Visit Bridlington – The Early Days

A Report on our meeting on 7th November 2016

The Prior Rick Hudson welcomed members and guests.  He introduced the speaker Bro Fred Walkington.  Bro Fred comes from an old established Bridlington family and gave 47 years of service on the lifeboat. Few can speak with such knowledge on his topic “Visit Bridlington – The Early Years”.  As usual Bro Fred’s talk was exceptionally well illustrated with photographs, posters, and postcards.  What follows are just snippets from his thorough exploration of the topic.

Bro Fred explained how before the railway, visitors came by coach and by sea. A coach house, the Neptune Inn, stood above Langdales Wharf and from an 1818 poster we could see that it took five and a half hours to get there from Hull. This journey was however more certain than taking the weather dependant packet which regularly sailed from St Catherine Dock in London to Bridlington.

With the coming of the railways in 1846 visiting Bridlington was easier, and with the especially cheap excursion fares this was an option for a lot more families. Bridlington Quay developed holiday accommodation northwards from the harbour and landaus acted as taxis to take visitors from the railway station to their holiday rooms. At the height of the season accommodation was in short supply.  Many residents, including Bro Fred’s ancestors, would sleep in outhouses and rent out their homes to provide a useful supplementary income.

Local villages arranged annual trips to the sea side. As Bro Fred’s photographs showed this must have been an uncomfortable ride for many seated around the horse drawn wagons. The drop off points were at Beaconsfield and Lamplugh’s field.

Sea bathing was an attraction from the earliest days to the present. In the modesty conscious Victorian times wheeled bathing machines used Trinity Cut to access the beach and the water, and you could be “dipped” without being too exposed to view.  Bro Fred showed a wonderful photograph of Mrs Bullock and Mrs Welbourn, two of Bridlington’s “dippers”.

Later, you could also have your photographs taken by M Boak and Sons, or Shores, and also by W Foster Brigham’s business “Snaps”. From Bro Fred’s photograph of the “Snaps” staff it seems they employed about 60 people, many roaming the town looking for custom.

Bro Fred showed how the more adventurous could take trips to Bempton Cliffs or Flamborough precariously seated on solid tyred charabancs, ladies with their hats tied on tight. Alternatively you could parade and be seen on Prince’s Parade or sit on the beach and enjoy the sea and sand and maybe the pierrots performing.

The vote of thanks was given by Carol French.  She thanked Bro Fred for a story well told with really excellent pictures giving us an insight into a bygone era.