Filed: History

Blackpool in Black

Anyone who can be bothered to be a regular reader of SP will know that as a family we are big fans of Blackpool, particularly the Pleasure Beach, so sad to relate that its MD, Geoffrey Thompson, was buried today after his death on 15 June, and a pretty grand affair it was too.

He was the grandson of Alderman William G Bean who opened the Pleasure Beach in 1910 after a visit to Coney Island with the simple aim “to make adults feel like children again and to inspire gaiety of a primarily innocent character.” Read more ›››


Ronnie Rhodes

As promised, I watched the memorial services held today. Bit of a cock-up it was too. The whole show kicked off late; the band played Onward Christian Soldiers far too swiftly; and the readings were cut short. Short shrift for old and decent fighting men.

So I watched, sniffling a tear. I can’t help remembering my uncle Ronnie, a good man, and his remembrances of that fateful day. It must have been awful, but what shines through is not the death and destruction, but the simple need for food. Read more ›››

Another Hero

Yet another of my occasional Greater Mancunians series, prompted by the MEN tonight reporting that a Blue Plaque is to be placed at the Wilmslow home of Alan Turing.

That he was a genius is not disputed, and probably the creator of modern computer science. Often unregarded for two reasons. First, his work at Bletchley was top secret as so not reported even until long after WWII. Second, he was a homosexual. Read more ›››

Colossal Achievement

As we get nearer to the 60th anniversary of D-day, more and more stuff is appearing on the web and as we sit staring at our screens, it’s worth remembering that that was where computing started. Here in the UK, at Bletchley to be precise, where the Mk2 Colossus was put to work breaking the German’s coded message. Read more ›››

A Piece of my Past up in Flames

News that Ashton Market Hall was destroyed by fire last night has left me feeling pretty damned devastated. This grand Victorian celebration of the small market trader was a part of my childhood and a regular stopping off point during the Saturday shopping trip. If you’re quick, you can catch the aftermath from the webcam on the council buildings. Read more ›››

Coal Not Dole

It is 20 years since the infamous miners’ strike that brought so much grfief and suffering to so many families. Even in that relatively short space of time, the world has changed and the power of the trade unions has been shattered for ever. Read more ›››

Dry Old Time in Rainy City

More of the most enduring myths about Manchester is that it always rains here. I’m not sure where this idea came from. I work in the city and it isn’t often that I have to pick up my brolly on the way out of the office. I suspect this stereotype has its roots in geography lessons at school – we learned about the history of the cotton industry in the north west and that one of the reasons it was successful was that its damp climate was suited to spinning cotton. Read more ›››

For Whom the M6 Tolls

The M6 toll-motorway opened today, surprisingly a month earlier than planned. I don’t often travel that way, but when I have, getting through that section has been a nightmare. My only worry is that you have to pull in at a toll booth to pay your two quid. So there you are, belting down the m-way at 70mph (honest, officer) only to come to a grinding halt to hand over your cash. Read more ›››