The contest began in the Summer of 1945 under the name “Bathing Beauty Queen”, organised by the Morecambe Local Council in partnership with the ‘Sunday Dispatch’ newspaper. Morecambe went on to become the home of Miss Great Britain between 1956 and 1989.
The contests were aimed at a family audience – men could enjoy watching pretty girls, women could have fun backing their favourites and young girls could aspire to be a bathing beauty when they grew up. For the girls who entered, there was the lure of cash prizes, and potential fame and fortune.
The first ever Miss Great Britain final was watched by 4,300 people in a continuous downpour. The winner received a cup and according to the local newspaper ‘a paltry prize’ of seven guineas as well as a swimsuit. Prize money increased to £100 the following year, £500 the next and reached £1000 in the fifties due to it’s popularity. The contest has continued to offer the largest prize fund of any competition run by a municipal authority.
The sixties saw the beginning of the decline in British seaside holidays with families increasingly able to afford trips abroad. A new competition format was needed and was realised with the introduction of television to MIss Great Britain in 1971. By 1978, the prize fund had increased to £10,000 thanks to the competition’s sponsors, and the popularity of the competition was again on the rise.
Due to this increase in popularity, in recent years more and more heats have been added and Regional Finals have been introduced throughout the country.
The modern-day Miss Great Britain competition has been built upon an extensive history of successful pageants and has helped launch the careers of many women who entered.