The Internet has been with us a number of years now and has touched everyone’s lives in ways which could never have been imagined before its inception. No one for example would be reading this document if it were not for the invention of the World Wide Web.
All these establishments along the Central Promenade would have been Bed and Breakfast type accommodation
As an information and educational tool the internet has had a profound effect on how we look for, buy and pay for things, we are now able to price things up without ever having to speak to anyone or leave our own front rooms. In the case of booking accommodation in Blackpool we can compare prices, read reviews from previous guests, look up quality star ratings and examine pictures of guest’s rooms, all these sorts of things would be impossible before the internet.
Before the Internet came along persons considering taking a traditional holiday or short break in Blackpool would rely upon recommendations from friends and family or perhaps look at adverts in some of the British Sunday papers which used to be the custom publications bed and breakfast and small hotel owners would advertise in. Of course this meant buying the paper and having to choose between any number of similar sized adverts with no idea to the quality and the location of those establishments.
Blackpool has been established as a Seaside resort since the middle of the 19th Century and became the holiday resort of choice for many of the mill towns and cities such as Bradford and Manchester where many thousands of people would travel for a week or two’s break on the new railway lines which were being laid. These became known as the ‘Wakes Weeks’ holidays and have a special place today in the development and industrialisation of the North of England.
In those days illiteracy was still quite high and many could not read newspapers which even back in Victorian times would carry adverts for Blackpool Bed and Breakfasts and Cheap Hotels in Blackpool. Of course the telephone system was still very rudimentary and out of reach to the masses of the population. On that basis the vast majority of these people travelled to Blackpool without having pre booked any accommodation nor done any research regarding prices or quality save what friends and family may have told them.
The practice then was to walk from the Railway stations, there were 3 in Blackpool, and find a bed and breakfast by knocking on doors and enquiring of availability and price. This led to entire streets being set aside as Visitor accommodation the evidence we can still see today in the numbers of small hotels still existing in places such as Lord and Banks Street close to what is now Blackpool North Station and Station Road which runs down to the Promenade from Lytham Road and used to have Blackpool South Station at its junction. (Station was moved in 1916). As demand increased and Blackpool became ever more popular in the early years of the twentieth century more trains were put on top bring people and more housing turned over to accommodate paying guests. Even today Blackpool demonstrates whole areas which are full of hotels and guesthouses.
Once availability had been established and prices agreed the landladies would then show the guests to the rooms, tell them what time breakfast and evening meals were served and at what hour the outside door would be shut and locked. Back in those days guests were only given a key for their own room and had to return to the guesthouse by a certain time to ensure they were not locked out of the street door. This practice was still quite widespread into the 1970’s until some establishments sought advertising advantage in offering ‘late keys’ which meant for the first time guests were free to come and go as they pleased 24 hours a day. Of course in order to keep with demand all accommodation providers eventually offered the same service.
Some Bed and Breakfast’s used the Term ‘Private Hotel’ but in reality it meant little as they were all pretty much alike
Thankfully as literacy rates across the population improved and communications infrastructure came into widespread use the ability to plan and book accommodation ahead, thus newspaper advertising became a stable way of the Blackpool accommodation providers to advertise their properties. Also come the 1960’s and another publication everyone will be familiar with ‘The Yellow Pages’ was born and became the choice of many when choosing goods, services and accommodation. But even so the small adverts these publications had did not offer any real choice other than a name, address, telephone number and maybe a few services.
In many ways potential visitors may well have stuck a pin in the relevant section for Blackpool and started from there. Once they had assembled a list they could have checked the street names against a Blackpool map working out where they best wanted to stay. They would then have to use the telephone to get prices and availability although without that friend or families recommendation they were still pretty much in the dark about quality.
So in this one easy to understand context we can see how a task performed by our great grandparents is now fundamentally easier due to the invention of the information superhighway .