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Seaside Holiday in the Past

The Holiday

In 1938, a law was passed which entitled every worker to paid holiday during the year.

Working-class families couldn't afford much for a holiday, so a week at the coast was probably a big commitment; saving all year from the housekeeping to let the family get away for a break at the seaside. They had probably had workers outings by char-a-banc and later bus trips for the day, or Sunday school trips once or twice a year. People were allowed to construct wooden 'bungalows' on the sea front, if they could afford it, for a holiday-home at the coast.

Hotels and guesthouses were popular along the promenade and in Whitley Bay. "Canvas Town" camping expeditions were a cheaper option; this later became the caravan park in Whitley Bay. People would bring a windbreak, beach towels and a metal bucket and spade to the beach on the bus or train. Woollen bathing suits, knitted by Mum or Granny, looked very smart, but stretched embarrassingly when they got wet, and itched when the sand stuck to the wet wool.

No matter how careful you are eating sandwiches on the beach, grit always gets into your food and drink; "sand in your sandwiches .... sand everywhere!" is an essential part of the beach experience.

In the 1950s one or two weeks in the summer saw people coming from Edinburgh and another fortnight for Glasgow holiday makers, (Memory 110: Scottish visitors) Theatres were turned in to picture houses; there's not much to do at the beach if it rains!


Canvas Town Camp, Whitley Bay, 1912


Water Chute and Rainbow Wheel, Spanish City, Whitley Bay.


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