When Sarah Horn began photographing hotel frontages in Blackpool, little did she know that her collection would result in a unique archive of coastal architecture, vernacular typography and unconscious poetry.
Sarah has made a mission of photographing the B&Bs and independent hotels of Blackpool. The results of her efforts have now been published in En-Suites Available. The title is an affectionate nod to the fact that rooms with their own bathrooms are seen as a selling point, when it might be expected they’d be standard in a hotel stay in the twenty first century.
Other than an index of the establishments featured (including street name and postcode) it’s entirely a photograph book. There are one hundred and sixteen postcard sized landscape images of the frontages of apartments, bed and breakfasts, flats and hotels. The properties showcased are set out in alphabetical order from the rather unusually named ‘The Address’ on Reads Avenue to the three star Wynnstay Hotel on Hornby Road. Some relatively large independent hotels on the Promenade are included, such as The Lyndene and The Queens.
It struck me that it’s as much an archive of tourism fonts and typography as it is a record of architecture, and the notes on the back cover affirm this intention; a resource for sociologists of tourism, typography collectors and those who, when everyone looks at the sunset, turn the other way.
There is also a wide and contrasting display of architecture captured for posterity, and also differing quality of external marketing judging by a few cases where letters in signage have fallen off or in some cases being conspicuously replaced in an ad hoc and jarring fashion. Generally though, the desire to project a warm welcome and stand out in a crowded market comes through in most of the exhibits.
As someone who first came to Blackpool for holiday nearly half a century ago I found the book both nostalgic and a fascinating work capturing an independent hotelier approach to marketing in Blackpool that continues to this day. Why not get yourself a copy then join one of the walks?
Blackpool Type Walk
Join Sarah and Justin Burns (lecturer and researcher of British seaside typography) on Saturday 14 May for an inspiring walk around the hidden typographic gems of Blackpool.
Starting at 10:30am on the Comedy Carpet, this fun tour showcases a selection of favourite signs from the book alongside insights, and historical references. Tickets are £8.
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