Memories of the British Seaside
Thank you for submitting your memories, which so far include:
Norfolk in the 40s
Dovercourt, Essex in the 40s
Margate in the 50s
Herne Bay in the 50s
Jaywick Sands in the 50s
Norfolk in the 70s
Herne Bay in the 70s
Hayling Island in the 70s
Butlin's at Minehead in the 70s
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Hemsby in Norfolk in the 1940s
During the late 1940s and early 1950s my mother, father, sister and myself always went to Hemsby in Norfolk for our holidays. We stayed in a wooden bungalow facing the bracing air of the North Sea, as the bungalow was perched on a sand dune right in front of the beach. After the long war years it was paradise to me. The cooking was done by calor gas and the lavatory was an Elsan chemical closet which was emptied by an ancient man who we called 'Dan, Dan the lavatory man'. It was not until many years later that I found out that he buried his collection under the sand on the dunes!
These were happy days, rationing was still in force but as we were quite poor, and could not afford luxuries anyway, this did not bother us. It never seemed to rain and I always managed to find a local boyfriend for the two week holiday.
Dovercourt, Essex in the 1940s
About the year 1947 my parents, sister and I went on our first holiday to Dovercourt. We stopped with a couple called Mr and Mrs Goode. He was a retired Trinity House man and he used to tell me all about the ships coming into Harwich Harbour, a person I will not forget.
My parents liked winkles. Mr Goode told them to get the children to collect the winkles from the beach in the sand buckets and he would cook them. This he duly did and the next day we all had a picnic on the beach with the cooked winkles, very nice. I remember someone calling to my father that you should cook them first - he must have thought we were getting them straight from the beach!
Also, I remember something called the British Restaurants. This was a form of canteen where people could eat cheaply. I presume this was because rationing was still on.
Margate in the 1950s
We always went on holiday to Margate where both my Grandparents and Uncle and Aunt had boarding houses. We drove down in an old Morris 8 with a trunk strapped on the back. The first glimpse of the sea was hugely exciting, followed closely by spotting Grandad who would be in his usual place on the benches round the Clocktower.
The house had 4 floors with a big central staircase. We were always on the first floor in the family room. A big adventure for my brother and I was to steal up to the upper floors (which was forbidden) and run away if one of the doors opened. I remember the embarrassment of queuing for the bathroom and toilet. My Uncle sounded a gong to get everyone down to the dining room. It was a large room where stilted conversation in low tones prevailed at strictly adhered to mealtimes. We children had to "behave" and "eat-up properly". My Uncle was a bit of a clown. He used to serve the meals and tried to lighten the atmosphere in the dining room with jokes and pranks. In the evenings he sometimes organized a whist drive or did magic tricks, but what was funny to my Brother and me was Dad and Uncle in fits of giggles having had a bit too much to drink, but I think they were just doing their best really to keep the party going by playing the fool. Aunt and Uncle definitely tried to create a house party atmosphere. I think my Mum helped to wash up if Auntie was shorthanded.
We played all day on the beach. It was clear that staying in the bedroom was not on even if the weather was bad. However, we could take refuge at my Granny's down the road. Sometimes we went to "Dreamland" where my Grandad held sway in the cubicle where you went to get change for the machines etc. He was a grumpy old man who had been badly gassed in WW1. We would go for walks along the pier - it might even have had a train to the end if I remember correctly. There was a stuffed lion at the entrance to the pier that you could have you picture taken on. I was terrified of it and cried when the photo was taken. The gift shops and cafés all along the "front" were a revelation after the rigours of rationing, but my Mum thought they were tacky. At the end of the holiday all the guests gathered on the steps of the boarding house (always referred to as a guesthouse by my Aunt!) for a group photo before they went off home.
Herne Bay in the 1950s
I am writing this as I see someone has written about how he enjoyed his visit to my old home 'The Miramar hotel' in Beltinge, a holiday for me from 1954-1969. It was such a enjoyable family run hotel. The staff all joined in the fun and even some of the guests, who came to stay every year, enjoyed helping out. For my brother and myself it was a great life. I can remember lying on the flat roof of the dinning room with catapults aiming just near to where the old World War 1 pensioners sat in their deck chairs while reading their newspapers. The expression on their faces when they heard a small stone drop near to them was a great laugh for us young kids.
