The Now and Then column with Aled Jones: Charting changes along Bridlington’s North Marine Drive

This week’s ‘Now and Then’ column, compiled by Aled Jones, shows how Bridlington’s North Marine Drive has changed in more than 100 years.

By Phil Hutchinson
Friday, 27th May 2022, 2:39 pm
This postcard, dated 1917, features a scene from between 1888 and 1912.
This postcard, dated 1917, features a scene from between 1888 and 1912.

Mr Jones, who is an avid vintage postcard collector, uses an image from before 1912 and contrasts it with a modern day photograph.

He said: “Here is a real gem of a vintage postcard from well over a century ago.

“It shows North Marine Drive as you’ve not seen it before, just a narrow lane without any buildings at all.

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North Marine Drive as it looks today.

“There are no flats or houses, no Expanse Hotel, no adjoining avenues, nothing but a large open field occupied in the middle distance by the Switchblade Railway Company Ltd (middle, right). Talk about happy undevelopment. Indeed, compared to the latter-day photograph there’s something innately rustic and rural about the bygone scene.

“The railway was one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bridlington in its day.

“It operated from 1888 to 1912 and was a bit like a modern rollercoaster but on a wooden rather than a metal track. For two pennies, you could enjoy a thrilling ride.

“Sadly for the thousands who travelled yearly to Bridlington for a go on it, the area was sold to builders and the amenity was dismantled. Lamplugh Road was built on the empty site.

“The postcard is dated December 22, 1917, and was sent to South Killingholme, Lincolnshire, from Thornwick Cottage, Flamborough. However, this isn’t when the sepia photograph was taken.

“Why? Because it clearly features the switchback railway which ceased operating long before 1917. The old photo must have been taken sometime between 1888, when the railway first opened, and 1912 when it ceased operating.

“The postcard provides an interesting insight into a vital stage in this town’s development, the establishment of the North Promenade Sea Wall. This was started in 1866-7, when Bridlington Corporation built the Sea Wall Parade to the north of the harbour.

“An engineering feat duly followed by the Trinity Cut and Alexandra Sea Walls in 1879-81, with the Beaconsfield extension appearing in 1888, all clearly visible in the postcard.

“Having said that, a quick look at the postcard reveals a lack of any sea wall.

“Yes there are sea defences, but as you can note, they are purely of a wooden construction. They weren’t rebuilt in stone until 1929-31 when modern North Marine Drive was laid out, with the Expanse Hotel appearing in 1937.

“Other points of interest include the Alexandra Hotel in the distance with Holy Trinity Church directly behind it, so popular on Sundays with residents of that hotel. Note, too, how the path leading along the clifftop to Sewerby has barely changed at all in the past hundred years or more.”