Without Cheap B Bs There Would Be No Ken Barlow
James Waddicor was the great grandfather of William Roache, the famous and adored Ken Barlow from Coronation Street.
Just after the 1891 census James moved away from Darwen, an industrial quarry town in Lancashire, to Blackpool.
In the 1890s Blackpool was an amazing place to be, as it was the fastest growing holiday resort in Britain.
The 1840s brought change for Blackpool with the railway expansion; now lots of people from the industrial areas around Blackpool could easily journey there. Therefore Blackpool was no longer a coastal village but a profitable town.
By 1905 with the completion of the Pleasure Beach amusement park and the already very popular Blackpool Tower, day trippers and longer weekend holiday makers enjoyed an assorted range of street entertainment.
As early as 1879 Blackpool was established as the first seaside resort to have permanent electric street lamps providing amazing entertainment in the form of the famous Blackpool Illuminations.
Entrepreneurial James launched a small shop along the esplanade where he worked as a medical electrician and phrenologist.
Even with electricity being a recent innovation, doctors liked to make use of it as a treatment for hysteria; they would pass charges of electricity through their patients' bodies to 'cure' many different health problems.
James would get the patient to grasp onto two metal handles while he turned a crank to create the electricity. Numerous visitors paid for the entertainment of experiencing electricity whilst witnessing the power of it in the Illuminations.
Phrenology was the art of reading bumps on a patient's scalp and linking these to various personality attributes.
Blackpool Council were not happy about phrenology and palmistry being marketed along the foreshore and forbade it pretty fast.
James left his son and daughter in law to sell ice creams and temperance beer at their seafront stand whilst he turned his interest to buying property, he bought 4 or 5 houses close together and rented the rooms to guests.
These simple guesthouses were the original cheap bed and breakfast hotels which would become so prevalent in Blackpool up until today.
For James, the quick rise in Blackpool's popularity meant that he was able to get rich fast.
James died leaving an estate worth nearly 5,000 pounds sterling, which in today's money would be more like half a million pounds. This money allowed Zillah, James' daughter and William Roache's grandmother to fund her own catering business at Alton Towers - recently in public hands after being sold by its aristocratic owners to pay death duties - and a young William enjoyed many happy days visiting his grandmother there.