More from Herne Bay in the 1950s
That's where, as visitors from Ireland, we had our honeymoon back in 1955. We naturally enjoyed our stay at the quiet, cosy and comfortable Miramar Hotel on Reculver Road, East Beltinge (still have their postcard). There was a minor crisis when we saw that our room had twin beds (we should have warned them!) but it was soon sorted... and gave us many laughs later. Even still, in nostalgic mood, we occasionally start breakfast with the morning greeting of the then young waiter: "Tea and toast?" We would lie on the grass on the hill overlooking the pebbly beach to marvel at the USAF B-52's (?) skimming overhead. 'Twould be nice to make it back (now from the U.S.) to the Miramar for our 50th, if it's still there.............
Joe and Margaret O'Brien
Miramar Hotel message for Joe and Margaret O'Brien from Catherine Holman
Just in case you read your message again. I thought you would be interested to know that I visited my mother today who mentioned that she has the story in her memoires about that awful mix up we gave you on the day of your honeymoon at my father's hotel!
We have had so many memories about the Miramar in Herne Bay that we thought we ought to find out if it was still there. The good new is it is - but it has been converted to an old peoples' home.
Jaywick Sands - 1952 to 1954
We would set off on our holidays after Dad finished work Saturday lunchtime. We were always rushing to make sure we didn't miss the coach from Victoria as we never had a car. There would be all the bags plus the dog, who hated travel, and we would depart for Jaywick. It was always dark by the time we got there as there were no street lights in or around Jaywick. The first year we stayed in Riley Avenue this was up the unsanitized end no loos, no running water, no electricity. The loo was emptied every morning by a man in a cream coloured van, nicknamed the Wallasey man by us, just as we were having breakfast. There were no hotels in Jaywick only chalets and bungalows. On a recent visit to Clacton we walked into Jaywick and it hadn't changed much at all. The bungalow in Sea Rosemary Way still looked as I remembered it. Further along the prom from us was a skating rink, and we would think we were the bees knees strutting our stuff with old skates fixed to the bottom of our plimsolls.
The second year we went we were a bit posher as we stayed in Sea Rosemary Way, flush loo the lot. A friend, Ann Mole, came with us that year, and although we had no money we had a wonderful time. We helped or hindered the donkey man every day. Ooh, I bet he was glad when we went home. We would walk along the front into Clacton and visit Butlin's (now long gone) and use all the rides there, feeling sick after too many rides on the big dipper, and going on a thing called the Rotar which spun you around so fast in this drum type thing that the floor receded and you were stuck halfway up. Does any one else remember this? I don't think we had much to spend but we had a wonderful time.
Norfolk in the 1970s
On Friday evening, Dad had just ‘knocked off’ from his work at the cycle factory, which would now remain closed for maintenance for the next three weeks. As my ten-year old animated figure charged round the living room, Mum was busy packing suitcases and boxes, to be loaded into the Triumph that night ready for an early start in the morning. Last year I had annoyed my highly irritable Dad by removing the chrome horn assembly from the car steering wheel. ‘You idiot! How we supposed to go on holiday with this all hanging off?’ he cried, and with a belt round the head I was sent inside to help with the packing.
This year however I was better behaved and sent to bed at 7, ready for the alarm to wake us at 4am. I had trouble sleeping with the birdsong and the sun streaming in through the windows, and kept looking at the wall chart I had made with all the dates leading up to the holiday struck through in green biro! I could hear Mum and Dad laughing and drinking downstairs, and by the time they came to bed I was long gone.
It was an unearthly hour when Mum's voice came, shrill and insistent, up the stairs. She was already crushing the bitter tasting Qwells travel-sickness tablets in jam, ready for me to take. Rubbing sleep from sore tired eyes, I downed the foul mixture with narrowed eyes, and grabbed the fishing tackle ready to jam into the boot. A quilt had been laid down on the leather back seat for me to sleep on during the journey, and we soon sped past Dad's factory, silent now with all its generators idle, and off through Lincolnshire towards the Norfolk Broads. Dad managed to avoid last year's trick of going the wrong way up a slip road towards oncoming traffic, and I could hear Mum map reading while I was in a half asleep, occasionally passing out the Mint Imperials and potted beef sandwiches from a foil wrapper.
