We all take it for granted every year – a short working week and a long weekend – and hopefully some sunshine to boot. Before you come to the Fylde Coast for your Bank Holiday weekend, come with us for a little ramble round the British seaside and a bit of its past.
In recent years people have got used to the idea of jetting off to Europe for weekend breaks abroad, when once they’d have thought no further than the local park and an egg sandwich. The British seaside Bank Holiday weekend is an institution as old as the hills – it actually dates back to the Bank Holidays Act of 1871 which incredibly was dreamt up by the MP for Maidstone because he wanted to give bank workers a chance to watch a day’s cricket!
I can’t imagine so many holiday makers would want to spend their bank holiday in 2012 watching cricket (I certainly wouldn’t), or in fact that there will even be any to watch, but we all certainly enjoy a day off from the normal grind. Some people catch up on their household jobs and spend the day in the garden, doing DIY and decorating, while others flock to the coast, especially if the weather is nice. The beauty of being lucky enough to live on the Fylde Coast is, of course, that you can enjoy all the fun of the seaside without the pain of the traffic jams that others who aren’t so lucky have to endure.
According to this weekend’s Telegraph, it was a woman called Elizabeth Farrow who proclaimed the benefits of the seaside waters when she’d been to Scarborough’s South Bay, and in 1626 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’, and 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 the Fylde Coast sea water – we’d make a fortune if it’s so effective – of course if it weren’t for the health and safety police.
When you’re having a paddle, jaunting about in skimpy shorts and flashing the flesh at your choice of Blackpool, Fleetwood or Cleveleys this weekend (assuming of course that it’s hot enough), spare a thought for the early holiday making women who had to swim just about fully clothed, after being carted into the water in the old fashioned bathing machines. 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, with new ones being built locally at St Annes with an enormous price tag, and original pastel painted ones tucked right against the sands at Fleetwood. 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, with sand in your sandwiches, and whiling away the days to a warm evening and one of our speciality sunsets. It’s the stuff that memories are made of on cold, damp winter nights.
It’s well documented that the railways were the thing that really made Blackpool great. Bonny Street Market and the bypass road leading to it past the front of Blackpool Football Club was where the railway lines brought thousands of passengers to Blackpool in its heyday, and now it’s where strangers who don’t know the more hidden car parks arrive from the end of the motorway – full of anticipation of a great weekend and day ahead. We’ve all done it, the cool sunshine early in the day when you park your car and the world is just starting to come to life, that gives way to the sun high in the sky and (hopefully) the heat of the day and memories of amusements, candy floss, donkey rides, shopping and attractions to save for a later day or year, when the weather, or maybe your life, is cold and grey.
But more than anything, there’s a sense of anticipation that comes with a Bank Holiday – it’s a short enough period of time to turn off the phone and turn off your worries. Anticipate it for the previous week and plan what you want to do. Does it really matter if it rains? Not really, especially on this coast and particularly in Blackpool you’ll always find something to do that doesn’t rely on the weather – after all, the place has built a reputation for being somewhere to go when it’s wet!
Whatever you do this August Bank Holiday make sure that you have a good time, and if you do, feel free to tell us about it! You can share your memories and photos on Facebook, or email your photos and comments to us at jane@theRabbitPatch.co.uk.
Blackpool Promenade in August
Fleetwood Beach Huts