The Revoe Inn also known as 'Mean Inn'
A History of Revoe
The late Alan Stott was a pupil at Revoe and believed to be the first pupil from the school to go Cambridge University. An authority on Blackpool history, he traces the transformation from rural Revoe to what it is today...
The late Alan Stott
To most, Revoe was centred on Ibbison Street, now no more. Revoe had in fact two well-defined boundaries and two somewhat vague. Its northern boundary lay by present Palatine Road, running up the hill then down across Whitegate Lane, anciently marked by crosses of Cockersand Abbey. These I believe were stone crosses for some adjoining fields that bore references to stone in the name. Indeed the field near the present Central Drive and the boundary was simply known as Stone Field, and this, like a few others up the hill had long been occupied by Blackpool folk. The Warbreck family of Chapel Street owned this stone field from the early 17th century, and probably long before.
The western boundary was set by the Spen and other dykes just west of Central Drive, the eastern rather vaguely by the hilltop now traversed by Park Road and the southern by what became the line of Spen Green Lane, now Bloomfield Road. Even when Victoria took the throne there were no roads other than pathways through the entire area of farmsteads, two small ones on the hillside with the two principal ones near the 25 feet contour line at the foot of the hill. They were Revoe Farm, where the Library and Gymnasium came, and one at the bottom of Condor Grove, which the Rev. William Thornber bought for £2,150 in 1835 to endow St. John's Church. By 1897, when its 54 acres were sold to an estate company, the price had risen to £20,000. Eventually the council housing estate now crossed by Lune and Condor Groves was built there. The slightly smaller Revoe Farm also ran up the hill to Park Road, but by Victorian times was eaten into towards the northern end by some 8 acres that Richard Warbreck owned. It was also occupied by Blackpool people such as Wylies, Craggs and Catons.
The farmers in the 16th century were Hodgson, Bamber, Sandersons and Nickson and a large part owned by the Worthingtons of Blanscough Hall in Coppul. In 1729 they sold some 20 acres of Revoe Farm to Thomas Sanderson, and a similar piece to John Sanderson of Lytham, which later came to Robert Nelson. The Tithe Award map shows a field called Nelsons at the side of our Central Drive. The Worthingtons also owned part of Church Farm occupied in the 1680s by Christopher Jackson. Later Robert Rimmer took it, and the Tithe Award shows Rimmers Longfield, along which Lune Grove now runs. The Church Farm had been rebuilt in 1758, and I suspect Revoe Farm replaced an old cobble and thatched one at a similar time. Church Farm was demolished in 1907, standing in the way of a road, and Revoe Farm after 1901 for the library.
In the 19th century Revoe Farm was first owned by John Hull and he sold it in 1859 to John Moor. The area was still rural but this was soon changed by Thomas Ibbison, a moss-side farmer, who in 1863 bought 3 acres of Revoe Farm from Moor and built houses on the line of future Central Drive, with Ibbison Street running eastwards in the middle. Terraced houses were gradually built along its length with stables and coach house in the southern back street, where donkeys plying the beach were stabled, and Revoe Lane developed from the farm running north to turn by Nelson's Row into Chapel Street.
In Blackpool Great Marton Road had been made as far as Bonny's Farm on Chapel Street and it was not until 1882 that these were joined at a cost of 340 13s. 0d., paid by the Railway in return for the Corporation withdrawing its opposition to one of their extension bills. Central Drive, as it became, then ran from Hounds Hill to Revoe Farm, but was not extended to Waterloo Road until the mid-1890s.
By the 1870s farming was clearly declining and Blackpool's annexation of Revoe in 1879 speedily ended the rural scene. Land was increasingly sold off to builders, and Revoe Hill became the home of Cardwell Brothers' brickfields. In 1869 Richard Cookson bought both Whitegate and Revoe Farms, and his executors sold the remains of Revoe Farm in 1891 to Dr. W. H. Cocker's Cleveleys Estate Company for £1,700.
Three years previously the company had bought 8 acres at the top of Bloomfield, just outside the Marton boundary, almost encircled by Spen Dyke. Here a wooden bungalow was built with stables, which Cocker occupied when he left South Shore. Dick Cartmel, who had been put in Revoe Farm, acted as Cocker's coachman, butler and gardener. Strangely no photographs seem to exist of either this or his South Shore dwelling. Inside rats occupied not only his wife's dressing table but nestled in bedclothes, whilst outside his large dog was kept entertained by watching cows and horses being rescued from the dyke. [A Lidl store now occupies the site.]
