‘Our House’: Hollingworth House, 72 Albert Road, Blackpool

Hollingworth House, 72 Albert Road

‘Hollingworth House’, is a late Victorian boarding house that was situated at 72 Albert Road. The first occupants were the Boyer family from Hollingworth, Cheshire, who then imaginatively named the place ‘Hollingworth House’. Before moving to Blackpool, George Platt Boyer and his wife Mary Carter Boyer had their own newsagents and stationers on Market Street, which was the main road through the village. George and Mary had four children; Fredrick James, Herbert, Lucy and Maggie. Tragically, both Fredrick James and Lucy died before their fifth birthday.

The Boyer family lived at 19 Market Street, Hollingworth

The Boyers took up occupancy of 72 Albert Road sometime between 1901 and 1903. With no obvious experience of managing a boarding house in a busy seaside resort, life must have represented a far different challenge compared to living in the small village of Hollingworth.

Early colour postcard of Blackpool

The family had only lived in the resort for three years, when, at the relatively young age of 46, George Platt Boyer sadly died. He left an estate of £463 15s to his wife Mary, equivalent to approximately £50,170 in today’s money, which was no small sum.

Following her husband’s death, Mary, with the help of her daughter Maggie, continued to manage the boarding house. The 1911 census reveals that Mary is still living at 72 Albert Road with Maggie and her son Herbert, who is now employed as a postman.

In 1916, Mary left Albert Road and put the house up for sale. An advert placed in the local newspaper stated that the house had 34 rooms and was only two minutes from Central Station.

Mary died two years after the sale of the house. The sale of the house meant that her estate had doubled to £900 6s 6d, which she left to Maggie.

The next proprietor of the boarding house was James Jowett, who, alongside his wife, was running both 72 & 82 Albert Road. It appears the Jowett family operated both boarding houses throughout the destructive years of WWI.

By 1921, 72 Albert Road had changed proprietors yet again. The new occupants on this occasion were the Ingham Family. George Ingham, his wife Margaret and their children, had moved to the area from Burnley. In Burnley, George was employed as a boatman on the canal. All his children above the age of 13 worked in the local cotton mill. Life in Albert road was likely a big improvement to life in Burnley.

Margaret Ingham

The family had not lived in the area long when tragedy struck. Ellen, the youngest daughter of the Ingham family, sadly died. She was 21 years old. The cause of death was listed as ‘sarcoma of neck’, a rare type of tumour. Present at her death was her aunt, Sarah Kay. Six years later, the couple also tragically lost their eldest son Billy (William), who died at the age of 31.

17 June 1924

The Inghams remained at the address until 1926, when they left Blackpool and went back to their native Burnley. They remained in the hospitality industry, managing the Adelphi Hotel.

The Adelphi Hotel, Burnley

In 1929, George Ingham gave up his license for the Adelphi and it was transferred to a man called Arthur Goodwin. Just over a year later, George’s wife, Margaret, who had been in continual ill health for years, died while visiting Blackpool with her youngest son. Her funeral was reported in the local press…

Burnley Express, 3 December 1930

While the Ingham family were back in Burnley, the Kilner family were happily settling into life at number 72. Bedford and Clara Kilner (nee Finch) were from Yorkshire. They married in Bradford in 1926. By 1927, the couple had left Yorkshire, moved to Blackpool, and were running the boarding house on Albert Road. Bedford was a former miner who had served in WWI with the Royal Engineers. He entered the War in 1915, serving in France as a sapper. Sappers were responsible for the digging of trenches and tunnels. During his time in active service, he got injured and was twice granted a war pension. The first pension claim stated that he had suffered a 30 per cent disablement and was given the sum of 12s (approx £24.28 in today’s money) per week for one year. His second pension claim stated he had suffered 6-14 per cent disablement and was given 7s 6d (approx £15.17) for 70 weeks.

‘The Royal Engineers played a vital role in assisting the armies advance. Their work included road and rail repairs and bridging rivers and canals’. © National Army Museum

The Kilners remained at 72 Albert Road throughout WWII. The 1939 Register reveals that Bedford is managing the boarding house, with his wife Clara assisting him. Also living at the address is the couple’s young son, Roy.

