Barry Island Beach And Fair In Old Postcards

Following on from my last post about the Golden Age of Barry Island, I thought now would be a good chance to share some vintage views of the Island via the medium of postcard.

I’ve always liked the aesthetics of certain types of postcards, especially those of a certain age. I like that some postcards have a strange colour palette thanks to the manual doctoring of the original image. I like ones that try to make places look more exotic than they are (as you’ll see below). I like the idealised views, but most of all with this little collection, I like that fact that they’re a great visual record of how Barry Island once was and the things that made it special for me.




The cards I have mostly range from the 1960s through to the present day. They’re a great record of the gradual decline and change of the resort, with beach scenes from the 1960s and 1970s being noticeably busier than later scenes. I’ll start with the earliest card, which dates from the 1920s and work my way via themed groups. Please note that some of the dates I’ve attached to the cards are estimated. Some I’ve dated from the post mark on the cards, others that are blank are dated by the style of the card and the people in it. None are hard and fast and I’m happy to be corrected if you notice something is well out.

Ok, so first up is this one from the 1920s, which is of one of my favourite buildings on the Island. In this card it was The Merrie Friars’ CafĂ©, and it’s been a lot of things since on the upper floors, including a bar, a gym and more. Not sure when the building was built, and if this was its first stint in business, but it’s interesting to see it in this guise. It’s featured in a couple of artworks I’ve made over they years, as well as being the back-drop to a couple of short-stories I wrote.

The Merrie Friars' Cafe 1920s - Now Caesar's Palace

The Merrie Friars’ Cafe 1920s – Now Caesar’s Palace (Photographer Unknown)

Next up are a run of beach scenes, arranged roughly in chronological order. I’ve mentioned before how opposing the old Butlins camp was up on Nell’s Point, it really comes across in these beach scenes and gives a grand sense of scale. The loss of that really affected the look and feel of the beach for me. It’s also great to see the old cable car working on the camp, that’s another thing that always impressed me as a kid and has become an often used motif in my artworks. Notice how busy the beach is in the earlier photos, and how it quietens down a bit towards the later cards. Also, some great reminders for us youngsters with the donkey carts and inflatables on the beach. The one shaped like a UFO was a particular favourite.

A view of the beach - 1970s

A view of the beach – 1970s (Photographer Unknown)

A view of the beach - 1980s

A view of the beach – 1980s (Photographer Unknown)

A view of the beach - 1980s

A view of the beach – 1980s (Photographer Unknown)

A view of the beach late 1980s

A view of the beach late 1980s (Photographer Unknown)

Here’s some other views of the beach, from the opposite angle. The beach looks a lot sparser in these photos, but I suspect they were taken out of the main season, the weather looks a bit grey. Good to get an angle with the Somerset coast in view on the horizon.

From Nell's Point looking over the beach - 1960s

From Nell’s Point looking over the beach – 1960s (Photographer Unknown)

From Nell's Point looking over the beach - 1970s

From Nell’s Point looking over the beach – 1970s (Photographer Unknown)

These cards focus more on the fair and the promenade, and my look how busy and bustling it was! Lots going on in some of these cards. Worthy of note is the old scenic railway that towered over the resort. This was demolished in 1973 so before my time, but it’s fascinating to see it – I wish it had lasted long enough to be a memory for me. It’s also interesting to see the overspill from the beach with people sat on the banks and gardens on the promenade.

The old scenic railway and promenade at night late 1960s

The old scenic railway and promenade at night late 1960s (Photographer Unknown)

A view of the beach and promenade early 1970s

A view of the beach and promenade early 1970s (Photographer Unknown)

A view of the busy promenade 1970s

A view of the busy promenade 1970s (Photographer Unknown)

View of the fun fair in the late 1970s

View of the fun fair in the late 1970s (Photographer Unknown)

This next run are all multiview cards. Some feature images above alongside other unseen views, and once more the roughly chronological in their order.

A multi-view card from the early 1960s

A multi-view card from the early 1960s (Photographer Unknown)

A multi-view card from the late 1960s

A multi-view card from the late 1960s (Photographer Unknown)

A multi-view card from the early 1970s

A multi-view card from the early 1970s (Photographer Unknown)

A multi-view card from the early 1970s

A multi-view card from the early 1970s (Photographer Unknown)

A multi-view card from the early 1970s

A multi-view card from the early 1970s (Photographer Unknown)

A multi-view card from the early 1970s

A multi-view card from the early 1970s (Photographer Unknown)

A multi-view card from the late 1970s

A multi-view card from the late 1970s (Photographer Unknown)

A multi-view card from the early 1980s

A multi-view card from the early 1980s (Photographer Unknown)

This final card is a view of the neighbouring resort at Cold Knap. We didn’t visit there that often, as kids it was the Island or nought, but it’s a good view back across towards the harbour side of the Island, and a place I still visit from time to time now, especially for the Skatepark for my son.

Over looking Cold Knap, 1970s

Over looking Cold Knap, 1970s (Photographer Unknown)

And there we have, a bright and exotic view of Barry Island, the type you only ever find in postcards, and these days, memories! Stay tuned as I’ll be sharing some more old postcards from Barry Island in the near future.

Comments 4

  1. Rachael Edwards 22nd March 2017
    • David 22nd March 2017
  2. Nicola Collins 22nd March 2017
    • David 22nd March 2017

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