Tag Archives: blackpool

hooray! hooray! it’s a holi-holiday!

Yup – that’s right. It’s time to load up the car; prepare the stock of Heinz Sandwich Spread sandwiches; buy the Beano Summer Special and an I-Spy book for the journey, and head off to Blackpool for our Summer Holidays!



Actually, I DO wish I was going to Blackpool this week, because the annual Rebellion punk festival is back on this weekend coming after an absence of three years. But that’s by the by.

As we did last year, Paul and I are gong to rest up on the blog for a few weeks … BUT WE WILL BE BACK IN EARLY SEPTEMBER with more nostalgia and memories of the Greatest Decade, the ’70s.

Thanks again to all who have contributed over the eighteen months or so since we launched, and thanks also to those who have read and enjoyed the posts.

Have fun, the last few weeks of summer (I think our summer, here in the west of Scotland, was a week past on Tuesday) and we’ll be back soon.

(Remember – the Facebook Group will still be available for any ’70s discussions, so feel free to make pertinent posts.)

Sorry to leave you with this, but it HAD to be done!

JACKIE & PAUL

fairground attraction – it’s got to be-ee-ee perfect!

(Post by Mark Arbuckle of Glasgow – November 2021)

Like most people I have a rather complicated relationship with Fairgrounds, The Shows, Amusement Parks, whatever you like to call them.

Excited, scared and bravado in equal measures.

My earliest memory is being taken to the Kelvin Hall Circus and Carnival in the early 60’s where the smell of the  elephants left an olfactory impression on me for many, many years!

Clydebank had it’s own annual fairground on the waste ground where St. Andrew’s HS would be built in the 80’s and then  demolished 20 years later.

I was taken to there in 1967 at age of nine by my grandparents. I thought I’d start with something gentle and build up to the more fearsome looking rides.

I chose a sedate looking motorcycle merry go round. Off it went with myself and a few other kids grinning at their family members.

After a few laps the leather clad, carny thought he’d have a bit of fun and cranked up the speed! The motorcycle had a purple velvet seat and I started to slide off it.

No seatbelts or H&S in those days!

The carny continued to increase the speed until my torso was now at right angles to the bike!I was holding on grimly to the handlebars.

The other kids were screaming and so was my Gran as she saw me whizzing round with my head barely 6″ from the ground! A man rushed up to the carny and grabbed him, shouting ‘Stop the Bloody Machine!’
It began to slow down and another man helped me to regain my seat!

My Gran was crying and very, very angry as she accosted the now sheepish looking carny with a few expletive deletives!!

I did return the following year but avoided THAT ride!

In the late 60’s my family’s annual holiday was two weeks in a small hotel in Whitley Bay.

Four kids, my parents and stacks of luggage all packed into a car for what seemed like an eight hour journey!
Are we there yet?…

The main attraction of Whitley Bay was The Spanish City!

An amusement park which at the time boasted Europe’s Biggest & Fastest Rollercoaster.

I LOVED IT!

I went every day with my siblings. There was a machine with a manical laughing clown just inside the main entrance.

Maybe that’s where Stephen King got his idea for IT!

I was initially a bit scared of the ‘Biggest Rollercoaster in Europe’ but once I’d experienced it for the first time I excitedly jumped off and rejoined the queue to go again!

There was also a Ghost Train which I thought was very tame until  somebody in the dark shadows, dressed all in black touched my face as the train slowed down at a corner! I nearly jumped out of my seat!
Again no seatbelts!

Local lad Mark Knopfler wrote a song about this magical place in 1980.

Tunnel of Love‘ by Dire Straits

Yeah, now I am searchin’ through these carousels and the carnival arcade
Searching everywhere, from steeplechase to balustrades
In any shooting galleries where promises are made
To rockaway, rockaway
Rockaway, rockaway
From Cullercoats to Whitley Bay. And to Rockaway

‘And girl it looks so pretty to me like it always did
Like the Spanish city to me when we were kids
Girl it looks so pretty to me like it always did
Like the Spanish city to me when we were kids.’