Sometime between 1949 and 1952, a Mrs Potter took over the boarding house. The following 40 years of the house’s history is somewhat obscure. What is known, is that before the end of the twentieth-century number 70 and 72 Albert Road were converted into one hotel.

The hotel still stands today. Behind the scaffold, you can still make out the old boarding house with the beautiful large bay windows.

Slide the picture across to see a recent picture of the house


Burnley Express

Royal Army Museum

‘Our House’: Mrs Dixon’s, 58 Charnley Road, Blackpool

I decided to research another Blackpool postcard for this week’s ‘Our House’ blog. I seem to have developed quite a thing for Blackpool’s boarding houses. The picture displayed on the front of the postcard is Mrs Dixon’s boarding house, which was situated at 58 Charnley Road.

The Dixons took over the house in 1900, by then Blackpool had already established itself as a seaside resort attracting mill workers from across the North West. From the 1870s onwards, several aligning factors made resorts such as Blackpool accessible for working-class holidaymakers. A rise in real wages meant that workers could spend extra resources on leisure activities such as holidays. This was helped by local savings clubs, which enabled workers to put a bit aside each week for a day trip or excursion to the seaside. As historian John Walton suggests, these cheap excursions were usually organised by Sunday schools, temperance societies, employers or commercial promotors such as Thomas Cook. Also during this period, people were permitted by their employer to take more time off work without facing the sack. Workers were not paid when they were off; therefore, many could only afford a long weekend, however, those better-off workers could take a whole week off.

Alongside tourists, the growing resort also attracted those that came to seek new employment opportunities like Thomas Dixon and his wife Jane. The family had moved to Blackpool from Burnley and first appear at the address on the 1901 census. With the house only being built a few years before, it is likely that they were first occupants of 58 Charnley Road.

Thomas was not employed in the boarding house business. He worked as a road labourer and later a lamplighter for Blackpool Corporation. It was Jane Dixon that managed the house whilst also caring for their young baby. At the time the 1901 census was recorded, 58 Charnley Road was a ‘company house’, it would later be called a boarding house. A Blackpool guidebook offers some definition of the different types of accommodation available to visitors in 1897…

  1. Hotels, Hydros and Boarding Houses: Offer inclusive rates for meals and room
  2. Private Apartments: Where the rate quoted was for a room, with meals cooked by a landlord or landlady using ingredients provided by the guests
  3. Company Houses and Lodging houses: Guests rented a room or bed and could either buy their own food to be cooked and served in their rooms or in a dining room, or they could dine out.

To attract visitors to the boarding house, Jane advertised the ‘homely features’ of the accommodation in newspapers across the country, stating that “The best place for comfort in Blackpool is Mrs Dixon’s”. In the adverts she highlighted the competitive prices, charging 2s (approx £10.84 in today’s money) per night for a bed or 4s (approx £21.67 in today’s money) for a bed and board. For those staying for the week, there was a separate price for men (25 shillings) and women (21 shillings).

Jane’s hard work in making the boarding house a success seems to have paid off, with 58 Charnley Road gaining a reputation of one of the best boarding houses to stay at in Blackpool.

By 1915, 58 Charnley Road would be known as “Dixon’s Famous Boarding House”. It attracted families coming to Blackpool for a holiday, as well as those who needed a short-term place to stay while they were employed in the resort.

The Census of 1911 reveals that the boarding house had a staggering 22 rooms. It also states that four members of the Dixon family are living at the address – Thomas, Jane, and children Martha Jane and Florence. One of the Dickson children (Martha Jane) is also assisting in the business – previously she was employed as a baker’s assistant. Sadly, only a few months after the census was taken, Martha Jane passed away at the age of 26 due to acute appendicitis.

The Dixon family remained at 58 Charnley Road throughout WWI. However, not long after the war had ended, they sold the business to Jane and Charles Pyle.

Like the Dixon household, it would be the female of the Pyle family that would manage the boarding house. Although there may have been cosmetic changes inside the house, Jane Pyle decided to still trade under the name of ‘Dixon’s Famous Boarding House’. She remained at the boarding house for the next ten years, leaving in 1930 to take up a new position as the manager of a boarding house on Albert Road.

