In the halcyon days, of the 1960’s, Liverpool was the mecca of Rock and Roll, Football and laughter. Long before the Costa’s, changed our holiday habits, we Merseysiders‘ had New Brighton. I lived in West Derby, a suburb of Liverpool, 10 miles from New Brighton. No problem as Liverpool had integrated transportation; a topic that even now, London is still debating. A journey to the Pier Head on the 19 bus and hop across to New Brighton on the Royal Iris, Royal Daffodill or the first available Ferry you could squeeze onto.
In those days, Liverpudlian children were low maintenance, independent and enthusiastic explorers. In the long summer holidays, we could set out to conquer the known world, with sixpence, a bottle of water and a Lemon Cheese ‘butty’.
Most of the time our destination would be the Liverpool Riviera of Seacombe, Egremont or the most exciting holiday playground in the North West, New Brighton. On hot summer days, in the 1960’s, up to 50,000 people could be found, cheek by jowl on the beach, the promenade, the Lido, the park or the most exciting place in the world, for us children, the fun fair.
The fun fair was situated opposite the Pier and entered via a set of concrete steps. The old wooden roller coaster was a particular highlight. The top bend of the roller coaster was right at the end of the promenade. As you swung out at the top, you felt you were going to end up in the Mersey. The screams mingled with the clunkety-clicking sound of the wheels on the wooden frame were particularly haunting, yet exhilarating.
The Ghost train was very atmospheric. The image in the form of a Red Devil was inviting and foreboding in equal measure. I think many a toddler, had a sleepless night, the very first time they laid eyes on, ‘Rojas Diablo’. I know I did.
For me, the most exciting ride, at the New Brighton fun fair was the wonderful, miniature railway. The station reminded me of the one depicted in ‘Brief Encounter’. When you stood on the concourse, you felt you were about to take an epic journey to some exotic land or Hogworts. You can see, from the picture, how many people were on the platform at any one time. This added to the sense of excitement and anticipation.
We always headed for the first class miniature coaches. The sense of proportion, you felt as a child, in the miniature railway carriage, was intoxicating.
The train itself, passed through a small tunnel, sprinkled with illuminated models. When the sun began to set, on a warm barmy evening, the tunnel took on a life, all of it’s own.
The fun fair, like New Brighton, fell into decay and was eventually demolished. All that is left is a shabby, unloved park. There is no monument, to this mystical, magical playground. For those of us, lucky enough, to spend our long, hot, summers at New Brighton, the memory of eating candy floss, drinking Vimto and smelling the ozone, infused with fish & chips, will be remembered forever.
Fifteen years ago, I was browsing, in an antique shop, in Bold Street, in Liverpool and found this old photograph which I purchased for seven pounds.
If you want to see more photographs of New Brighton, the old fun fair and many other fascinating images, go to http://www.20th centuryimages.co.uk or http://goo.gl/tgIrf.
For all those, thousands of people, who visited New Brighton, in the 1950’s and 1960’s, I hope I gave you a small flavour, of this wonderful place and time.
If you have any stories, you would like to share with me, please do not hesitate to contact me. My name is Steve Howard. You have been reading the Digital Circus.