History of Seaside Holidays

History of Seaside Holidays

We take it for granted that we have a right to time off. Whether it’s Bank Holidays or a week away in the sun. But it wasn’t always like this… Come with us for a little foray into the history of seaside holidays.

The British seaside holiday weekend is an institution as old as the hills. The Bank Holiday Monday dates back to the Bank Holidays Act of 1871.

Did you know? Incredibly, the idea of a ‘Bank Holiday’ was dreamt up by the MP for Maidstone – because he wanted to give bank workers a chance to watch a day’s cricket!

Popular as it is, the majority of holiday makers today would probably spend their bank holidays doing lots of other things as well as watching cricket. One thing is for sure, that we all certainly enjoy time off from the daily grind.

Did you know? That the ‘daily grind’ dates back to times when we all had to monotonously grind enough grain to make our own bread for that day? 

History of Seaside Holidays

Seemingly, it was a woman called Elizabeth Farrow who proclaimed the benefits of the seaside waters when she’d been to South Bay at Scarborough. Way back in 1626 she started the craze for ‘Taking the Waters’ at spa resorts all over the UK.

The Scarborough water was claimed to be a remedy for ‘Hypochondriack Melancholy and Windness’. It could cure epilepsy, apoplexy, vertigo, catalepsy, cleanse the stomach and put an end to scurvy, asthma and black and yellow jaundice!

Maybe we ought to dash out and bottle Fylde Coast sea water. We’d make a fortune if it’s so effective 🙂 – if it weren’t for the health and safety police and the bacteria in the water of course!!

Bathing Machines and Beach Huts

You probably enjoy a paddle, jaunting about in skimpy shorts and flashing the flesh at your choice of Blackpool, Fleetwood or Cleveleys (assuming of course that it’s hot enough). But next time you’re enjoying the weather, spare a thought for the early holiday making women who had to swim just about fully clothed. That was after first being carted into the water in an old fashioned bathing machine.

Beach huts are a descendant of these bathing machines. The first one was built in Bournemouth in 1909 and now even has its own blue plaque.

There are 20,000 of them around the coast of the UK. We’ve got new ones at St Annes, and older pastel painted ones tucked right against the sands at Fleetwood. Plus modern ones built into the Marine Hall Colonnades. Cleveleys did have beach huts but they were removed when the sea wall was rebuilt. Going further back to the 50’s and 60’s you might even remember the bathing station on Cleveleys beach.

If only you could guarantee the weather, what better way could there be to spend an idyllic holiday than sitting in the sun in your seafront shed. Crunch the sand in your sandwiches, and while away the sunny days to finish with warm evenings and one of our speciality sunsets. It’s the stuff that memories are made of on cold, damp winter nights.

Arrival of the Railways

It’s well documented that the railways were the thing that really made the Fylde Coast and Blackpool great.

There’s a corridor from the end of the M55 to the seafront, past Blackpool Football Club to Central Car Park. That tract of land was once the site of the enormous railway lines and platforms. They brought many thousands of passengers to Blackpool in its heyday.

Now it’s where strangers park when they don’t know their way around town. They arrive at the end of the motorway – full of anticipation of a great time ahead. We’ve all done it.

Feel the cool sunshine early in the day when you park your car and the world is just starting to come to life. It gives way to the sun high in the sky and (hopefully) the heat of the day, together with lots of new memories. Amusements, candy floss, donkey rides, shopping and attractions are saved for a later day or year, when the weather, or maybe your life, is cold and grey.

A History of Anticipation

But more than anything, there’s a sense of anticipation that comes with a holiday. Going right back through the history of seaside holidays it’s always been a turn off the real world and turn off your worries.

No matter what the year, people have always anticipated it and planned what to do and what to pack in advance.

Does it really matter if it rains? Not really, especially on this coast and particularly in Blackpool. There’s always something to do that doesn’t rely on the weather. After all, the place has a reputation for being somewhere to go when it’s wet!

Waxing and Waning of Seaside Holidays

In its heyday, you could hardly put a pin down in Blackpool for the crowds. It was always incredibly popular, for many, many years.

Then the jumbo jet and package holiday arrived in the late 70’s and 80’s.

British holiday makers really liked the idea of pretty much guaranteed sunshine, en-suite bathrooms and buffet breakfasts. People went abroad in their droves and seaside towns like Blackpool suffered all around the UK.

As the world’s got smaller,  people have got used to the idea of jetting off to Europe for weekend breaks abroad. Once upon a time they’d have thought no further than the local park and an egg sandwich.

But the Fylde Coast is fighting back! Huge amounts of regeneration work have been carried out and are still underway. New hotels are being built, public facilities improved, new attractions developed.

Increasing numbers of people are choosing to holiday in the UK for many different reasons. Some choose to reduce their carbon footprint, others support the UK economy, some just can’t tolerate the stress of travelling and airports. Whatever the reasons, the Fylde Coast is as popular as ever and ready for another chapter in the history of seaside holidays!

While you’re here…

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