I recently bought this photograph of a children’s playground or fairground with roundabouts. (Click on it a few times to see it larger.) The image quality is not bad but parts of it have motion-blur and parts of the photo itself are in pretty bad condition. You can see the upper right part that is missing – that needs to be replaced – and if you look at the larger version you’ll see that there is all sorts of stuff on quite a lot of the rest of it, including stains and what looks like clay or mud spashes. It’s been stuck on cardboard – probably originally, not later – and that’s also in a pretty poor state, with stains and other marks. There is no writing on it, back or front. I’m hoping, in due course, to restore it… but I expect that to take a while.
I thought, when I saw it, that it might have been taken in Brighton, which is a popular seaside resort in Sussex, on England’s south coast. And I was right. I had a look on Google streetview and went to where I thought it might be but was puzzled not to see the structure, that’s only partly in view, at the top left, so I looked for the history of the area and found it further east from where I was looking. And really, I should have known because I’ve been there so many times!
The photo was taken in Madeira Drive, Brighton.
If you look at the embedded Google streetview, below, you’ll see where it was. (You can click and drag inside the image to move it around, and click on or near the arrows that you’ll see on or against the ground, to go forward and backwards).
In our time, the wrought ironwork is still intact, as is the bank above it – albeit restored now (would the white or pale part of the bank in the photo have been repairs from bomb damage, I wonder?) and the railings at the top of that. The shelter is probably the original one or is restored.
The structure at the top left corner of the photo was a lift (elevator). That is still there, though I don’t suppose the lift itself is still operational. The lamp-post and its lamp are probably the original ones though it looks to me as though the shade has changed. It will most likely have been a gas-lamp, originally. Now I expect it’s probably an LED… but I may be wrong.
I think the date of the photo is probably late 1940s or early 1950s, going by the clothes and the rather unsophisticated look of the rides. One is a pencil, another is – what? A panda? I can’t make out all of the detail yet, that will come as I work on it and tell myself the ‘story’ of the image.
There’s what looks like a small coach or bus in motion, and a lot of bunting hanging up. The hut is too small for refreshments, but might have been for buying tickets, and the other structure to the left of it looks like it’s the back of something at the top of which I can see the back of two head-and-shoulder silhouettes. In between the rides and the archways is a small coach, in motion. Curiously, I discovered that, at another time, this coach was also replicated as child-size coaches to ride in (but this is the full size version, the real thing.)
The roundabout rides were probably part of Peter Pan’s Playground in its early stages. It still exists, though obviously not in this form! I have to do a bit more research into that, but here’s a photo of a miniature Southdown Coach at Madeira Drive and Peter Pan’s playground is mentioned. You can see the lift and railings in the background.
Later on, I shall probably colour this but for now, I’m just enjoying it as it is. What a find! I’m so pleased about it!
Here’s more information about Madeira Drive and Lift. The info is below a gallery of photos, and you can click the pictures to see them larger and get a little more info about each, and there are links above each photo (on its own page) to the next and the previous photos.
There’s also a fairly good view of the other side of Madeira Lift in this short article. And a nice photo of it with the ironwork arcades, here, too.
As it’s difficult to see the shelter on Google Streetview from the ground level, below is another street-view of it from the street above (called Marine Parade). On the left, you’ll see the back of the shelter (the sea-facing side will look the same), and to the right you’ll see the upper part of the lift building. It looks to me like there is rubbish of some sort beneath the shelter’s benches, and to the left of that around the base of a street light, there are some red and white barriers surrrounding an open hole… a fairly normal sight on a British street or pavement: something started and left. The workmen have probably gone off to have a cup of tea!
Please tell me what else you can see in the photo that I might have missed! Is that a motorbike with sidecar in the background near the boy on the bicycle? If it is, I wonder what make and model it is? Can you make out any of the other rides and what they are meant to be? To me, they look like rounded train-carriages or even logs! And what of the children and adults?
What are your thoughts about this photo and its contents? I’d love to know!