The girl who posed in the spotty dress

editorial image

When Pat Stewart posed with her friend Wendy on the railings of the Blackpool promenade one blustery day in 1951, she had no idea that the subsequent photograph would become famous.

Featherstone-born Pat, then 17, was working in the town with the Tiller Girls, when she and Wendy were approached by a reporter and photographer for the magazine Picture Post.

They wanted to photograph the girls for a competition which the magazine hoped would help boost its sales and Pat and Wendy agreed.

Pat said: “The photographer Bert Hardy had a Box Brownie camera and he took lots of photos of us on the beach and then we went up by the railings on the promenade. It was very windy that day, it’s always windy in Blackpool, and my dress kept billowing up.”

The photograph, showing Pat in a polka dot dress, has since become a hugely popular and cherished image.

For much of her life, Pat had all but forgotten about it, until, in 2006, a woman called Norma Edmondson came forward believing she was the girl in the photo. But she couldn’t recall the exact moment it was taken.

Book cover'The Girl In The Spotty Dress'By Pat Stewart with Veronica Clark

Book cover'The Girl In The Spotty Dress'By Pat Stewart with Veronica Clark

The mystery of the ‘Blackpool belle’ then took a twist when Pat came forward, after Mrs Edmondson’s appearance, to say that she was actually the girl in the picture.

She vividly remembered the day Bert took the picture in Blackpool and had the original contact sheet to prove it.

The story sparked a flurry of media interest that has prompted Pat to write a book of her memoirs.

Her book, The Girl in the Spotty Dress, co-written with author Veronica Clark, charts her story from humble beginnings in Featherstone, to showbusiness memories from the 1950s and that famous photograph.

“It is just a picture at the end of the day, but it has changed my life, although it didn’t really change it till later on,” she says. “If it hadn’t been for that photograph then I wouldn’t have told my story so I’m grateful for that. It’s wonderful because the more you write about your life, the more you remember.”

Her book, published by John Blake Publishing Ltd, is out now priced £7.99.