We built sandcastles, got buried in the sand, and collected crabs – we took them back to the cottage but they always died.
VODA Day at the Seaside project 2012
Interviewee: Judy Holmes, born Gateshead 1932
I lived in Gateshead and every summer my parents together with my mother’s twin sister and her husband would rent a cottage for a month in Cullercoats. My father and uncle used to travel every day to Newcastle to work while the mums (my aunt had three boys) stayed in Cullercoats. I can’t remember the weather ever being bad and we spent most of the day on the beach I was a very keen swimmer. I used to swim a lot in the sea.
I was an only child, so it was nice to spend time with my three boy cousins on the beach. To get to Cullercoats we had to get the tram from Gateshead to Newcastle then get the electric train to Cullercoats. The cottage was very near to the beach, so we never ate on the sands, we always had our meals in the cottage. This was before the war, then, when the war came along it changed everyone’s life completely. There were no more holidays till after the war ended. After the war, we moved to Whitley Bay. My father had always wanted to live at the coast but he worked for Gateshead Council and in those days if you worked for the council you had to live in the borough.
We built sandcastles, got buried in the sand, and collected crabs – we took them back to the cottage but they always died. We wore knitted swimming costumes they were uncomfortable and stretched down to your knees when you went into the water; mine had a belt to hold it up. I remember I had a swimming hat made from old parachute material – it was waterproof; I don’t know where my mother got it from.
The beach was very busy. People didn’t go abroad in those days. My friends thought I was very lucky to spend a whole summer at the seaside; some of them never had a holiday. I don’t think things had changed that much when I took my own child to the beach in her pram; my husband and I took turns to go in for a swim while the other watched the baby.