For what follows I must point out that in 1897 Cocker bought 5'5f acres for £1,250 from Whitegate Farm near the hilltop, maybe a prelude to a scheme he arranged in 1901 to create a boulevard through the land of Revoe Farm, continuing all the way to Whitegate Drive, with a large square at the Revoe End. It was fated not to happen. Also, regarding later happenings, Ibbison's executors sold 6 acres on the hill top to Jabez Kay, where Pelham Mount was built, best remembered later as a transport club.
I should perhaps mention that a cottage at the corner of Ibbison Street and Central Drive became a beer house with James Bagot as landlord. Known as the Revoe Inn, it was bought in 1887 by Leo Waddington with Thomas Lingard as tenant. A joiner in Preston Old Road, he lost his arm in a machine, so his wife Elizabeth acted as landlady, taking the beer round in quart mugs. Around 1893 it was demolished for the George Hotel, a great centre for fisticuffs from the unruly element of Ibbison Street. After one brawl a man had to send for a doctor. He shouted through the letterbox "Quick, a gentleman from Ibbison Street has been injured." Back came the reply "There are no gentlemen in Ibbison Street."
Before quitting this hasty race around Revoe, I should mention that Revoe schools and recreation ground together with part of Queen Victoria Road on Cocker's land, and Mayor Avenue nearby, recall the man who was mayor six times. I had first hand experience of the improvements accomplished by the 1920s. Having been interviewed by Clara Fitton to be a pupil at her private school on Whitegate Drive, my mother was swayed by a neighbour, a former teacher, saying that I would learn more at Revoe School. I certainly did, and not just the 3 Rs; school classmates were supplied with boots from the Chief Constables clothing fund, wore jerseys with holes some 6 inches in diameter in front and went to a chip shop for lunch consisting of an ha'pth of scraps, the frizzled remains of batter droppings. Despite the supposed efforts of the august Dr. Martha Adams, the school medical, attired in headdress and flowing robes of many hues - scarcely a consumer-friendly woman - the children continued to suffer from a variety of ailments. The staff at Revoe School were first rate, and struggled gallantly with a difficult catchment area.
Let me come now to the happening on Revoe Hilltop where the Church, Revoe and Whitegate lands met, after farming had ceased. Although they began before I saw them, they continued until Park Road was made in the early 1930s. Before the housing came on St. John's estate a collection of small enterprises were in existence near the hill top, such as poultry enclosures and piggeries. It was a form of animal allotment and cheap into the bargain. One piggery paid £1 a year rent for 25 square yard and a hen pen paid all of £2 year. This of course ended when Lune and Condor Groves came into flower and other intentions vanished when Cocker was forced to sell 1.5 acres out of the 5.5 acres he had bought off Whitegate Farm. That was to extend St. John's housing on to the intended Park Road and Balmer Grove, and prevented Cookson's plan for Salisbury Road to run its full length, terminating it at Westmorland Avenue.
A little north at the top of Cumberland Avenue, Cardwells had built a brickworks, which closed around 1907 causing considerable despoliation that began the strange area I remember. Just north of that as far as Pelham Mount was the ground which Jabez Kay had bought from Ibbison and never used. His son Tom Wylie Kay, the solicitor, seems to have been too busy attending to mortgages and immersed in amateur dramatics and operatics to bother with it, except to hopefully let its value mature, for polite access to the Mount was by Park Avenue on its north. Here then as had happened on the St. John's Land, were the ingredients necessary for folk to fill the vacuum left by people who couldn't care much, and that included the former Cocker land west of Salisbury Road, then held by distant trustees. The result was fascinating; where gorse and hawthorn had once dotted the perimeter fields came an expanse of stables, huts and piggeries through which ran a path were Park Road eventually came. It extended from the back of Salisbury Road to Clinton Avenue, and from Westmorland Avenue whose western part was still Rothsay Road, to as far as Pelham Mount.
In its days, Cowells had a piggery in remains of the brickworks, with an ingenious security system. A long wire ran the length with slip rings allowing tethered dogs to roam back and forth. Billy Fish kept donkeys and caravans, Jack Fisher had hen pens, and Sep Smith had a shed in the middle of all this. The making of Park Road, an idea in 1924 and completed by 1935 ended this of course. Several houses were demolished in Cunliffe Road for its passage and houses soon built by the side of that former wasteland. So far as I know, no one has ever recorded this aspect of a town in transition.
last updated: 03/02/2009 at 09:31
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