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Tuesday, 2 April 2013

A-Z Challenge: B is for Blackpool, Boston & Bavaria

In this new A-Z Challenge, my theme is A SENSE OF PLACE where I will be:
  • Linking my interests in history, travel & photography.
  • Featuring places connected with my own family history.
  • Highlighting places with happy memories.
  • Shining the spotlight on place names that appeal
Join me on the start of this journey from A-Z.

B is for:
The tower from North Pier
BLACKPOOL,  Lancashire:  I am a Blackpudlian,   born in this  seaside  resort on the north west coast of England.  Its tower, built in 1894, was modelled on the Eiffel Tower in parish and rises to 520 feet - facts drummed into us at school. My parents met at the famous Tower Ballroom.  Until the 19th century, Blackpool was just a small hamlet.  It rose to prominence with the building of the railway linking  it to the mill towns of industrial Lancashire and Yorkshire and soon became England's  most popular  holiday resort. The unique Blackpool Illuminations were first switched on in 1879 to extend  the season well into the autumn.

My mother's Danson family came from nearby Poulton-le-Fylde, a much older settlement which is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1085-86. The Dansons  are at the core of my family history activities,  traced back to 1736. 

BILSTON, Wolverhampton, was the birthplace in 1912  of my father John Weston.  In the previous year's census, the family were living at Lunt Lane, Lunt Gardens, but this rural sounding place name was a bit belied by learning that this was the area of the sewerage works.
In 1887, John Bartholomew's "Gazetteer of the British Isles" described Bilston as: "a great centre of hardware trade -- iron and brass castings, tin and japanned wares, &c., with extensive iron foundries and smelting works, and potteries. In vicinity are productive coal and ironstone mines, also an abundance of fine sand for casting, and a very hard stone suitable for grindstones."

Apart from being a lifelong supporter of the Wolves football team, Dad always regarded his home town as,  as Wolverhampton, but Broseley, near Ironbridge, Shropshire. He moved there when he was seven years old and he was proud to belong to this historic centre of England's Industrial Revolution.


The famous bridge linking Broseley and Ironbridge
was built in 1779,
BROSELEY, set on the wooded slopes above the River Severn in Shropshire,   has strong links with the early industrial revolution. In the 18th and 19th centuries it developed into a major centre for coal mining, iron manufacture, distinctive roof and wall bricks, decorative tiles, clay tobacco pipes. earthenware manufacture and a variety of associated activities. In the early 19th century ironstone replaced coal as the main product of the parish's mines.

Many of the developments celebrated by the industrial heritage sites of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums started in Broseley or were connected to the town.

This was my father's spiritual home - he sang in the choir at the local church and was vice captain of the school football team, as described in Dad's Broseley Boyhood  His father Albert Weston walked  35 minute each way to work at Coalbrookdale.

The imposing Massachusetts State House in Boston
BOSTON - I was lucky enough to spend a year working in Masasachussetts - a wonderful experience and have fond memories of my time in the city, then and thirty years later when I was able to make a return holiday.  I loved the coastal setting, with  views across the wide Charles river, the varied architecture, and the sense of history typified by the Freedom Trail.

Boston played a key role in American history. In 1630,  colonists from England, led by John Winthrop, the first governor, founded the town, which quickly became the political, commercial, financial, religious and educational centre  of New England.  In the 1770's the American  Revolution erupted in Boston, and   in the Civil War 90 years later, Boston was the base for anti-slavery activities. The 19th century saw large influxes of Irish and Italian immigrants. Assassinated President John F. Kennedy was born in Boston.

BAVARIA  Bavaria in southern Germany is  one of our favourite holiday destinations and in many ways it is very similar to neighbouring Austria - lakes and mountains, chalets, imposing monments, impressive architecture, and  with pride in its environment,  culture and costume - but it has a different history.  Once a separate dukedom and then monarchy, it became part of the newly formed German empire in 1871   The highlights of our visits have included  the  city of Munich, charming rural villages, Regensburg, the best preserved medieval town in Europe and the over-the-top royal palaces built by King Ludwig II  - the most famous Neuschwanstein - the model for the Disneyland castle.   The distinctive blue and white flag is often proudly displayed, as in this wall mural.

PLACE NAMES THAT APPEAL -  I love names that conjure up an image or that roll off the tongue, such as Ballachulish in the Highlands.  In  my own area of Roxburghshire in the Scottish Borders   there is Bloodhopehead (the mind boggles at what might have happened there!);  Brockhoperig - the ridge by the valley with the badgers,   and Blackcleuch  - with "cleuch" meaning  ravine, gorge, cliff, crag. 

 Ch is pronounced as the ch in loch. 

On the other hand would I really want to live in a place called Boghall, Bogfoot  or Bogside?    

Join me on the next stage of my A-Z Journey as we look at C.

Copyright © 2013 · Susan Donaldson. All Rights Reserved


  1. I also love Bavaria, which is where my husband's family originated.

  2. I am trying to remember what movie I saw that had a big dance competition at Blackpool. It wasn't "Strictly Ballroom" (one of my all time favorites.) Maybe it was the Japanese movie "Shall We Dance."

    Bloodhopehead does not sound like a holiday destination!

  3. Your family history is fascinating! Thank you for visiting my A-Z posts, it's nice that our are so very different!

    Helena xx

  4. Loved this and it reminded me of my family favourite of Besancon in France where my wife's Hugeneot family originated and Berry Pomeroy in Devon where some of mine were from.


  5. Was just reading about Ballachulish in an Anne Perry novel yesterday! I'm enjoying this touring and of course I always love Bavaria. It's interesting how we come to define where our home is, either literally or in our hearts eg your father's home not being where he was born.

  6. Thank you to everyone for your comments. It is very heartening to know that someone is out there, taking the time to read my blog. It as an enjoyable post to write and brought back lots of memoriwes.

  7. In my opinion Blackpool is the prefect destination for family. This city is amazing and attracts a lots of tourist there. My friend, who was there, told me that properties in Blackpool are the best to have one. I have a dream to own some House/Flats in Blackpool.


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