What seemed like an eternity later - and the crunch of the gravel signalled the Potter Heigham car park at the back of Latham's Stores. Since the chalet-style bungalows were quite a way down a riverside path, we always had breakfast first at the Broadshaven Hotel to sustain our strength. After we had eaten, we collected the chalet keys from a hut nearby, manned by an old man called Tom Holt, who had a thumb missing, smoked Park Drives and hired out boats for a meagre living. The paths to the chalets had dykes next to them, to provide water for the fields. Last year I had kicked my football over the small wall, and Dad had vaulted over using an oar jammed into the mud, to swing over on. Uncle Alf tried it, on another occasion, and the pole stuck stiffly upright in the dyke, his skinny frame sliding down the oar, resulting in a knee-deep mud bath for the poor soul!
It took several trips to the car and back to unload the boot, but by mid morning we were all unpacked, and Mum was rolling out pastry with an empty milk bottle, for the first of many tasty home-made meat pies.
Fishing by the riverbank was the ideal pursuit for Dad, cooped up in the factory all day, and I woke one morning to his hysterical laughter. The man in the bungalow opposite had decided to go night fishing for eels, and so had wrapped up warm in several sweaters, anorak and over-trousers. Unfortunately, he had fallen asleep, and all I could hear from my bed was Dad saying ‘look at his face, look at his face’. It was now 10am the next day and brilliant sunshine. Old ‘Redface’ opposite was throwing back the hood on his anorak, sweltering and dripping wet, trying to discard clothes as quickly as possible. Women were waving from boats passing by, wearing just bikinis, laughing at this beetroot visaged Michelin Man!
My holiday world however, mainly consisted of the amusement arcade, fish and chip shop, and reading comics in the car while Mum and Dad went for a drink. My yellow bath time transistor radio was never far away though, belting out Gary Glitter, Sweet and Slade through its tinny speaker, as I lay waiting for the next fish to come up with a flash of the luminous yellow float, as I lay on tickly grass and gazed at the cloud fluff balls passing over, with another school term so near yet so far away.
Herne Bay in the 1970s
I remember going to Herne Bay, Kent for two weeks in the Summer of 1977. There was me and my parents and my two sisters in a mobile home. The site we stayed on was called Glencourt and to me it was paradise! It had a small general stores called the Clifftop Stores which sold groceries, but more importantly to me, things like buckets and spades, beach balls, and being Silver Jubilee Year, red, white and blue ice lollies!! During the day we would spend most of it playing on the beach (making sandcastles or exploring the rock pools). Come evening because the site was small and didn't have a bar or social club, we would walk along the cliff tops to the campsite at Reculver and enjoy the amusements and club on offer there, or we would take the shorter walk to the Miramar Pub on the cliff top overlooking the sea, where my Mum and Dad would sit inside and have a couple of drinks, and me and my sisters would be in the pub garden with some bottles of coke and some crisps. I also remember that the shop on the campsite had trampolines which for 10p you could have 5 minutes of jumping time. Very happy memories!!
Hayling Island in the 1970s
Being a bad traveller and often feeling sick on the journey there. The excitement, declaring 'We can see the sea' as we approached our resort.
Hayling Island memories
* wading in the water
* the caravans around
Butlin's, Minehead - 1970s
What great times we had there. I remember the little chalets we had, with the loos and baths in a separate block! Radio Butlins would wake you up in the morning ready to go the dining hall. We were in Gloucester House, my dad was on the house committee. I remember the monorail, which would stop over the swimming pool, the chair lifts that were really high. The Butlin's Beaver club (I was a member) with all your redcoat aunties and uncles who would take you off to be pirates for the day, or whatever activity was going on. At the end of the week there would be a sports day, with all the dads taking part. Our parents would only see us at mealtimes, as it was perfectly safe then to go off and do your own thing with your brothers and sisters. And yes, there were knobbly knees and glamorous granny competitions. Happy days!
Also from Butlin's in the 70s ...
We went to Minehead many times. As a family of six, my parents told me it was economical. I remember the dining hall, where we had cornflakes every morning. I remember my Mum telling us to eat as much as we could in the dining hall as we hadn't budgeted for extra meals and snacks! So we had to eat it whether we liked it or not. We always had lots to choose from and as children, felt very safe to wander freely around the chalets while Mum and Dad read the newspapers or had a cup of tea. There were always competitions to enter, and donkey derbys. I can even remember the smell of the ballroom, my Dad's Double Diamond beer and our Coca Cola in the original bottles with lots of dancing and fun. I took my own children about four years ago but was disappointed, too many computerised games, arcades, not enough physical games and joining in; and I certainly couldn't let my children out of my sight. That's a shame.
The British seaside holiday