Summer Holidays

The summer holiday was a big thing in the 1950’s. Family holidays were taken mainly in the school summer holidays i.e. second half of July/ all of August. Families went for one week or two, usually to somewhere by ‘the seaside’. Few people took holidays outside of the summer weeks apart from visiting relatives.

I remember that for a week before we went away we had to wear our tattiest clothes as all our decent stuff was being washed, dried and ironed by Mum ready to pack. Now we can whizz a few last minute washes through the washer and dryer and not everything needs ironing since the advent of synthetic fabrics.

A bucket, spade and ball were the only toys children needed for a day on the beach. Nobody knew the dangers of sunburn and sun creams were little more than moisturiser. So we burned. Then our mums put calamine lotion on the sore bits.

Traffic jams were a feature of summer travel all over the UK. Thus was before motorways, dual carriageways and bypasses and also, nobody went abroad on holiday. So jams were a regular feature. I remember that some years we set off on holiday at bedtime and while we children slept in the car – we were supposed to but were usually too excited – my dad would drive through the night.

Everybody sent postcards. My mum used to take her address book away on holiday and would spend ages writing cards to all her friends and relatives. I think her list of postcard recipients was probably the same as her Christmas one.

We rarely ate out – money was tight – and when we did it would be lunch in a cafe on a rainy day when it was too wet and cold for a picnic. Although I do remember wet, cold picnics too!

The holiday was planned months in advance. There was no last then. I imagine, I can’t ask them now as they both died a few years ago, that everything was arranged by post. I have no idea how my mum and dad found the caravans, B and B’s (boarding houses as they were known) or holiday rentals we used. We went to locations all over Britain so it certainly wasn’t down to local knowledge. From our home in Wales we had holidays in Scotland, Yorkshire, Dorset, Kent and many other places. In this Internet age it’s really hard for me to picture how my mum and dad arranged the annual family holiday.

The pictures above have all been found on Google Images. They are adverts, mostly for rail travel. I have talked about car journeys but many, many families went on holiday by train too. The posters all advertise places I went to on holiday as a child but I have also chosen them because they are great posters and so evocative of the era.