HistoryofLancs Blog 4 – Additions to Blackpool At War Book by John Ellis

The following information was omitted from my book Blackpool At War (released on The History Press , October 2013) due to a miscommunication by Me and the publishers so I have decided to Blog the additional material that i missed out so it is in the public domain. In relation to the book it was just a couple of additional sections from the Small stories section of the book. Including the fantastic story of “Hitler’s Watch”

I hope you enjoy it.

Hitler’s Watch – Charlie Caroli , Blackpool’s most famous clown appeared at the famous circus krone in Munich at the beginning of 1939. It was at the height of appeasement and the third Reich was at its strongest , the show , which was put on for Hitler, was such a success that Adolph presented Charlie with a watch. On the outbreak of World war 2 , after appearing at the tower circus, disgusted at Hitler’s views he walked to the end of North pier and threw the watch into the Irish Sea. He was said to have then sworn to stay in the resort (then free and fun) for the rest of his life. He duly did , accruing a record breaking 40 years of summer performances until his death in north shore in 1980. despite these admirable actions he was still to fall foul of Britain’s fear of foreigners and spent time incarcerated as a enemy of the state on the isle of man. He was found a French passport (born in Italy his family was rooted in France) and then released. A true local legend , few could claim to beat.

Fylde RUFC at War- long established rugby union club Fylde rufc had to pull out of competition during ww2 as there ground was used by the army for physical practice and other exercises. The army took over the facilities until the end of the war. In 1946 after the ground was returned , the then secretary G.W.Parkes, purchased some land for £7,000. This was named the Woodland memorial ground (the name is still used today) in honour of the returning men who fought in the conflict and those that made the ultimate sacrifice.

Spitfire memorial at Fairhaven Lake – In 2012 a full sized spitfire model was placed next to the famous lake. This was a replica of the one the locals of Lytham St Annes purchased in 1941 after fundraising efforts raised the £6,500 needed to build the new plane. The plane , piloted by sergeant Alan Lever-Ridings, was shot down after returning from bomber escort duties over northern France. The plane loss hit the locals hard who had followed its progress throughout the war. The unveiling part of a larger memorial to pilots during the war (fitting with the areas aviation history) was attended by descendants of the pilot who still live nearby. The cost of the memorial (roughly £40,000) was raised by locals who mimicked the actions of those 70 or so years early. The feature adds to the areas other wartime remembrance efforts , with Lytham holding wartime weekends and the area recently seeing many military flyovers.

Lastly thanks to all the new followers of the twitter site @historyoflancs (were over 1,500 now!) and please comment or get in touch if you have any interesting stories etc about historic Lancashire.

on a separate note I am looking for some additional information for my next projects and i am particularly interested in anyone who worked or knew someone that worked at the Old Whittingham Mental Asylum near Preston, or any information/photos on the hospital



  1. Read the article in the Gazette. I publish specialist books on Blackpool’s transport. You can see details at http://www.rigbyroad.co.uk. Titles are on sale also at Waterstones and Blackpool Transport’s information office on Market Street.

    I am finishing up a new book on Blackpool’s transport during the 1940s with several interesting stories of course. If you have any photos of Blackpool during this decade with trams or buses in view I am certainly interested… Of course I have plenty of images and items from this period as well.
    I am sure we would benefit from meeting up at some point in Blackpool. My website is http://www.rigbyroad.co.uk
    John Woodman

  2. William K Smith · · Reply

    Thank you for interesting reading I was a boy during the war 1926. Like to see old pictures

  3. Hi
    I am trying to trace my great grandfather Alfred Hudson Collins who served in the RAMC and lived in Albert Road in Blackpool. When war broke out so understand he set up a first aid dressing station in his back garden and fully stocked it to help others and was pictured in the paper outside his first aid set up. I just wondered if you have any information about this and if this is featured in your book at all? Thanks D Dixon email at dixon@hotmail.co.nz

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