He’d been stuck indoors for over 10 years with aching legs and associated health issues and just had to get out of the house. Things were about to change.
Preston based Michael Brady is about 45 years old and, like a lot of us, rather overweight and battling depression. But, in Michael’s case he was born with rheumatoid arthritis and didn’t start to walk until six years old.
Michael was motivated and inspired when a friend showed him a detecting magazine and, as a result, he went and bought a detector. In no time at all he says, “I was hooked”. The good news is that the hobby encouraged him to get out and walk more. As a result, he’s gradually losing weight and friends now call him ‘Metal Micky’.
On one of his early forays using his Garrett Ace and searching on wet sand, he made a rather special find, a pendant with the following words: BLACKPOOL CARNIVAL JUNE 1923. None were believed to still exist. Michael had struck heritage gold. So, a rare piece of Blackpool history was discovered on the beach after almost 95 years.
Blackpool is soon to get its first museum – telling the story of Britain’s first mass seaside resort and its place in the history of popular culture. The museum is due to open in 2021 and will be named SHOWTOWN.
Michael offered to donate his find to Blackpool’s Heritage Collection as they didn’t have one.
A spokesman for The Blackpool Museum Project said:
“Blackpool began what it thought would be a new tradition, holding an annual Carnival in June. The 1923 Carnival was such a greatsuccess that another even bigger and longer carnival was arranged to take place the following year. Unfortunately the 1924 carnival was set to be the last of its kind Blackpool held … although the crowds were equally as immense as the previous year, drunkenness and violence were rife.”
So, the find was rather significant. In 1923 Blackpool organised its first Carnival and in 2017, the year Michael found the pendant, the Carnival was re-launched.
Emma Heslewood, Curator of the Museum Project, said:
“We are delighted to hear of this exciting discovery on Blackpool’s beach. The pendant is a rare souvenir of the 1923 Blackpool Carnival which was held in June and attracted over two million visitors who enjoyed processions along the promenade and entertainment including pageants, dog shows and motor races.”
“Michael’s souvenir pendant features an image of Blackpool girl Florence Stevenson who was the face of the 1923 Carnival. Emma said, “Her image appears on other souvenirs including the front cover of the Blackpool Carnival song … we don’t have an example of the Carnival pendant in the collection …”
Until now, of course!
In November 2017 Blackpool Museum Project announced that they were ‘absolutely thrilled’ with Michael’s donation and said, “this beautiful souvenir … joins other items from the Carnival in the Heritage Blackpool collections. Blackpool holds extensive collections on its history as the UK’s largest seaside resort including images and postcards related to its carnivals.”
I like a story with a feel-good factor. At a time when detectorists are chastised and maligned by some for simply carrying out their hobby, this is yet another example of the good they can do. Michael hasn’t found a gold artefact worth a lot of money, but he has uncovered an important part of Blackpool’s history and donated it to their heritage collection … and that’s priceless! Well done, and thanks to Michael for sharing his delightful story.
Michael has the last word,”Since I got my detector and starting to get healthier, plus the feeling when you find something nice, kills any pain so I would advise any one in a similar situation as me to get involved in the hobby”.
The lady on the pendant
Florence Stevenson, who used to perform in a music hall on the Prom, was picked to be the face of the huge event. The pendant is understood to have been brought to the surface by the strong winds, which also whipped up strong emotions for the family of the woman pictured on it.