Back in the 1950s, the bright lights of Blackpool and the beaches of New Brighton were always high on Liverpool’s list for a good day out.

The rollercoasters of Belle Vue were a powerful draw too, especially at Easter and Bank Holiday weekends.

Belle Vue park Fun fair in Manchester during the August Bank Holiday, August 1949

And the ferry to the Isle of Man was always busy, with thousands making the crossing every summer from the Liverpool landing stage.

While many of the resorts are just as popular today, one has shut down with only a few reminders left of its glorious past.

In its post-war heyday, Belle Vue truly was the playground of the North West. Holiday weekend crowds of 250,000 were common in the 1950s as visitors flocked to its zoo and amusement park.

New Brighton Pier, Wallasey, Wirral, Merseyside. 8th August 1950.

Rides like the Bobs rollercoaster – so called because it cost a shilling – and the Water Chute were major attractions, along with animal feeding times. At its height, Belle Vue covered an area of 165 acres.

But two major fires in 1958 and 1964 hit Belle Vue hard. The first destroyed a number of buildings, including the Pagoda restaurant, Tudor Suite and five shops.

Swift action by firemen and staff ensured there were no casualties – and all the animals, except for one lioness, were saved.

The second blaze in October 1964 engulfed the Cumberland and Windermere Suites, but they were reopened in a year.

Belle Vue struggled on, but eventually succumbed to mounting costs and competition from other theme parks. The zoo closed in 1977 and the site was finally cleared in 1987.

The memories, of course, still remain.

New Brighton developed as a popular seaside resort in the second half of the 19th century. A new pier was opened in 1867 and the promenade from Seacombe to New Brighton was completed in 1901. It is now the longest in the UK.

In 1934, Viscount Leverhulme opened New Brighton’s Art Deco open-air swimming pool. It was the largest lido in Britain and cost £90,000 to build.

New Brighton Outdoor Bathing Pool, Wirral. 11th June 1934.

A hugely popular attraction, the saltwater pool of the lido survived until 1990 when it was demolished after being damaged by a storm.

Although New Brighton’s popularity waned after the war, the resort was still a favourite for families looking for a day away from the grind of daily life.

Our remarkable photo from 1959 shows a father expertly changing a nappy, safety pin in mouth, while his wife enjoys a well-earned rest. The famous donkey rides can be glimpsed in the background.

New Brighton’s Tower Ballroom remained a major venue for Liverpool bands, including the Beatles, throughout the 1950s and 60s. It was eventually destroyed by fire in 1969.

The Beatles often played Blackpool too, a resort that has always had strong links with Liverpool. The tower, trams and illuminations have always proved a magnet for Merseysiders.

Many films and dramas have been shot there over the years. Granada TV soap Coronation Street has visited many times – so too has Brookside.

One of the most well-known occasions was when Tim ‘Tinhead’ O’Leary and Emily Shadwick, played by Liverpool actors Philip Olivier and Jennifer Ellison, stole Susannah Morrisey’s car to enjoy a weekend there.

Ex-Brookside soap actress Jennifer Ellison

It ended badly as the pair stole from another hotel guest and set fire to the car on the way back!

Sometimes there was no need for a ferry crossing or long road journey to enjoy a day out. A remarkable photo from July 1966 shows just how exciting a trip to the park can be for young children.

Holidaymakers returning from the Isle of Man make their way along Liverpool landing stage from the steamer ship Mona Isle. The Ben My chree ship behind loads up to take another shipful for their holiday, Merseyside. 4th August 1951

It shows children from Garston literally running for the bus to take them to Sefton Park with the dock cranes in the background.

A group of children from Garston, Liverpool enjoy a day out at Sefton Park in the summer holidays. Here, the group rush for the bus to take them to park away from the cranes at Garston docks, pictured in the background, Merseyside. 20th July 1966.

They no doubt had a wonderful time!

*Hundreds of pictures from an unforgettable decade are packed into Clive Hardy’s fascinating book Around Merseyside in the 1960s. It’s available at £9.99 plus postage and packaging.

And don’t miss Clive’s brilliant book on Belle Vue. Just go to to place your order or ring the hotline on 01928 503777.