The Promenade

Looking along the Promenade and Marine Lake from the north.
The Atkinson

The Promenade was built partly as a defence against the sea and the sand which threatened to engulf the buildings on Lord Street. The first phase was built in 1835 between Coronation Walk and Nevill Street. As Southport expanded northwards, so did the Promenade.

The stone embankment was originally named Marine Parade, and allowed the growing number of visitors to stroll along the seafront rather than struggle through the soft sandhills. It cost a penny to access the Promenade at either end.

Soon after, the Promenade was extended a short distance to the north with an iron bridge over Nevill Street leading to the first Victoria Baths, which opened in 1839. Hotels and large houses quickly popped up to take advantage of the increasingly desirable seafront location. One of the first was the Claremont House hotel, which later became the private home of William Atkinson, benefactor to several Southport buildings. Shortly after, the Victoria Hotel opened on the corner of Nevill Street.

Longer and livelier

By 1860 the Promenade ran as far north as Seabank Road and was lined with hotels and holiday apartments and a focus for street entertainment. Anyone could now walk along it without paying – the new Pier was now the place to walk and socialise for those who could afford the fee.

…the promenade is at its liveliest about nine o’clock, which is but just after sundown; and our Rosebud finds it difficult to go to sleep amid so much music as comes to here ears from bassoon, bag-pipe, organ, guitar, and now and then a military band.

The full extent of the Promenade from Duke Street to Park Road was built by the 1880s, but already the sea views were more distant. At the end of the Victorian period, the beach was being transformed into parks and gardens, and the Marine Lake took the place of lapping tides.

Quotation from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s English Notebooks

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