Until the late-19th century, the town of Morecambe actually comprised of three discrete settlements – Poulton-le-Sands, Bare and Torrisholme – on the south east coast of Morecambe Bay, in north Lancashire. It was not until 1889 that the name of Morecambe – reflecting the name of the Bay on which the town stands – was officially used.
The economy of the area was initially dominated by fishing and farming. However, small-scale tourism, centred upon Poulton-le-Sands, began in the first half of the 19th century. Visitors during this period were generally genteel, well-heeled individuals attracted to the area by the increasing popularity of sea bathing, which was promoted as being beneficial to the health of bathers.
The nature of the district was altered irrevocably when the first railway station in the town was opened on the newly built Stone Jetty in 1848 by the Morecambe Harbour and Railway Company. This terminus was named after Morecambe Bay, an indication that, at the time, greater importance was attached to the railway connection to the steamer service that operated from the Jetty, which facilitated the transportation of goods to and from Ireland.
However, a secondary impact of the improved access to the region was a large increase in tourism, with working class visitors taking advantage of cheap rail fares to enjoy both day trips and longer stays during the ’wakes week’ associated with northern industrial towns. This resulted in the development of the area as a resort, with the construction of new housing, hotels, shops and leisure facilities to accommodate the influx of new visitors eventually resulting in the expansion of the three existing settlements to the point where they merged into a single conurbation. Since the opening the first station, the name ’Morecambe’ was frequently attached to this extended urban area and the change in name was officially recognised in 1889.
The two railway companies that operated in the town ran services that connected Morecambe with Leeds and Bradford (the Morecambe Harbour and Railway Company, which later became Midland Railways) and western Scotland (the London and North Western Railway). For this reason, Morecambe became so inextricably associated with visitors from the West Riding and Scotland, that it acquired the nickname ’Bradford by the Sea’.
Tourism to Morecambe – like many British seaside towns – declined sharply in the 1960s and 1970s when holidays abroad became affordable. This site reflects showcases Morecambe when it was at the height of its popularity in the early 20th century.
Notes about the postcards
All of the postcards on this site show views of Morecambe and the surrounding area, from Hest Bank in the north to Heysham, Overton and Sunderland Point in the south.The majority date from between 1900 and 1925, although there are also several later examples. The scenes they depict are predominantly associated with Morecambe’s tourist industry, other aspects of the local economy, such as fishing, are also reflected.
Although Morecambe has undergone much alteration in the century since these images were recorded, many of the locations shown in the postcards are still recognisable. I have therefore, where possible, included a recent Google Street View shot for comparison although, obviously, this can frequently only give a rough approximation.