Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The Forgotten Tourist Hostesses of 1950s Brighton

If you've ever had an unpleasant experience as a tourist in Brighton – overdone it in the sun, paid too much to park (likely), bought fish and chips caked in grease (hmmm,
I'm guessing that's probably most people!) – there was a time you weren't always left to fend for yourselves. Brighton did actually care about the experience of its day tripping visitors. 

For 10 years from 1952, if you took a weekend day out to Brighton, chances are you were greeted by these six girls working the promenade in airline hostess outfits, high heels and white gloves, on hand to help visitors with anything, from hiring a deckchair and sending postcards to lighting cigarettes (it was the 50s after all...) and finding the best souvenirs. 

They were called The Promettes and were hired from a local modelling school for their looks, poise and language skills (sexist, much?).  Apart from the fact they needed to be 5ft 7inches or taller, disclosure alert: I'm yet to find out much more about these ladies – for example, who was the brains behind this PR stunt? Who designed those snazzy outfits? What was the weirdest thing they were asked? What really went on inside the Promette HQ caravan? I'm afraid not much seems to exist down the Google rabbit hole. So while I carry on searching, in the meantime, what I have found is this hilarious promotional newsreel from 1956 lurking in the British Pathé You Tube archives. This typically British-style documentary is a laugh-out-loud look into the life of a Promette and the rules these 'walking mines of information – with sex appeal added' had to follow to stay out of trouble: 'Never approach a man and his wife or girlfriend, you'll only get a dirty look from the woman and the man will be led off.' Enjoy!

Gotta love the awkward family photo moment at 0.55!