ocean, sometimes you just need to find a place to take a nap. Source: Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Blackpool beach 1954 carriage

A group of women having a whale of a time during a beach side carriage ride in Blackpool. Source: Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Blackpool beach 1954 horse drawn

Many visitors enjoyed a ride in the horse-drawn carriage. Source: Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Blackpool beach 1954 tea

Source: The ‘Jugs of Tea, Minerals and Sandwiches’ stand at Blackpool beach. Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Blackpool beach 1954 Kens

Ken’s Hot Dogs food stand at Blackpool beach. Source: Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Blackpool beach 1954 diner

A full beachside diner would certainly be a popular 1950s hangout. Source: Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Blackpool beach 1954 packed

At the height of its popularity, Blackpool beach was bustling with tourists and locals alike. Source: Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Blackpool Beach 1954 Smiles

The Blackpool Tower is visible behind the posing beauty queens. Source: Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Blackpool Beach 1954 Boat

The Union Jack looks over one of the Blackpool beauty queens posing for the photographers. Source: Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Blackpool Beach 1954 Horse Donkeys

Donkey rides were a popular way to pass the time on Blackpool beach. Though the beach is no longer the hot destination it once was, donkey rides are still offered to the current day visitors. Source: Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Blackpool Beach 1954 Ball

One of the beauty queen contestants attempting to keep a beach ball away from three fellow contestants. Source: Photo by John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Erin Kelly
An All That’s Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she’s designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.