Sadly, after 93 years as an amusement Park, The Spanish City closed in 1999.

However it reopened in 2018 as a spectacular wedding and conference venue! Both Mark Knopfler and Sting attended the Grand Reopening!
I will visit it very soon!

Our last family holiday was in 1972 in Blackpool.

The obvious attraction was The Pleasure Beach and yes I visited it a couple of times over the fortnight. To be honest I was more attracted to a much smaller showground in the north of the town.

I was nearly 15 and was captivated by everything about it! 
My every sense was on overload!

The smell of grease, both from the rides and burger stands.
The sweet scents of Candy Floss and Popcorn.
The intoxicating aromas of perfume, perspiration and peanuts!

The sounds of laughter, squeals of delight and tantrums….and that was just me!

And the sights!

OH MY THE SIGHTS!

Pulsating lights, brightly painted rides, the strutting exotic carnys and, most memorable of all, the pretty girls in denim jackets and short skirts! Giggling in packs!

And of course the music of the early 1970’s pounding out from huge speakers on every stall and ride!

‘Lola,’ ‘Layla,’ ‘Let’s Work Together’ (and other songs’ names that begin with L!)

Three Dog Night‘s ‘Mama Told Me Not To Come
Whenever I hear this song I’m instantly transported back to that show ground!

Black Night‘ by Deep Purple, ‘All Right Now ‘by Free.’ In The Summer Time‘ by Mungo Jerry ‘Son of My Father ‘by Chicory Tip, ‘Blockbuster’ by Sweet and the glorious anthem of 1972, ‘Schools Out’ by the inimitable Alice Cooper!

I was totally in my element!

Every day I endured walks along the promenade,  shopping or a bit of sunbathing, (where I actually got burned!… Yes in Blackpool!?!) but the whole time I was anticipating the delicious excitement of the evening to come! 

By December 1974 I was going steady. My great friend Rab was going on a first date with a girl and I suggested we go as a foursome to The Kelvin Hall Carnival.

In preparation for his date, Rab bought new jeans and shoes and a trendy short beige raincoat. The kind that is back in fashion now!

I have to confess that I can’t remember his date’s name….
(I don’t think I ever knew it) only that everyone knew her as Duck!?!…..

We excitedly browsed the stalls and bought hot dogs slathered in onions and mustard. Then we had Candy Floss, Cola and Chocolate.

Rab’s date was going very well.

We’d already gone on the obligatory (for courting couples) Ghost Train and Dodgems where you were allowed, nay encouraged, to smash into each other’s cars!

And we’d all tried to win a prize at the clearly rigged shooting gallery and throw the ring over the jam jar to win a goldfish.

Rab then said that we should have a go on The Waltzer.

He went on first followed by Duck, then myself and my girlfriend.
We settled in, pulled the safety bar up to our laps and off we went.

It immediately accelerated and a carny (maybe a relative of my torturor in 1967) jumped onto the back of our car and started to violently spin it, to our initial delight.
After about two minutes I glanced to my right and saw that Duck’s face had totally drained of colour and she was rocking forward over the safety bar. She suddenly sat back upright and started to retch, turning towards me…..

At the last second I gently but firmly guided her head in the other direction.

She then vomited spectacularly all over Rab!

And remember our waltzer carriage was still spinning at top speed!

Rab was covered in undigested hot dog, candy floss and a brownish bile from his head to his knees! So too was poor Duck and she was still vomiting but now into the carriage at our feet!

Mercifully the ride finally slowed down and came to a stop. Unbelievably the carny was shouting at us that we owed him money to clean the carriage.
Big Rab with vomit still dripping from his hair told him to go forth and multiply!

We all headed to the toilets.
I helped Rab to clean up and my girlfriend attempted to perform a miracle on Duck!

Rab used hot water to clean his hair, face, coat and jeans and then used every toilet roll and paper towel in a vain attempt to dry off.

