Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The end of an era.

I was saddened by the news this morning that Fleetwood pier had been destroyed by fire. Not simply because this was yet another piece of our heritage lost to flames, each of those has saddened me, but this was Personal, with a capital P.
Some of you may never have heard of Fleetwood on the Fylde coast, up from Blackpool. At one time it was a thriving fishing port, and I was lucky enough to live there from the age of two to sixteen, starting off in an Edwardian house just two hundred yards from the beach, and from the window seat in the sitting room, if I stretched my neck a bit, I could see the pier.
It was a part of my daily life almost, it was just THERE, and you always thought it would be. The news this morning brought back so many memories; of a carefree childhood, of happy-ish school days, nature rambles with my classmates, tram rides to Blackpool on these noisy, clackety old things that I loved and now miss. Of playing on the beach, and watching the marionette show that set up in a small hut in the Marine Gardens each summer. Of thinking how strange it was to have two lighthouses, one of them inland - what was the point of that I wondered? And why was the prettier, more lighthousey of the two, the inland one?
I remember having lunch every Saturday with my late mother, in a cafe called The Morocco Bar or something like that I think, though looking back there wasn't much Moroccan about it. Of buying my first stockings and other undergarments from a shop nearby, run by a very precise and proper lady. I remember buying craft materials for various projects from the shop next door to the cafe, and of weekly visits to the big old library down by the docks, where it smelt of old wood, old books and old librarians sometimes!
I had my first job in Fleetwood too, working as a clerk in a carpet showroom, but then we left the town, moved a few miles nearer Blackpool, though I still visited Fleetwood regularly.
These days there isn't much of a fishing fleet left I don't think, but there is a huge shopping area on the rejuvenated quayside, and it's still a popular place to visit for holidays, quieter and more sedate in a way, than blowsy Blackpool, just along the coast.
But the pier was one of those traditional piers, lots of noise, slot machines, that annoying little marionette in a glass case that laughed and was supposed to make you laugh, though it never worked on me. Then there was that grabber in another glass case, which tempted you to try and get hold of something completely useless but which you longed to have all the same.. of course, you never managed it, but that didn't stop you trying. Sugary drinks and salty crisps, sand in your Clarks sandals and hair getting sticky from the salt spray if it was windy.
The walk along the pier, looking at the water through the gaps between the boarding, then leaning over to look at the brown foaming sea way below you, with adults warning you to be careful, and not lean over too far. But as a child, the dangers never entered your head really, did they?
So sad to think it has all gone, but let's hope it gets rebuilt, as near as possible to the original ideal of a seaside pier.


KittyB said...

Hello! Welcome to blogging, you see, we told you how easy it is. Looking forward to reading many more. You're on the Purplecoo blog roll now, so we can all find you easily.

Ivy said...

Wow you are quick a second blogg so soon even though it's a sad story. What has happened I thought England was so wet at the moment you can't even light an AGA .

Elizabethd said...

Two blogs already!
Nice to see you with us.

Blossomcottage said...

Well Done and welcome to the world of Blogging, I look forward to getting to know you much better through the wonders of cyber space.
Blossom x

Milla said...

Yes, easy peasy. Weston super Mare's burnt down recently. Why do these odd things happen in waves. You are obviously a blogger of discernment (meaning you've chosen the same style/"wallpaper" as me!)

Milkmaid said...

My ears pricked up when I heard the word Fleetwood, we used to visit quite a bit when I was a small child, but I remember very little about it and I confess I didn't realise it had a pier. Ivy's comment made me LOL, yeah how these piers burn down so regularly when they are very wet

Wooly Works said...

Like losing an old friend. I enjoyed reading your reminiscences and sharing your experiences there. Thank you PFG.

Frances said...

I have never been to Fleetwood, and only know Blackpool from a film called, I think, Bhadjis on the Beach.

All the same, from your words I feel as if I might have gained a vicarious memory of a place unknown.

Thank you.

Sally's Chateau said...

I heard about the loss of the pier, I think it terribly sad when a piece of heritage is lost under those circumstances. Loved your memories, hope you are settling comfortably into PC.


Hello there, nice to meet a new Purple coo. I too have a soft spot for piers, thee was one in teh city I grew up in a grand victorian affair that is now a restaurant and terribly posh I understand, and several on teh Island wher w had our holiday home one of which had an exotic bird avery at the end of the pier as wll as the old slot machines at teh beginning. I remember well teh log jam that you slotted your penny in to try and push all the other pennies over the waterfall and gain them as a prize, of course you never did win in the same way that the crane that picked up the soft toys always dropped them or run out of energy before it dropped them in the tray! AH but how we believed we could win!

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