Families gave up their comfortable beds, consigning themselves to camp beds and put you ups in the back kitchen.
During the 1950s we as children looked forward with eager anticipation to the annual influx of summer visitors, during July, from Glasgow and Edinburgh. The Glasgow people always appeared to us to be friendlier more jovial than the quieter more refined people of Edinburgh, but we loved them all.
During June our parents who owned their own newspaper business set about ordering extra paper-backed books, story and colouring books, packets of marbles for boys, chucks for girls should the weather turn inclement. Not forgetting, of course, the tin spades and pails for the fine weather.
The neighbourhood around us was also hit by a huge tidal wave of activity as prospective landladies threw open the windows of their homes as they scrubbed cleaned and polished. Families gave up their normal routine and comfortable beds consigning themselves to camp beds and put-you-ups in the back kitchen or even in some cases the garden shed.
Then the great day would arrive with the first trains pulling into Monkseaton Station, Whitley Bay or Cullercoats at around lunchtime on Saturday. The local boys would be up early and at their respective stations in good time, bogie carts at the ready. (Bogie carts were usually made up of an old set of pram wheels, any old timber, and generally a rope or string handle).
As the first visitors disembarked the boys would step forward and offer to take the luggage ‘on board’ and lead the visitors to their lodgings. If they were lucky, they were given a sixpence or even a shilling for their trouble. I believe quite a profit could be made if the first visitors lodgings weren’t far away and one could hasten back to the station for a second or third party.
Church and Sunday school services were always busier and more interesting as everyone tried to make the visitors feel welcome. Families mainly went out together and if we local youngsters were lucky enough, we were sometimes included in the outings to the beach.
On warm summer evenings, swimsuits and towels would be put out to dry on bedrooms sills. The seafront, during evenings after high tea or supper, would see crowds of people enjoying a stroll along the promenades, the air thick with Glaswegian and Edinburgh accents. We used to feel sorry for people if it rained, as there wasn’t a lot for them to do.
Quietness and normality tinged with a little sadness returned when the visitors had gone. Memories were shared however as landladies shopped and paid bills and could be heard speaking of this family or that couple who had shared their family life for a while. It was hard work and hectic for those few weeks but mainly the memories were happy as we all looked forward to the following summer.