The next proprietor of 58 Charnley Road was Ellen ‘Nellie’ Challinor and her husband John Thomas Challinor, who went by his middle name of Tom. The couple had moved from Chelford Street in Manchester. One of the first significant decisions Ellen made, was to ditch the ‘Dixon’ brand and come up with a new name, which was ‘Progress House’. She also changed the tone of her newspaper adverts, gone are the ‘homely comforts’ that Jane Dixon promoted, Ellen thought the main selling point of the boarding house was its location, being only ‘two minutes from the station, promenade and Winter Gardens’. To attract custom, she kept her prices competitive, charging 7s 6d (approx £26.22 in today’s money) for men and 7s (approx £24.48 in today’s money) per night for women – the price included good food and ‘no extras’. 

In 1939, Ellen’s husband, Thomas, sadly passed away. Every year on the anniversary of his death, Ellen took out a memorandum notice in the local paper, stating how much she loved and missed him.

The exact date when Ellen left 58 Charnley Road is not clear. She was still there in 1949, however, in 1960 a newspaper advert reveals the boarding house had new owners. The new owners had changed the name to the Bali-Hi Hotel. For the first time in its history, the hotel offered the guests such luxuries as a wardrobe in every room and a TV in the lounge.

From the 1960s onwards, visitor numbers began to slowly decline. This was in part due to the arrival of package holidays abroad to places such as the Mediterranean, where hot weather and sandy beaches were guaranteed. The demographic of those still visiting Blackpool also began to change. According to Brodie and Whitfield, in 1972, it was estimated that the majority of visitors to the resort were over 45 and were from lower social groups.

Today, the hotel is part of the Wilkinson Hotels group, who purchased 58-68 Charnley Road, combining them to form one hotel. Although the brickwork above the ground floor largely remains the same, the lime green paint and the alterations to the entrance makes the former boarding house almost unrecognisable.

58 Charnley Road in 2020 © Michala Hulme


Allan Brodie, Matthew Whitfield, Blackpool’s Seaside Heritage, (Swindon: Historic England, 2014)

John K. Walton, The British Seaside: Holidays and resorts in the twentieth century, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000)

Susan Barton, Working-class organisations and popular tourism, 1840-1970, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005)

‘Our House’: 84 Albert Road, Blackpool

For the first of my ‘Our House’ blogs, I would like you to join me as we grab our buckets and spades and travel to Blackpool, to visit Mrs Naylor’s boarding house.

Mrs Naylor was actually the third proprietor of ‘Elmhurst House’. It is worth noting that 84 Albert Road would have several names over the next century. When it was first built, it was actually called Phoenix House.

The first occupants of the house were the Meadowcrofts from Oldham. Rosanna Meadowcroft and her husband, Jonas, had moved to Blackpool in the late 1880s.

An early colour postcard of Blackpool

Rosanna Meadowcroft managed the boarding house while her husband worked briefly as a brewer, before setting up an auction and valuation business. It appears from the census that they had a reasonably comfortable existence, employing a housekeeper and waitress to help with the day-to-day running of the boarding business.

The Meadowcrofts continued to operate the boarding house until 1907 when tragically and unexpectedly, Jonas died. With no children to support her, Rosanna decided to leave 84 Albert Road and move back to her native Oldham.

The next occupants of 84 Albert Road were the Butson family from Lancashire. Somewhat unusually for this period, it was both Thomas Butson and his wife Mary that managed the boarding house – normally during this period it would be Mary Butson who managed the boarding house. Mary assisted in the business while also caring for the couple’s three children; Clement born 1904, Majorie born in 1908 and Alfred Leslie born in 1909.

The couple’s youngest son, Clement, would make a name for himself as one of the best-known circus producers in the post-war era. At the age of 24, he became the Manager of the Blackpool Tower Company before becoming a Junior Executive of the Tower Circus. From there he was promoted to Entertainments Manager for the Tower Company, responsible for all their live productions. As the Guardian states, this meant he was in charge of the live performances of virtually the whole of Blackpool. Clem travelled the world to bring the best entertainment to Blackpool. He brought artists such as Vivian Leigh and Gracie Fields to the resort. In 1947, he took his talents outside of Blackpool and began working with the legend, ‘King of Pantomine’ Tom Arnold. Clem’s work included bringing the Moscow State Circus to London and Manchester, and directing a Texas rodeo of 100 horses in London. His work was described as ‘The finest production of a circus that the modern world has ever seen’.

