The earliest detailed descriptions of Blackpool were written by William Hutton(1723-1815), a self-made businessman, writer and historian, and his daughter Catherine (1756-1846), who had visited the village in August and October 1788. Coming from Birmingham, the Huttons were unusual visitors, the majority of whom came from the growing urban populations of Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire.
In 1781 stagecoach services began to run during the summer from inland Lancashire and the West Riding and in 1783
accommodation for bathing was advertised in Manchester, Catherine Hutton characterised Blackpool’s visitors in terms of the better company, which consisted of Lancashire gentry, Liverpool merchants, and Manchester manufacturers as well as the more lowly ‘species called Boltoners’ which she described as rich, rough manufacturers A visitor from Halifax at the end of the 18th century described Blackpool as a ‘healthy spot’ that ‘derives its chief support from Preston, Blackburn, Manchester, Wigan, and Bolton: and
immense quantities of people resort here from Leeds and other parts of Yorkshire The Yorkshire House was described as ta kind of lodging-house for people from Halifax.
The Huttons found that Blackpool attracted a broad cross-section of the population. William noted that during the 1760s visitors had been ‘chiefly of the lower class and in 1788 he recorded the presence of the inferior glass whose sole motive for visiting this airy region, is health7Richard Ayton, who passed through Blackpool in 1813, recorded that ‘Among the company are crowds of poor people from the manufacturing towns, who have a high opinion of the efficacy of bathing, maintaining that in the months of August and September there is physic in the sea. The presence of a significant number of people of the ‘inferior class’ marked Blackpool out from other resorts. For instance, Margate was attracting London tradesmen as early as the 1770s because they could reach the resort on sailing boats along the Thames. However, it was not until teamers appeared in 1815, and especially after the arrival of the railway in 1846, that Margate gained significant numbers of
Wealthy visitors travelled to Blackpool by coach, but others might travel more cheaply by cart, though Ayton believed that some of the hardiest had made it on foot from Manchester. They apparently came for three or four days and paid 9d a day for lodgings, which involved five or six beds ‘rammed into each room, and five or six people into each bed Revd Thornber provided a similar account of working-class visitors fleeing from their ‘confined, filthy, smoky towns to bathe and drink seawater during the warmest summer days.
In 1827 an influx of visitors from Blackburn, Burnley, Colne, Padiham and the borders of Yorkshire arived in carts and they were nicknamed ‘padjamers’ because of the colour of their stockings. To be accommodated some slept four to a bed in shifts and ‘out-houses and barns were in high request, though perhaps the most unlucky had to sleep in coaches or in bathing machines.
The prominence of lowerclass visitors in contemporary accounts is probably because their presence was noteworthy, but this should not disguise the fact that Blackpooľ’s early visitors were broadly middle class.
Blackpool in 1788 consisted of a scatter of about fifty houses, with six of the largest being used as the principal accommodation for visitors. In August 1788 Catherine Hutton stayed at the house of 80, which is called the Lane’s End, though there was another house capable of housing 100 visitors, figures achieved, according to Richard Ayton, by ‘a system of packing From north to south along the seafront the houses were known as Bailey’s Hotel (on the site
of the Metropole), Forshaw’s Hotel (where the Clifton Hotel now stands) Hudson’s Hotel (Lane’s End according to Catherine Hutton), Hull’s Hotel (later the Royal Hotel), the Yorkshire House and Foxhall. Accommodation was also provided at Bonny’s-in-the-Fields, which was located near where the King Edward VI Hotel would later be constructed, and at the Gynn, to the north of the village.
The form of some of the seafront buildings is known from engravings and early photographs. Bailey’s Hotel, one of the houses in existence by the 1780s, was a substantial three-storeyed Georgian house with a large cross wing lit by a semi-circular bow window (Fig 3). Photographs of the Clifton Arms Hotel taken before the mid-1870s show the early part of the building that was Forshaw’s Hotel. Like nearby Bailey’s it was a substantial, three-storeyed Georgian building and had a pair of three- storeyed bay windows facing the
sea (Fig 4). After the Restoration, Edward 1yldesley built Foxhall, a small sequestered residence as a summer retreat surrounded by a high wall of cobble stones, and although the house was only a modest sized structure, it was considered a stately mansion in comparison with the few clay-built and rush-roofed huts” (Fig 5). Each of its two floors apparently contained four or five rooms and one wing was used as a chapel, which survived longer than
the rest of the house.