The girls finally emerged from the Ladies about 45 minutes later. Duck was still very pale,  disheveled looking and, to be honest, still a bit smelly.

We unanimously decided to call it a night. So we headed out on to a chilly Argyle Street to catch the bus home to Clydebank.

Nobody spoke much on the journey home.

Sadly we never ever saw Duck again! (Maybe for the best…)

Hopefully she is now a loving grandmother and entertains her grandchildren with stories of her past….

But maybe NOT this particular one!!

Teenage kicks – Alan Fairley

They call him the Midnight Rambler

Where were you brought up: Westerton

Secondary school: Bearsden Academy

Best mates at school: Gordon Brownlie, Bobby Williamson

Funniest memory from school: Watching an older pupil (who shall remain nameless) dousing a teacher’s car with paint stripper

First holiday with your mates in UK:  Blackpool 1975 with Colin Maxwell (Courthill), Kenny Groves (Killermont) and Rab Ballingall (Milngavie).

Holiday Memory: Rab punching a guy in the gents toilet in a Blackpool pub then watching the towel dispenser fall from the wall onto the guys head as he lay on the deck…. when you’re down you’re down

First holiday with your mates abroad: school trip to Rome in 1970.

Who With: The aforementioned Bobby Williamson, Hal Rollason, the late Nicky Mawbey, the delectable Maureen Gibson and many others.
Memory: Drinking Martini in the girls’ bedroom one night along with the aforementioned Bobby Williamson, Maureen Gibson and others then cramming into the shower cubicle with two of the guys when one of the teachers (Miss Fisher) burst in.

It was in one piece when we left it!!

First job:  Shipping Clerk with J S Nowery in Hope Street, Glasgow( the nearest I got to a life at sea). Spent 3 months there then worked at Bank of Scotland, Bearsden Cross. Gave 37 years of my life to that company… but don’t get me started.

Musical hero in 70s: Eric Clapton… loved the street cred you got when walking around the playground with a Cream album wedged under your arm

Favourite single: Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who.
Classic songs like that and In My Own Time by Family offset the Thursday night banality of Top of the Pops

Favourite album:  Get Yer Ya Yas Out by the Rolling Stones.
Stunning guitar virtuosity by debutant Mick Taylor who took over from the late Brian Jones and helped the band quash the cries of ‘No Stones Without Jones’.

First gig: Mungo Jerry, Kilmardinny, Bearsden 1970
Memory- sitting behind a heavily inebriated Norman Clement who was repeatedly shouting ‘you’re shite’ at vocalist Ray Dorset throughout the gig

Favourite movie in 70s: That’ll Be The Day starring Ringo Starr and David Essex. Think it was the La Scala in Sauchiehall Street. 
This was my first (and last) date with Eleanor Soutar,  classy chick from Iain Road who went to one of the posh schools – Laurelbank maybe?

Who was your inspiration in 70s: Arthur Blessitt (American Evangelist)- I’ve always admired people who stand up for their beliefs and this guy was totally dedicated to his cause. Met him once in Balfron, he put his hand on my shoulder and it felt like an electric bolt was going through me.
Whatever he had, it was powerful.

Posters on your wall:  I bought  the Jenny Fabian Groupie poster in an outpouring of testosterone with my first wage from Nowery’s but she soon gave way to Clapton and Hendrix..and of course Mott The Hoople

Honky Tonk Woman

What do you miss most from the 70s:  Walking up to a turnstile at a football ground and paying cash at the gate. Nowadays it’s a logistical nightmare buying tickets in advance

What advice would you give your 14yr old self: I’ve always regretted not going to University straight from school. I was too keen to get out and earn a wage in order to buy records. Take your chance with further education. You can study with real purpose when you get to that level. (I finally got my degree when I was 27 so it’s never too late)

70s pub session, you’re allowed to invite 4 people from 70s:

Bob Dylan

Jimi Hendrix

Jimmy Bone

Pamela Fairley (my late wife)

Venue – Captains Bar, Edinburgh

Alan & Pamela

Blackpool (owes the charmer under me)

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, April 2021


There’s always been something about Blackpool…. a bit like the Kelvin Hall, The Kelvingrove Art Gallery or The University Café… it’s been a ‘happy place’ of mine.

