Built on Sand - Promenade

This building stood at the Coronation Walk end of the first stretch of Promenade. Here, you paid one penny each to stroll along in comfort, rather than along the sandhills. You can see the untamed sandhills at the far end.
Sefton Libraries
The Promenade was built to stabilise the dunes and stop sand and high tides reaching Lord Street. But the power of the sea could overwhelm the manmade structure. A storm in 1859 left stone blocks scattered and the sandhills revealed. This view is from the Nevill Street entry to the beach, with the original swimming baths above.
Sefton Libraries
Soon after the first stretch of the Promenade was built, it was extended to cross Nevill Street on a bridge to the new baths. The access to the beach was on the level - take a look at the Nevill Street section to find out more. The Victoria Hotel in this sketch from 1844 was one of the first purpose-built hotels in Southport
Lancashire Archives, DX/1934
By 1860, select hotels, holiday apartments and houses lined the Promenade, taking advantage of the open sea views. In that year it also became the access point for the new Pier, which took over from the Promenade as a place to stroll - for a fee.
The Atkinson, Southport
Looking south - probably not long before the Pier was built - shows how the Promenade and buildings stopped abruptly, giving way to sandhills. These were on the Blundell family's Birkdale estate, which had not yet been developed.
The Atkinson, Southport
The Promenade was gradually extended both northwards and southwards. This view is at the Duke Street end, looking south along Rotten Row. Out on the sands, work is underway to build the Cheshire Lines railway which looped over the beach before terminating on Lord Street from the mid 1880s.
The Atkinson, Southport
By the later 1800s, the sea rarely reached the Promenade. Gardens were laid out on the beach nearest the shore, and the Marine Lake dug out of the sand. This postcard from the early 1900s shows no sand at all, with new places to promenade constructed round the lake.
Tuck Postcards database
Next to the Royal Hotel, Coronation Walk rises up a ramp to reach the Promenade. Like at Nevill Street, the Promenade once crossed the road on a bridge, but this was removed earlier, although there was a pedestrian underpass to the gardens until at least 1890.
Martin Perry and Southport Civic Society

The Promenade grew in fits and starts. It was both a place to stroll and enjoy the sea views, and to protect Lord Street from the very same sea during storms and high tides.

At first the Promenade ran from Coronation Walk to Nevill Street. As it was extended to north and south, both streets were bridged with underpasses to the beach, later filled in.

The original holiday accommodation near the Pier gives way to large red-brick houses, built for wealthy residents as the Promenade developed north along the Marine Lake in the 1890s.

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