I remember once my sister got lost and my father went to find her she came back but he didn’t so we went to find him and he was in front of the punch and Judy watching the show.
Day at the Seaside project, August 2012
Interviewee: Joyce Haley, born Wallsend, 1933
We went to the beach as often as we could during the summer holidays, because during the war the beaches were sealed off with barbed wire from when I was six years old until I was ten years old, but when they opened we went a lot. We used to go with family, friends and neighbours, It was sometimes difficult to get to the beach as the busses and trains were crowded but we had a meeting place where we would meet everybody.
We brought everything with us, change of clothing, towels, beach stuff and food. We took sandwiches – there wasn’t a lot of choice because things were rationed then. we had egg and tomato sandwiches (they don’t taste the same without the sand) also homemade stuff like scones. There was a beach hut that sold things like crisps and sweets but we never bought anything; we took a tea-pot and tea and you could get hot water to make it for a few coppers but you had to queue for it.
If we got to the beach early before it got crowded, we could play rounders or cricket, or we waited till later about tea time when people started to leave. We played in the sand and in the rock pools. We collected seaweed and shells; sometimes we went on the donkeys. Our special spot on the beach was the right side of the Plaza. So if you were in the sea and couldn’t see where the family was you just headed for that spot.
I remember once my sister got lost and my father went to find her. She came back but he didn’t, so we went to find him and he was in front of the Punch and Judy watching the show.
I remember I’m not sure if it was Tynemouth or Whitley Bay but there were rowing boats you could go out in if you were brave enough. There were donkeys on the beach; I always seemed to get the smallest one to ride even though I was really well built. The weather always seemed to be sunny then, but things are never exactly the same as you remember them.
We took buckets and spades as well as cricket stumps and balls and tennis racquets and rounders bats. The men would play with us, then about lunch time they all disappeared. It was later I found out that they went to the pub and all the mothers were left sitting in the deck chairs looking after the children.
These days it is much easier to get around but in those days transport was limited – so was money. So you tended to do things that didn’t cost a lot of money. Going to the beach only cost the bus fare and an ice cream.
Occasionally, you would get one turn on the roundabout. If we went to the Spanish City we were told how many rides we could have and if we cried for more we were just taken out.
Sometimes we went to Cullercoats and went on the pier. Someone always shouted, warning us not to go too far and to keep an eye on the tide coming in. We also went to Tynemouth pool. I never liked it there – it was ok till you came out and then it was always too cold.
At the end of the war there was a place called British Restaurant, or something like that, where you could get food. We had whale meat there once; we didn’t go back. It was the only place where you could go and you didn’t need a ration book.
Punch and Judy Show
Photograph by Dave Morton (flickr)