Friday, 6 January 2012

A Day Out to the Sea Side (1947)

As kids, one of the ways to get us to go to Sunday school was to put on a trip to a pantomime around Christmas time or a trip to the seaside, usually New Brighton, that's just along the north coast of Wales. This was chosen because it is the nearest coastal destination from where we live.
So every Sunday that we attended Sunday school we had a stamp stuck in a book, and unless we had all the stamps over the six month period, we could not go; the same went for the pantomime.
At the age of five or six or seven nothing was more important than going on a luxurious coach, a twenty nine seater, where the driver sat in the same compartment as the passengers, where we could see how he drove the bus, and watch all the controls he used, watch him change gear, and how the Bedford petrol engine accelerated, how the gear box in third gear had that distinctive whine.

 We would get off the coach at the halfway mark and marvel at how warm the huge tyres were, and were given time to "water the horses" before climbing aboard again.

At certain points as we neared our destination we were told to see who could see the sea first, then a huge cheer would go up, then out of sight again for a while then cheer again..
It took best part of three hours to make the seventy five miles journey, there was no such thing as motorways back then, and dual carriageways were very few and far between. I remember all the heavy goods vehicles had a 20mph sign on the rear end, and that was their limit when loaded, and often it was these H G V's that hampered the progress of other road users.

Eventually we all got off the coach with our mothers and headed for the beach, those that had been before knew what the routine was, and promptly stripped off and into swimming trunks and off into the edge of the sea.
Mothers of coarse had come well prepared with a huge bag with towels and sandwiches and pop and all spread out a towel to sit on to watch the kids did not get washed away. However this is a shortened version of how the day usually went.

A Day Out to the Sea Side

As kids we went to Sunday school, every week the same,
Had a stamp stuck in a book, for religion is why we came,
Come the summer they booked a coach, an outing to the seaside,
Always was New Brighton, pent up, a good three hours ride.

Started early from the village, pee stop on the way,
Glimpse the sea from way back far, us kids we shout hooray,
Every glimpse from way back far, loud cheer us kids we clapped,
Couldn't wait to hit the beach, in that bus we were trapped.

Stripped off behind a towel, that our Mothers held,
Into trunks and off down the beach, into the sea we yelled,
With bucket n' spades, built a castle, with flag on the top.
Dug a moat all around it, filled with buckets of water we slopped.

Then a strong wave came, filled it faster than it oughta,
Too much now it over flowed, filled it up with sea water,
Build a dam to hold it back, and faster still we dug,
Now we know the power of the sea, to hold it back, silly mugs.

Mother spread a towel out, to have a picnic on the sands,
Sandwiches in door steps, large bites we took with gritty hands,
Cake as well she had made, then washed it down with Corona pop,
So tiring was that long day out, slept all way home without a stop.


Surprising as it may be, there were no end of the older generation in the village back then who had never seen the sea, I know my parents had been in their younger days on a coach trip to the sea in what they then called a Charabang, the forerunner to today's coaches, it was open sided and had wooden slatted seats the stretch right across the width of the vehicle and a running board / step along each side to let people get on and off.

It had blow up tyres and wooden spoke wheels carrying about twenty five passengers, these were sheltered by a full length canopy that covered the driver as well.
In the 1950's father bought a bit bigger car that would accommodate all six of us, plus luggage, and for a few years we all went on holiday together to the sea side.

When us oldest two left school, we were left "home alone" so to speak, to cook for our selves and do our regular jobs on the farm. Each morning mothers regular helper would call for an hour and do our washing up, and upon checking in the pantry she found fly blown bacon, bacon that should have been put in the pantry safe, (safe in this case is a fine wire mesh store cupboard that was designed to keep flies off food but let it be ventilated at the same time, before the refrigerator had been invented).
My brother and I had just scraped off the yellow flies eggs and dropped in the fry pan, waste not want not, a good hot frizzle in the pan would soon make it safe to eat.
Mother always looked forward to going on holiday, father was a bit more reluctant, but mother had to admit the she always looked forward even more to getting back again to her own home and her own bed.

The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway.
Henry Boye


  1. No trouble believing that. There are still a few old timers around here and up home that have never been away from the county they were born in, even for a day.

    Distances are a little different on this side of the pond. A trip to the seaside is nearer to 400 miles from where we live now and closer to 800 from where I grew up.

  2. New Brighton is just along the North Wales coast from Liverplool and from here its just over 70 miles. like you say distances are very short compared to US.
    Back then with no motorways or dual carrageways it took two and half hours each way, I could do it on my TRACTOR in that time now