Going on Holiday Seemed So Much Simpler Then…

Peter Pitt, his mother and an uncle on holiday in the 1930s.

Peter Pitt, his mother and an uncle on holiday in the 1930s.

You put your luggage into the car boot then, at the airport, transfer it on to a trolley. At your destination you grab your bags from the carousel and load it on to another trolley. You then push it out of the airport building to a taxi, or coach, that will take you to your hotel. When you get there, if you’re unlucky, you might have to carry your luggage into the hotel – even, perhaps, up to your room.

All this luggage-handling didn’t bother my parents in the 1930s. When we went on holiday then, our luggage preceded us. We had a trunk more than three feet long into which my mother would pack clothes for the three of us to cover all weather eventualities.

Locked and tied around with a rope, the trunk would then await the carrier, usually Carter Patterson. They could be contacted at local shops, or if you displayed a card with letters ‘CP’ in your front window, a passing van would call. The next time you saw the trunk was at your boarding house. Just occasionally things would go wrong. On one holiday we arrived at the boarding house on a Saturday to find that the trunk hadn’t come. My father was irate, and went back to railway station to complain. However, it was delivered on the Monday and at last we were able to change our clothes.

Holiday destinations were Clacton-on-Sea, Cliftonville and many South Coast resorts. My main interest was the beach where, unpleasant outcome of this was that, because of my fair skin, I was subject to sunburn. Whether there weren’t as many sun-block lotions available in those days or my mother just didn’t know about them, I cannot say. What I do remember is how painful my legs and shoulders used to get, and the treatment

of dabbing calamine lotion on them to relieve the burning.

I can’t remember much about the boarding houses where we stayed, or the food they provided, but I do recall that the arrangement at some of them was for the boarders to supply the fish and meat of the main meal of the day. At one establishment, the same hard rock cakes seemed to be dished up at every meal. I remember this as we used to joke about

them for years afterwards.

The only holiday address I remember staying at was in Dundonald Drive, Leigh-on-Sea. Perhaps the reason for being able to recall this is that we spent two holidays there, and my parents became quite friendly with the landlady, a Mrs Long. Sometimes, along with her son Paul, who was around my age, she would come down on the beach with us.

On the journey from Dundonald Drive to the beach we had to pass Chadwell Station where, outside on the pavement, was a street photographer. He had one of those old, wooden movie cameras on a tripod, and turned a handle to take the still photograph. My parents bought a picture of us walking along the road from him, but he still filmed us every time we passed him.

Every seaside resort had a bandstand around which parents loved to sit and listen, but I wasn’t so keen. As far as I was concerned we were using up good beach time. Today, however, I feel differently and love to sit and listen to the band. Alas, they aren’t as many military bands around as there were in those days.

After our annual fortnight’s holiday was over clothes, buckets and spades were packed away in the trunk and we travelled home by train unencumbered by luggage. A few days after arriving home, the trunk would be delivered to our doorstep.

Travelling seemed so much simpler then.

Peter Pitt