Uncle Toms Cabin – Bispam’s First Centre Of Entertainment – By Norman Cunliffe
A NEW PARTNERSHIP BRINGS SUCCESS
The business however was taken over by a relative, Robert Hard
man Taylor, a lodging house keeper from Blackpool in partner
hip with his friend William Parker. It cost them £5, in addition
to which they paid a rental of £7 per annum. It has been recorded
that Robert Taylor, who had come from the Rossendale area
only a few months previous, lived in the Lark Hill Street area of
Talbot Road which was then being developed by the owners of
the land, the Trustees of the Lytham School Charities. If this
is a true record he could not have lived there long for by 1861
he was living on Parker Street, where he, with his wife Martha
ran a lodging house as well as being joint owner of Uncle Toms.
Parker Street is now part of Abingdon Street but to many Blackpool residents it will always be thought of as May Bell Avenue.
The Taylor’s boarding establishment was named Rossendale
House and was close to the Railway Hotel at the corner of Talbot
Road which was run by a Robert Parker, whom Parker Street was
named after a mens outfitters is now built on the site of the boarding
house, Wlliam Parker who was probably related to Robert, was
also a lodging house keeper, having originated from Briercliff
and he lived at 14 Clifton Street, which for sentimental reasons
he named Briercliff Cottage.
Their partnership was an immediate success for by 1860 they
had been able to extend their premises and they went about
attracting more visitors to their enterprise by placing an advert
in the Fleetwood Chronicle, then the local newspaper, which
read Taylor and Parker, Refreshment rooms now open. Wines-
biscuits- cigars. Refreshment Rooms known as Uncle 1Tom’s
Cabin This name was now firmly established and soon under
the guidance of the two partners, together with assistance from
their wives, the suite was gradually developed. They were intent
on making Uncle Tom’s centre for entertainment and a three
piece band was formed consisting of a fiddler, pianist and cornetist
who played for dancing, the dancers being provided with a
wooden open air platform. It is said that prior to this they had
danced on the green sward’ The musical and entertainment
aspect of the business was no doubt a particular concern of
william Parker, who before coming to Blackpool had been an organist and bandsman. The buildings were illuminated by lights
operated from a vegetable gas which they manufactured on the site.
Then before two more years had passed they obtained a beer licence.
About this time the owner of the land on which Uncle Tom’s stood
was Dr. John Cocker, the father of William Henry Cocker, Black-
pool’s first mayor. Dr. Cocker had purchased from John Hull up-
wards of sixty acres of that part of the Knowle Estate adjacent to
the cliffs and it was his intention to lay out this new estate by building detached villas, each with four acres of land and having access to five hundred yards of private beach. This never came about, but Taylor and Parker were given the opportunity of buying the field on which the Cabin stood together with an adjacent field. They did not take up the offer but continued to lease the land and expanded their business even further by enlarging the premises, which then was used for accommodation as well as the beerhouse. It consisted of a bar parlour with three sitting rooms, a kitchen and a “back house on the ground tloor. Beneath were two large cellars, whilst upstairs were six bedrooms, a large sitting room and another large room.
This building took place between the summers of l1865/66, for an
advertisement in the latter year made reference to the premises being considerably enlarged since last season to atford superior accommodation’. The new premises were built of brick with one of the gable ends facing south west and it was from this direction that entrance to the house was gained, In addition a wing extended from
the middle part of the house in a north westerly direction. Adjacent
to these buildings on the landward side the concert hall and dance
pavilion were later erected. The business had certainly progressed
Since Margaret Parkin son first set out her refreshment stall.