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Whitley Bay

My cousins had knitted bathing costumes. When they came out of the water the legs of their costumes reached below their knees.


Photograph of sitting on a car, 1937

Sitting on a car, 1937

When I was a child we lived in Ashington and my first recollection of Whitley Bay is as the destination of our Sunday school trip. It was quite an event as we travelled by train.

I remember the walk to the beach and the shops with colourful buckets, spades and beach balls hanging outside. We went straight to the beach. To paddle was a must but being small (I was four or five) I could not keep up when the older children ran out of the water. Result? I wandered off and was completely lost. I remember the panic as I stumbled along the beach looking for my mother through tear-filled eyes. I met two boys who asked me what was wrong, and they were taking me to the ‘lost children’ tent when we were spotted by one of the search party from the trip. I was never lost again.

Photograph of children on Whitley Bay beach, 1935

Whitley Bay beach, 1935

My mother would not have lunch on the beach, and we used to go to a café on the prom. It had long tables and forms outside. There they sold hot water to make tea. After lunch, we would walk along the front to the paddling pool where we spent the afternoon and had tea. The magic was kept until last, the Spanish City. We went there before leaving for home. I was not an adventurous child, so I never savoured the delights of the big drum or the slide into the bowl, but I loved the hobby horses and the sideshows.

Whenever we had a day out it was almost always to Whitley Bay although our mode of transport changed when Dad bought a car. Parking was not a problem in those days. Driving along The Links I can remember saying, “I am going to live here when I grow up, in one of those white houses right in front of the sea.”

Photograph of children in paddling pool, 1952

Paddling pool, 1952

My cousins sometimes came with us and they had knitted bathing costumes. When they came out of the water the legs of their costumes reached below their knees. I was pleased I did not have to wear one, for I would never have gone in the water. The trips all stopped in 1939 when war was declared.

After the war was over I married and moved to Scotland. On our yearly visit to the North East, Whitley Bay was the favourite destination of my children. I found myself following my mother’s routine, although I was not averse to eating on the beach. My young daughters loved the paddling pool and Spanish City was always kept until last. My children were more adventurous than me and loved to ride on everything.

Photograph of Merry-Go-Round, Spanish City, 1959

Merry-Go-Round, Spanish City, 1959

Sadly the magic of the Spanish City is no more. This was a great disappointment to my granddaughter on her yearly visit from Bahrain. Still, she met friends from her school at the leisure pool. Small world!

I moved to Whitley Bay some years ago, but although I did not move into the dream house of my childhood I can see the sea from my window.



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