Saturday, June 06, 2009

Some Lytham Stuff

Our regular reader -- one of these days I’m going to find out who that is and send them a medal through the post for perseverance -- will already be aware, no doubt, that there’s nothing Michelle enjoys more than mooching and snuffling around at car boot sales and antiques fairs in search of some elusive, long-lost titbit of local historical interest. (Apart from Jaffa cakes. Don’t ask me why, because I’m not a fan of them myself, but she does like her Jaffa cakes.)
Anyhow, as you’d expect, she was more than chuffed when she discovered the following watercolour (on card…possibly the packaging from an old shirt or something) of the original Clifton Arms Hotel in Lytham, when she was rummaging through a box of old postcards in some Fleetwood jumble sale or other.

It doesn’t look much like the Clifton Arms nowadays, does it? That’s because it’s not.
Let’s have a bit of history to go with that image. According to John Porter’s ‘History of the Fylde’ (published in 1876), the original Clifton Arms Hotel (which is the one shown above, of course) had its own bowling green and cost seven shillings per day for board and lodgings with your own en suite dining room (sans wines and liqueurs) or six shillings a day without your own dining room (but still sans wines and liqueurs).
Sometime around 1828 the building itself was overlaid with a ‘thick coat of cement resembling stone’, which is how it appears in the picture.
The painting -- which cost Michelle the princely sum of two whole quid -- was signed by a certain W. Scott, so we put on our investigative heads and consulted the oracle of the Internet.
As it turned out we couldn’t uncover anything about him…except…well, take a look at this: 'Click here...'
That’s our painting that is. Okay…it’s not exactly our painting, because our painting’s the original and that one’s a scan, but it’s a reproduction of our painting, with some of the colours intensified, and then cropped down a bit to get shut of the rounded corners at the top…but it was obviously a scan that somebody had…er...scanned at some point previous to us actually purchasing it, which we thought was sort of fun.
Exactly how the painting ended up in a box of old postcards at the Marine Hall was anybody’s guess, so we wrote to the website’s owner to see if he knew. As it turned out the website’s run by Robert Haley, a Lytham historian and author, who informed us that:

“It (the painting that is) belonged to a lady in Ansdell and she had another by the same artist, depicting the White Cottage on Lytham front. About 1987 she allowed us to copy the two pictures and I included the hotel picture in a book.”

See, I knew it was famous. Sorry…I’m interrupting the flow:

“We were going to offer to buy the picture but were too late as the lady died about 1989 and the house was empty. If you ever sell it then please let me know as I would still be interested after 20 years!”

Sell it? Never! But we reckoned that Robert would give it a good home (probably better than ours at any rate), and we have got our own scanned copy now, so…
Anyhow, although the Clifton Arms in the painting was built in 1794 that wasn’t when the painting was actually…er…painted.
According to the scribble on the reverse, it was…done…in 1845, which is still quite old, but not nearly as old as the building, obviously.
That wasn’t the only item Michelle bought from the Marine Hall that Sunday. She’s a reckless spender is Our Michelle and couldn’t resist the following postcard, also priced at two whole quid (we ate dry bread and gruel for tea that night), which didn’t have any identifying labels but which we recognised as Clifton Street. (See, there is a connection.)

Yes, Clifton Street, Clifton Square, Lytham, back in the Edwardian period by the looks of it.
The original Clifton Arms Hotel shown in the painting stood at Clifton Square, although not in the Edwardian period as we’ll explain in a few moments, somewhere in the vicinity of our photographer we suspect. We’ve got another view of Clifton Square somewhere. Hold on and I’ll dig it out.

There we go. This is Clifton Square looking the other way...sort of.
Eat your heart out Google Earth Street…Image…What-have-you…Thing. We’ve got 360 degree panoramic views right here, and we can time travel as well.
Now, if you look at that building on the left hand side you’ll notice the words Ship Hotel written on it. (All right, the picture’s a bit grainy, but you can’t have everything. It is there if you look.)
And if you take another gander at the original painting at the start of this increasingly long article, you might just notice (although probably not, because it’s not the highest definition scan) that the building on the far right is called the Ship Inn…which seems a bit of a coincidence.
So here’s another photograph.

Again, it’s a bit grainy, but that’s the Ship Inn/Royal Hotel...more than just a coincidence as it happens. You can now have hours of fun comparing the buildings in all the photographs against the painting and go to bed replete from the architectural banquet.
Right…we then compared a few old maps, and it transpired that between 1841 and 1853 the original Ship Inn (shown above) and the original Clifton Arms Hotel were both torn down to make way for Park Road. Now that might sound like a travesty on the part of the urban planners, but you have to remember that the buildings were less than sixty years old at the time.
At first we thought that, if the date on the back of the painting was to be believed, then their demolition must have occurred sometime after 1845. And, as Robert Haley informed us:

The picture was painted after the hotel had closed and was converted to shops.

The Ship Hotel, as seen in our second picture postcard, was presumably erected on the site of the old Ship Inn.
So there we go. Investigative heads off. End of article.


Jayne said...

"...we can time travel as well"
Muuu-uum, Brian's got a worm hole in his backyard, he's got to be wormed again!

Brian Hughes said...


You can't travel via a wormhole.The theory runs that if you open one end of a wormhole up on Earth and the other on somewhere such as Pluto, then walk through it, you'd have travelled faster than the speed of light and therefore travelled backwards through time.

In reality you'd have done no such thing. You'd have just taken a short cut. You might as well walk towards the sun and claim the same thing.

These theories are just put about by quantum physics professors, who haven't got a clue what they're doing, to their deans, who also haven't got a clue what they're doing, in order to keep the funding coming in.

Ann oDyne said...

Well-spotted Michelle.
This week I have been wallowing in English pubs too - The Red Lion at Henley on Thames where Mrs Dixons cooking was served to the King, and her son went to the Colonies where a well known blogger is his direct descendant.

Brian Hughes said... that's Andrew's surname is it? That explains his obsession with electrical goods.

John said...

Nice post! All around fun, and no calories! JOHN :0)

Bwca Brownie said...

'so that's Andrew's surname is it? That explains his obsession with electrical goods'

Que Mr Fyldy?

The Red Lion Henley Dixons are one of his matriarchal antecedents so he has a clan name and no sassenach he.

Brian Hughes said...


No real substance either.


Dixons is/are a chain of electrical goods stores over here in Blighty. I think Andrew mentioned his surname was hyphenated as well...the other bit's not 'Wright' is it, as in one half of the 'Two Fat Ladies'?