A Postcard from Cleveleys

Cleveleys Car Show
Cleveleys Car Show

Jane writes each month about what’s happening in her adopted new home town of Cleveleys on the North West coast. Here’s her latest instalment of news from the seaside…

I was amazed to discover that I’ve written more than 30 of these articles, all about the wonderful place where I now live which is called Cleveleys, so as is customary, I’ll start this one with comment about the weather! We’ve had some very nice weather here on the Fylde Coast – in fact it’s been quite hot – and we even managed to get in a nice May Bank Holiday Monday – which was a miracle in itself! Then, as I started to type this, the skies spoilt their manners and it’s enough to blow you off your feet… let’s hope that’s not an omen for summer.

I bet the organisers of events over the Mayday weekend were fed up. We’re starting to get into summer event season here on the coast, and it makes me feel stressed without even being on the organising committee. Each individual place holds its own festival of sorts – so up and down the coast from Fleetwood to Lytham there are galas, classic car events, scarecrow festivals, club days, and more besides. They’re almost all organised by the community, so teams of volunteers work throughout the year to create these one-day summer spectacles.

I don’t think most members of the public have half an idea what goes into them. Obviously they need some money to function, so you start with fund-raising to pay for road closures, leaflets, banners and more. Each event needs a permit and licenses, the correct health and safety procedures and risk assessments, insurance for the event itself and all the stalls and entertainers who take part. I know from experience that it’s a big job which needs a number of volunteers to make it work.

There are three big events that I know of here in Cleveleys – on 7th June the Cleveleys Car Show rolls into town again, the week after on 13th June it’s Thornton Cleveleys Gala, and then on 4th July the National Scout Car Races are taking place. The Car Show is quite a new event – most of the organisers have a passion for vehicles of various types and it has to be said that they’ve made a spectacular job of growing a good event, organised beforehand with military precision, and which this year is even bigger as it spills off the promenade onto the seafront grasslands known as Jubilee Gardens with a small fun fair.

Vehicles of all kinds – owners clubs, classic, vintage, bespoke, modern and more – line the full length of the promenade creating quite a sight where normally you see dog walkers and cyclists! The main shopping street is closed to traffic and packed with even more vehicles, stalls and entertainers, and on the performance area at the end of the high street is a stage with music and entertainment. If you fancy an entertaining free day out at the seaside it’s very well worth it.

Before my time here, apparently the Thornton Cleveleys Gala parade walked from nearby Thornton to Cleveleys and it was a big community event, which is now well over 100 years old. Changing times, health and safety and the cost of road closures now mean that the parade walks the streets of Thornton, but this year they will also hold their fun fair on Jubilee Gardens – so it’s going to be a busy week!

Thornton Cleveleys Gala is a very traditional event, with wonderful floats which the community make so that all the children and local groups can join in. When I was little my friend was a Sunday School Queen, processing on the back of a float, and I so wanted to do that. There was little chance because I never went to Sunday School, but all the local children who take part in our events each year have wonderful memories and photos to look back on when they are old and going grey like me!

The National Scout car Races are a new one on me, I must admit. It sounds a bit like trolley racing, but it promises to be a big event with Scouts coming from all over the UK to take part. It’s a full day event so it should be entertaining and it’s certainly something very different to see. Jubilee Gardens is a quiet piece of tidy grassland, adjacent to the promenade and quite visible to the road, so assuming the weather is kind for these events there should be a great crowd to take part and watch.

Changing the subject completely, I think I mentioned before that the Rossall Beach Group had been working with the local primary schools and taking round our Beach Buddies Roadshow. Going back to the weather again, thankfully it wasn’t raining the day the children from Manor Beach came to the beach to see what they could find for ‘Show and Tell’. The crocodile of children arrived as we’d all got into the swing of the beach clean, to be given a zipper freezer bag and disposable gloves before heading to the strandline to see what had been washed up.

They’d also found a few mermaids purses – the egg cases of rays and sharks/dogfish form which a little wriggling live baby fish hatches to leave the case behind. It’s amazing what you find on the beach – especially after it’s been windy as even more material gets washed up – both man-made and natural in origin. We’re doing it all again in the next couple of months, when we take our Beach Buddies Roadshow to Northfold Primary School, to educate and inspire the next generations to look after our precious beach.

Speaking of what you find on the beach, when the shifting levels of sand are low enough you’ll find the unusual but not rare remains of petrified forest at low tide, left permanently underwater with rising sea levels over hundreds of years. There was probably a settlement here at Cleveleys in the middle ages, but a 1910 Godfrey Edition map is a fascinating look back to a time when much of the area was covered in farmland, although by then the tramway to Fleetwood was in place and it was that which drove the growth of Cleveleys itself as holiday makers flocked to places like the Hydro.

I’m sure I’m not alone in having a fascination with local history, in fact here on the Fylde there are a number of active Facebook groups who dig and delve through their own family archives and the internet alike, to seek out photos of shared memories and past events from the whole of this coast. I bought the full set of Fylde Coast Godfrey maps and on the back of them is a fairly detailed but potted history of each area which is quite fascinating and adds together with things that you see on the internet to build a picture in your mind of what the past must have been like.

I’ll end on a warm memory that’s not really a matter of history, and nothing to do with Cleveleys, but just this week someone had posted a photo of the old Pablo’s ice cream wafers which were sold on Blackpool prom for pennies.

I remember well when we came on holiday each year in the 1970’s that we always made a bee-line for their kiosks – there was one near the Tower and another at South Shore – for an ice cream sandwich. Cut from a block, the white ice cream was delicious until it melted and ran down your arm! Later, when family friends had holiday flats at South Shore, I played with Paula and Melanie, the owner’s grandchildren, and their granddad would give us some loose change to run across the road and buy a wafer.

Although I’d still love to know where they are now, they were happy days that always seemed to be sunny and just the thing that memories are made of – the ones I remember when I drive along the promenade now, or see a photo like this one on Facebook.

If you love to laugh and would love to live in a community like this, you can find out more about Cleveleys and the subjects in this article from www.visitCleveleys.info. Send your news or stories to share to jane@theRabbitPatch.co.uk.

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