What's all this then?

My name is Victoria Stiles and I'm an Early Career Historian currently doing whatever odd research / consulting / outreach / tutoring jobs come my way. I blog here about some of the interesting texts I've found.
My research focusses on books about Britain and the British Empire which were in circulation in Nazi Germany but you'll also find a smattering of school textbooks, witchcraft beliefs, bog drainage, bemused travellers and weird illustrations that caught my eye.
Translations from German are my own. Comments are currently unmoderated and are mostly spam for leather jackets anyway.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Snippets - Seaside Fun in 1830s Lytham

The local history I was taught at school in Lytham St.Annes seemed to consist of a flood, a lifeboat disaster, and the building of a church in the middle of a lot of sand-dunes. They never told us about the fun, frolics and nutty stunts. These stories are all taken from the Preston Chronicle.

Walking Backwards. - On Tuesday last, at Lytham, George Edwards, a man of colour, walked backwards a distance of 10 miles, in one hour and 49 minutes, on a piece of ground half a mile in extent. He has also performed the task of taking up with his mouth, from the ground, 100 potatoes, one yard distance from each other, in forty-three minutes and 42 seconds, returning with each potatoe to the starting place. (Saturday July 30th, 1831)

Swimming Feat. - On Tuesday last, Dr. Bedale, of Manchester, in compliance with his previous anouncements, exhibited in presence of several hundred spectators, some of his peculiar and surprising feats in the waters of the Ribble. Soon after twelve o'clock, he appeared in a boat a short distance below Penwortham bridge, and having provided himself with a suitable garment, his legs were tied together, and he was thrown headlong into the stream, from which he soon rose and floated in different postures with the apparent lightness of a log of wood, and without any perceptible exertion. In this manner, and afterwards in a variety of postures, he swam and floated towards Avenham and returned with t
he ebb, to the gratification of the curious. In the afternoon he proceeded to Lytham to confer a similar gratuitous treat upon the visitants to that place, where he would find a wider scope for his skill in "wrestling with the ocean wave." (Saturday August 13th, 1831)

Bathing Exploits. - Sunday last, being one of those midsummer hollidays, with a high tide, of which the lovers of country excursions and salt water usually take advantage, a vast number of both sexes, and of all ages, set off for Lytham at an early hour, in carts and other vehicles, as well as on foot, "to lave their lim
bs in ocean's briny flood." About 60 individuals however, with greater pretensions to taste than to seek locomotion, by these every day-means, resolved to enjoy an aquatic excursion to the same destination ; and sweating, and puffing under a load of finery, they embarked, full of glee and expectation, at the Marsh end, on board the Lytham Packet and stood down the river. All appeared to betoken a day of genuine pleasure ; but, as fortune would have, it the Captain of the Packet and his mate had newly taken command, and not having sufficiently studdied Hamilton Moore's navigation ; while following their vocation of "spinning yarns," in this town ; being, in other words, fresh water sailors, before they had completed a third of their voyage, they ran the vessel upon a sand-band, to the g

reat alarm and chagrin of the passengers. There she stuck as fast as the obelisk, and after numerous attempts to gether off, which helped to bed her the deeper in the sand, the gay assemblage had but the alternative to stay aboard for the next tide, or submit to the dreadful necessity of making their way on shore, upon Longton Marsh, in the best way they could. The latter was, after a sage council of war, preferred, - and some of the females waded, and some were carried on shore, to the infinite detriment of their holliday garments. One lady in a lutestring dress was fairly soused under water, without having had the trouble to go so far as Lytham ' and divers were the mishaps to shoes, stockings, bonnets, and their etceteras. Even after landing they had new perils to encounter. The sea had left large pools and slimy ditches in the Marsh, over and through which they were force to push on as they could: they had next to scramble over dikes

and hedges, and experienced "hair breadth scapes" and "moving accidents, by flood and field," before they reached the village of Longton, where they had leisure to ruminate on their adventures, and wisely come to a resolution to make the next trip to Lytham upon Terra Firma. (Saturday August 4th, 1832)
Photo: bathers in 1834. There's more on wonderful nineteenth-century bathing suits from ModCloth, Thread for Thought and Clancy's Classics.