My earliest memories of the Lancashire Riviera as great as they are, are mixed with trauma, however.

My first visit was in the summer of 1963, I was 5 years old and the only reason I remember anything about my inaugural trip is because of an incident that has stayed with me ever since.


Cliff Richard was mega in 63, even as a 5 year old I’d already seen one of his movies – Summer Holiday, dragged along to the La Scala in Sauchiehall St, to see it by my Mum.

What wasn’t there to like about Cliff – he was clean cut, he could sing, he seemed like a nice guy, he could also reverse park a double decker bus and navigate it all the way to Athens, whilst singing and dancing, with not a single hair out of place!

We’d got tickets to see his summer show at the ABC in Blackpool during our stay in 1963.
I don’t remember too much about the performance, just a communal feeling of excitement, and a collective sense of awe that we were all in the presence of this matinee idol.

What I do remember is that at some point during the performance I needed to go to the loo and being a big boy, I was happy to do this on my own….. plus Mum was transfixed by the Bachelor Boy and Dad by the scantily clad dancers.

It was all going well until on my return I made a wrong turn and exited a fire escape door into an enclosed courtyard.

The fire door slammed shut behind me and I was locked out of the theatre with no means of getting back in OR getting out of the enclosed courtyard, I remember shouting for my Dad in vain and it felt like I was there for hours but he was clearly oblivious to the empty seat beside him…. having too good a time.
My Mum I could forgive; it was Cliff for god sake, but my Dad was in big trouble…

HANGING OUT WITH MY MUM IN 1963

Indignation quickly turned to panic, and I remember thinking I would be stuck there on my own forever before a nice lady who lived in one of the flats overlooking the courtyard intervened. Telling me from her 3rd floor balcony, not to worry and that everything would be okay.

Eventually, my Dad tore himself away from the can-can girls, and by tracking my steps, figured out my rookie error.

He thought the whole episode was hilarious, I thought it was extremely poor parenting!

Cut forward a couple of years to our next visit and the big summer show was Morecambe & Wise; I can’t profess to being a fan as a 7-year-old, but I do remember the guy with the glasses was funny.

By age 7, I was dazzled by the bright lights and the goodies on display at Blackpool, there were toys and treats everywhere.
I had also discovered the Pleasure Beach and wanted to go on all the rides, particularly the Waltzers which remained a big favourite, but once again it was a traumatic experience that holds my memories.

On the last day of the holiday, we were due to go to the Pleasure Beach for a last hurrah before heading up the road and I was so excited to be going on all the rides again.

I can’t remember what I was doing (or thinking!) exactly, but at some point before breakfast I got one of my Dad’s lead fishing weights lodged up my nose and presumably swallowed it, sniffing, instead of blowing my nose as instructed.

This resulted in a quick exit from Blackpool and a dash back to Glasgow to visit our local doctor.

Why we couldn’t have gone to a local hospital in Blackpool (via the Pleasure Beach!) I don’t know, but I do remember a long, tense, silent journey back to Glasgow, feeling both sheepish yet sorry for myself.

I’m guessing the lead content of the fishing weight is what would have caused the panic, but the Doc said there was nothing to worry about and the lead weight would pop out in my next poop, pretty promptly.

Two trips to Blackpool, two traumas.

I can’t remember how many times we returned to Blackpool before I went back there again in 1974 with my mates.

I do recall seeing the brilliant Tommy Cooper one summer c.1968 but there was no associated trauma to remember the trip by… hence the lack of any further recall about the visit.

Fast forward to July 1974 and my pals had just came back from a Glasgow Fair spent in Blackpool regaling tales of high jinks and romance.

One of the lads even had a penpal from Preston now, she was so keen that he even had a letter and present waiting for him at home on his return…..