In 1913, when Clem Butson was still living at 84 Albert Road, the house appeared in several newspapers for all the wrong reasons when a thief stole a purse from one of the guests.

Just over a year after the above story was published, Britain entered into WWI. Throughout the war, the Butson family remained at 84 Albert Road, moving out not long after it had officially ended. The next occupiers were the Naylor family. As per the postcard at the start of this blog, it was Mrs Mary Elizabeth Naylor that was the proprietor of the boarding house.

When Mary Naylor took over in 1920, Blackpool was attracting approximately 8 million visitors per year. It was one of the most popular seaside resorts in Britain. Visitors to the resort during this period could enjoy such attractions as Blackpool Zoo, a visit to the circus, dancing at the Tower Ballroom, a trip to the Pleasure Beach or a walk down the ‘Golden Mile’, enjoying some of the weird and wonderful stalls.

Mary Naylor remained in charge of 84 Albert Road until 1934. However in 1933, a shocking event occurred at the house that led to a servant being charged with murder! On the night of the 28th October 1933, Elsie Elizabeth Sanderson complained to Mary that she felt ill. Mary and her daughter helped Elsie get into bed and cared for her. At 4 am, Mary heard strange noises coming from the bathroom and sent her daughter to investigate. When her daughter looked into the bathroom, she could see that Elsie appeared very sick. A doctor was sent for, and he sent Elsie straight to the hospital. In the meantime, Mary Naylor was looking through a window and into the yard, when she saw what she thought was the body of a baby. The baby was still alive and was transferred to the hospital, where she sadly died.

Elsie was later charged and pleaded guilty to infanticide. At her trial at the Lancaster Assizes, she stated that she did not remember anything about the evening. Her bench reported that she had been very ill since the night in question and had been in the care of two doctors. Elsie’s mother also testified that the man who had got her daughter pregnant was planning to marry her. She further stated that Mrs Naylor was prepared to keep her daughter on as a domestic servant. All these factors seemed to have worked in her favour, and after hearing the evidence, Elise was given a nominal sentence of one day.

It’s not clear whether Mary initially re-employed Elsie following the trial. However, by the beginning of August 1934, she was advertising for a new maid.

Mary did not only use the newspapers for advertising for staff, but she also used it to promote her boarding house business. During the 1920s and the first part of the 1930s, she regularly advertised 84 Albert Road in the local and national press. However, her adverts suddenly stop in the autumn of 1934.

After finding no living records for Mary after 1935, I decided to look and see if I could find a death for her. I searched in Blackpool and couldn’t find anything. I then decided to explore outside of the area and discovered that Mary died of a pulmonary embolism at the Stanley Hospital in Liverpool.

Probate record for Mary Elizabeth Naylor

Following Mary’s death, the Cook family took over the boarding house. Elizabeth Cook and her husband, Percy Reginald Cook moved into Elmhurst House in 1935.

Like Mary Naylor, Elizabeth Cook also used the newspaper to promote 84 Albert Road. In 1935, she placed over 45 adverts in local papers to try to get business. Comparing Naylor’s and Cook’s adverts, it is evident that the Cooks’ had upgraded the accommodation, providing electricity and washbasins in some of the rooms. She also charged a reasonable rent, charging a daily rate 14/6 in 1953, which was the average rate for a room at that time.

Elizabeth Cook left the boarding house in the 1950s, and a new owner took over the business. However, by 1980s, 84 Albert Road and the subsequent houses next door were purchased and turned into one hotel called The Georgian. In 1987, the hotel got a famous owner when legendary singer Vince Hill joined the board of the hotel chain who owned it. He was quoted as saying that his attention would be on The Georgian, where he hoped they could extend the cabaret room so they could have ‘Vince Hill weekends’.

Today, the hotel is still called The Georgian. Although the building has been extended on the top floor and the ground floor/entrance has changed, it is still just about possible to make out the old boarding house.

84 Albert Road, Blackpool © Michala Hulme 2020


‘Clem Butson: A Gentle Showman: Obituary’, The Guardian, (27 June 1988), p.37.

‘Girl Remanded’, Lancashire Evening Post, (20 November 1933), p.7.

‘Mr Clem Butson’, The Times, (28 June 1988), p.16.

‘Vince moves into Hotels’, The Stage, (12 March 1987), p.3.