We’ve sent Seaside Postcards since the postal service began, they’re a greeting from holiday makers through the years. Did you know that their history dates back to 1894? It was way back then that Royal Mail gave publishers permission to make and send postcards through the post.
As the twentieth century turned and the British public learned how to holiday in their millions, the seaside postcard grew in popularity. It became a tradition to send scenic views back to friends and family at home.
From Nothing to 1000 a Day!
Blackpool’s first postal date stamp was issued on 25 January 1849. It took a couple of years for postcards to catch on, from the first permission in 1894 to them going on sale in 1898. By 1904 up to 1000 picture postcards were being sold each day!
In 1905, Abingdon Street post office even had 24 compartments where people could sit to write their postcards home.
The weather is always perfect in a postcard. Have you ever seen one picturing a typical wet and windy day at the coast? They’re an interesting record of social history in Britain.
The Rise and Fall of Seaside Postcards
ETW Dennis of Scarborough printed the first seaside postcards. Only two 1894 postmarked examples of them survive today. John Hinde is another well known photographer of many a seaside postcard view. Then in the 1930’s the saucy seaside postcard appeared, but by the 70’s and 80’s they’d gone full circle and went out of fashion again.
In 1948 a postbox was even installed at the top of the Blackpool Tower! Now, you could send them home from Britain’s highest postbox, franked “posted at the top of the Tower”.
Original postcards are very collectible and the rare ones sell for large sums of money. We’ve got a small collection here at Visit Fylde Coast. In the ‘Gallery’ sections of each of our websites you can enjoy a walk down memory lane with some copyright-expired examples.
By the year 2000, 2 million postcards a year were being sent. You’ll still see them on sale along the Fylde Coast. They’re part of our countries culture and on sale in Blackpool, Fleetwood, Cleveleys and St Annes.
Designs still show our favourite holiday scenes. Trams and donkeys, the promenade and Illuminations.
However, they’re not as easy to find as they once were. We went for a walk around the gift shops of Blackpool, looking for these holiday favourites – in this video:
From Blackpool to Colne… and Canada!
Here at Visit Fylde Coast we love to get emails and messages from our readers. In February 2019 we received this email from Tibor Lukas –
“I found an original postcard in a book that was sent from Blackpool to Colne on 24 July 1917 written by a Mrs. Parker to a Mr. & Mrs. Lonsdale. I found it to be unique in the historical sense. If you wish I could send it to you for archival purposes. Please let me know. Regards, Tibor Lukacs (retired teacher) living in Canada.”
Did we want to archive it? Of course we did! Tibor very kindly posted it back to us. Back to the Fylde Coast where it had come from, all those years ago.
Postcard from Blackpool
The message on the back reads –
“Mrs Parker, 5 Chapel Street
Dear Ma. Pa.
We are having most beautiful weather and are doing it fine, our Ethel has got in the same place as us. Monday we saw 2 aeroplanes over the water and they looped the loop 5 times. We went to the Tower at night and had a pleasant evening. Yours with love”
Have you got any Fylde Coast seaside postcards at home? If you have we’d love to see them. Take a photo of the front and the back of your card and email it to jane@theRabbitPatch.co.uk and we’ll publish them for posterity. Full credit will be given, as usual.
Saucy Seaside Postcards
The saucy seaside postcard came along in the 1930’s and quickly became everyone’s favourite message. At the height of their popularity they were selling at a rate of 16 odd million a year. The best known of the saucy postcard artists was probably Donald McGill.
You can see the collection at the Donald McGill Museum in Ryde on the Isle of Wight. He created over 12,000 designs throughout his career!
Censorship of Saucy Seaside Postcards
After the war, there was a renewed campaign against lax standards. The newly elected 1950’s Conservative government were concerned about the content of the saucy seaside postcard. So the Postcard Censor was born in 1951 and they banned the ones they thought too rude!
Dan Robertson is the Curator of Local History & Archaeology at the Royal Pavilion & Museums in Brighton.
A couple of years ago Visit Fylde Coast was contacted by Dan, looking for information. He’d received a request from a student at the University of Chichester, looking for more information.
The student was completing a project on seaside postcards, particularly the saucy ones. They were looking for information relating to the Postcard Censor linked to the council. It was they who banned postcards regarded as too rude.
Postcard censorship in Brighton
Apparently the postcard censor in Brighton was busy banning and destroying saucy/lewd postcards by the likes of McGill.
There’s reference to 17,989 postcards being seized and destroyed in Brighton, and a bonfire that destroyed 113 of McGill’s postcards in 1953. The student mentioned a Picture Post article published 29 August 1953. The police confiscated cards from five shops in Brighton!
Do you know anything about postcard censorship imposed by Blackpool police/council/shop committees in the 1950s? We know that lots of you share our interest in local history from the country’s entertainment capital!
If you’ve got something to add, we’d still like to hear from you. Just get in touch, email jane@theRabbitPatch.co.uk
You told us…
We asked the question about local postcard censorship in the Blackpool’s Past – The Original Facebook group.
Stella Siddall told us that there’s a collection of old censored Blackpool postcards in the local history library. If anyone fancies popping in, Tony Sharkey was the man to talk to but has since retired. Just ask for any of the heritage assistants who will be able to help you.
Jill Carruthers is the Exhibitions Assistant at Blackpool Museum Project and she got in touch with more information. She said:
“Tony (Sharkey) had done a great deal of research on this topic so I’ll share some of it with you –
More about Postcard Censorship in Blackpool
This article from the Blackpool Herald, dated 3 May 1912, signals the beginning of the censorship committee in Blackpool.
As you can see it was actually a trade matter, not established by the Council or authorities.
Here’s the follow up article published on 12 May 1912, with the selection of members.
Although it drops off the bottom of the scan these were: Mr Beswick (tobacconist), Mr Coop (bookseller & stationer), Mr Green (draper), Mr Riley (furniture dealer), Mr Sweeten (bookseller), and Pilling & Whittaker (subpostmasters).
“Some of the cards still on view are not only grossly offensive in design, but their ‘double entendre’ is very pronounced.”
In Nov 1950 the Gazette said “the only solution seems to be a broadminded and experienced panel of censors”.
Blackpool Postcard Censorship Board
In Nov 1951 Blackpool Postcard Censorship Board met for the first time.
Here’s an Evening Gazette article from 18 March 1952. It reports ‘of 1865 cards seen, 1539 were approved and 326 disapproved (= 17.5%)’
By 1954 there were trade censor bodies in Hastings, Cleethorpes and Brighton as well as Blackpool (IOM committee was official). The Blackpool 1951 committee included a vicar, landlady, bank manager (retired), solicitor and a stationer. It was disbanded in 1968.
Canon Pritchard was a member of Blackpool censorship board from 1959-1965. He said they reached the end of the road when a shop in Aberystwyth placed notices in their shop window saying “For sale – postcards banned by the Blackpool Censorship Board”.
Robert Allen told us his father was called George Allen and he was in Blackpool in 1952. But he’s 99.9% sure it wasn’t him!
Do you fancy adding any to your own collection? Censored postcards occasionally turn up on ebay according to Andy Morley. He showed us this lot which was for sale at the time. Anyone who has them in their collection owns a valuable piece of social history!
Anything to add?
If you’ve got any information to add please get in touch with us here at Live Blackpool/Visit Fylde Coast. Email jane@theRabbitPatch.co.uk or ring 07932 143431. We’ll share your information here.
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