The Three Degrees – When Will I See You Again…. ahhhh.

I had been unable to go with them in July because of a family holiday but I couldn’t wait for the next 8 weeks to fly by so that I could get to this Mecca of fun for the ‘September Weekend’ break.

We set off from Buchanan St bus station at midnight, which looking back seems strange as Blackpool is only 3 hours by car from Glasgow, but for whatever reason it took us 8 hours to get there.

The bus had been organised by Clouds Disco (later to become the Apollo) and there was a party atmosphere on the bus as most of us knew each other, or at least recognised the faces.

On arrival, we made the rookie mistake of hitting the pub as soon as it opened.
Day time drinking was a new concept to me, but alcohol was probably the last thing I needed, I was already as high as a kite on adrenaline and buzzing with anticipation for the weekend to come

We were hammered by early afternoon and that first day became a bit of a blur if I’m honest, culminating in some very strange headwear choices and photographs.

Most of us had turned 16 in the summer of 74 so getting into pubs and clubs wasn’t something we took for granted but there seemed to be no barriers in Blackpool as well as a wealth of choice.

Our preferred venue as it was for a lot of Glaswegians was Mama & Papa Jenks, a big sprawling pub with waitress service…. so you didn’t even have to take the risk of going to the bar to get served.
Jenks had three levels, a bar at ground level, a nightclub above it, and a gay bar in the basement.
The set-up was great but a bit of a shock to the system, particularly when you were used to sneaking into traditional working man’s pubs & saloons in Glasgow and hiding in the corner.

The nightclub at Jenks was pretty good if you wanted to spend the whole evening on-site but we found a great little Soul club nearby with a brilliant DJ that just nailed the music.

To be fair there were a lot of great soul artists/records in the charts at that time – George McCrae, Barry White, Don Covay, Johnny Bristol, The Tymes, The Commodores and The Hues Corporation, etc.
The DJ was playing all that stuff plus a load of imports and remixes we had never heard before.

Learning from our first day we paced ourselves over the rest of the trip, spending time on the Pleasure Beach and leaving the pubs till the evening.

I know Blackpool may not have the best image, but we were having a ball and when it came time to contemplate leaving, a few of the lads said they wanted to stay on… as it transpired some did through no choice of their own.

It seemed half of Glasgow was in Blackpool that weekend which contributed towards a great atmosphere, but the place wasn’t without its tensions.

Come the last night, we were in Jenks having a farewell drink and killing time before catching the bus home, and a massive fight broke out, between the Possil boys and the Calton boys…. and when I say massive, I mean chairs, tables, glasses, bottles, the lot.
The fight spilled outside onto the street like one of those bar room brawls you see in Westerns and it wasn’t long before the police weighed in.

A lad we knew, Hughie Kinnaird, was sharp enough to spot the trouble early-doors and encouraged a few of us to follow him and get out of Dodge before it escalated.
We managed to catch the bus back to Glasgow with minutes to spare but a few of our group got caught up in the rammy and ended up spending an extra couple of days in Blackpool… by necessity rather than design.
The return journey home was a bit more sombre than the party-bus we’d arrived on, but it still took 8 hours!

Another Blackpool trip another drama…

I’ve been back to Blackpool several times since 1974 for fleeting visits but mainly to watch my brother compete in dancing competitions and represent Scotland at the Tower Ballroom in the late 70s and early 80s.

The last time I was there was about 20 years ago when I was up in the North West from London for a meeting in Manchester and persuaded a colleague to stay in Blackpool during the Blackpool Illuminations.

He’d never been or wanted to go to Blackpool, so I was excited to introduce him to the delights of my favourite Northern English coastal town and to change his perception of the place, but it was a losing battle…. the place looked tired and run down and the bright lights didn’t seem so bright anymore.

I’ve not been back since then, and I’m not sure I ever will now.

I think I’d prefer to remember the old place the way it was….. bright, lively, invigorating and full of drama…..