FACILITIES FOR TRAVELLING.
Upon the completion of the lines of railway which have been sanctioned by the legislature, persons may leave the most remote places in the kingdom without that serious consideration which under the old system of travelling was necessary. The packet, which actually performs the passage between Manchester and Scarisbrick Bridge (within six miles of Southport) in one entire day, will, it is presumed, be converted to some baser use; and the stage coaches, easy, safe, luxurious vehicles, as they have been of late years, are to be superseded by first, second, and third-class trains, combining the speed of lightning with the comfort of a chair at your own homes. The coachmen, too, merry, tale-telling, jovial fellows, as they are, will find their occupation gone, and the whip and the reins will be to them things of recollection. The road-side inns will share the fate that almost all similar establishments have met with since the introduction of steam; and the very turnpike roads are threatened to be usurped by green grass and noxious weeds. Cooke, Howarth, and Fidler, farewell! the scream of the railway whistle is to be substituted for the sonorous "all right" of your careful charioteers, and the progress of Southport is onward!
To say that our two direct lines will place us in connection with the great trunk lines of railway which intersect the country, is sufficient to prove that with respect to facility in travelling, we have all that we could reasonably desire.
Apartments, either at the inns or private houses, may be obtained at comparative moderate terms. Bed-rooms and sitting-rooms range from half a guinea to fifteen shillings each per week. In private lodgings, a charge of half a crown per week is made for cooking, and a gratuity is expected for waiting and extra attention. At the hotels, board and lodging may be obtained at from six to seven shillings per day, including gratuities to the servants of the establishment.
Furnished cottages are charged from one guinea and a half to six guineas per week, according to the number of beds, in "the season," the parties who take them finding their own linen and plate, and half-price in winter; which reduced terms are also observed at the lodging-houses in the latter season.
It is questionable whether these reduced terms ought to take place. The advantages of a winter residence are decidedly great in many cases. Many still exclaim at the idea of a sea-side residence in the winter, and would as soon think of fixing their abode at Greenland or Spitzbergen, being little aware that the climate of Southport, situated as it is on the open coast, and swept from east to west and from north to south by the winds of heaven, is dryer and milder at that time than any of our inland towns; that it is seldom visited by fogs, and those fogs might rather be termed mists; and that rain falls in very small quantities, and is almost immediately absorbed by our sandy, thirsty soil. These are characteristics which cannot be overrated, and are well appreciated by those who have ventured to try whether it were possible to exist here in winter. To their surprise, the aged have found that they breathed more freely; that their step became firmer that their appetite, supposed to be irrecoverably lost, had again returned to them; to sum up all, that they had taken out a new lease of their lives. Parents have seen their puny, sickly offspring, whom they had treated as hot-house plants, gradually, we might almost say suddenly, assume a healthy, cheerful appearance. In every stage of life, and at every part of the year, persons may be benefited by a residence in Southport; and it is impossible to say whether more invalids require the dry, bracing breezes of winter, or the soft and balmy zephyrs of summer. If these are facts, and who will be so reckless of their veracity as to deny the truth of them? —why should a "half-price" exist at all? Certainly not; unless it can be satisfactorily proved that in the winter season persons only receive half benefit. Look at the natives; or the settlers either; they do not find it necessary to leave this supposed frigid latitude for a more torrid one; and yet our parish registers display the astounding and gratifying information that "three score years and ten" is not, by any means, the limit, and scarcely the average, of a Meols man's existence. These important truths ought to be widely disseminated, as much for the interests of the town as for the common cause of humanity.
Persons often remark that the terms for apartments are too high; but never was there a greater fallacy. Visiters arrive here, perhaps, in the height of the season, when almost every apartment may be engaged, and they find that for the accommodation of a comfortable and well furnished house, including cooking and attendance, families are charged as much, or it may be more, as three guineas per week; or at the rate of one hundred and fifty-six guineas per year! "An imposition," say they; but how does the case really stand? A respectable widow lady, for instance, becomes the tenant of a house at the rent of twenty pounds, or including rates and taxes, about twenty-four pounds, per annum. Having almost impoverished herself to obtain every article necessary for the accommodation of visiters, the house, at the spring of the year, is decorated and made as attractive as possible. Towards April or May visiters begin to arrive rather freely; and if our heroine has "a connexion," (that is, if she has been a resident for some years,) she may let her rooms about that time, and, with intervals, continue to re-let them to the end of October, and if she does she is extremely fortunate. In the course of that time she may have received seventy pounds; out of which she has to pay twenty-four pounds for rent, &c., to pay for assistance, which cannot be rated at less than ten pounds, leaving, in one of the most profitable instances that can be imagined, an overplus of between thirty and forty pounds, not too much for her comfortable support for a year. To obtain this sum, even under such favourable auspices, she has had to sacrifice all ideas of her own personal accommodation; has had to take her meals no one knows when, and to sleep no one knows where. If this is the condition of a lodging-house keeper with a connexion, how do those fare who have no connexion, but await with patience that zenith of such an existence? The sum received will scarcely be two-thirds of the above amount; may not be one half. Thirty-five pounds for rent, taxes, and existence! —who can tell the privations which must be undergone before the commencement of another season induces the renewed hope of a connexion? Bad as this latter state is, there is a worse, to which all are liable. Changes in the times, uncertain weather, and other causes, may make a bad and unprofitable season; in which case, too often, the effects of the lodging-house keeper are "sold, without reserve," and the unfortunate owner "changes her residence." Are these extreme or rare cases? No; each year swells the catalogue of such unfortunates, and "their name is legion, for they are many." The benevolent and facetious Punch has caricatured the lodging-house keepers at watering-places as "the ogres who live upon their lodgers; "and it would be well if all who embark in this uncertain and unprofitable calling could really do so. Nothing more would be required to produce this desirable state of affairs than that the advantages of a sea-side residence be obtained by all who require it. As this is not, nor will not ever be the case, a repetition of such domestic calamities as we have alluded to must take place. Visiters, pay freely, and be liberal to the lodging-house keeper!
Of how much importance to visiters is the assurance that the "supplies" are abundant and regular. To be informed that the town is beautiful, the shore extensive, the air pure, the accommodation first-rate, the travelling all that can be desired, are trifling matters, if the visiters are in a state of oblivion as to this most consequential one. Well, then, be it known to all whom it may concern, that whether they desire to live extravagantly or economically, to discuss port or porter, their wishes may be fully gratified.
An abundant supply of flesh-meat, fowls, and game (when in season), is always kept up. Rabbits, with which the sand-hills swarm, are noted for their delicacy. Fish of the choicest kind is caught in immense quantities, and is remarkably cheap. Shrimps and cockles, respecting which much has been sung and said, are also taken in extraordinary quantities, and are much esteemed for their size and flavour.
Provisions of every kind, groceries, wines and spirits, ale and porter, all of first-rate quality, may be purchased on fully as advantageous terms as in large towns. It may be interesting to state the fact that the town is singularly well supplied with that necessary of life, pure water. Even on the shore, almost washed over by the tide, water, clear as crystal, and without the slightest brackish taste, is met with at the depth of half a yard. As may be readily conceived, the sinking of a well in the town is a very inexpensive undertaking.