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Wednesday 19 June 2019

Great Yarmouth, June 1960

Early nights, top entertainment and lots of healthy fresh air: that’s what you got with seaside holidays in the nineteen-fifties.

As it’s the holiday season (so I might go quiet for a while), here is a posthumous post from a guest contributor – my dad – written shortly after a week’s holiday exactly fifty-nine years ago in a boarding house at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

We were taken by car on the Sunday morning (he would have been working on the Saturday) and returned by train the following Saturday. Below, I am t–, my mother is M– and my brother who was then aged 4 is mj.
Great Yarmouth circa 1960

Notes On a Seaside Holiday.
YARMOUTH June 19th to June 25th 1960

Sunday: Mr. Mapplebeck of Rawcliffe took us by car. We were away from the front door by 7.55 a.m., a pleasant but fast ride; mj was sick twice on the journey. We were ready for lunch in the digs when the dinner gong went at 1 p.m. Beach in the afternoon, then a walk round a fun fair in the evening. Bed 8 o’clock.

Monday morning; lovely walk and bus to town, sea trip from the River Yare. Beach in the afternoon, show (Charlie Drake) in the evening. Later drink by myself in the pub, reflected on the atmosphere of seaside pubs.

Great Yarmouth: Norwich Belle 1960
mj, dad, M- and t- on board the Norwich Belle at Great Yarmouth.
Date and time on the back: Monday 20th June 1960, 10.15 a.m. 

Tuesday: all down to the station for details of the return journey, followed by lovely Broads cruise to Reedham. Afternoon on beach, evening shopgazing with M– and boys. Reflected we do not often have an opportunity for a family loiter. Returned 8 p.m. continued reading Richard Church’s “Golden Sovereign”, bed 10 p.m.

Wednesday: mj slept while 10 a.m. t– rowing by himself on the boating pool, I enjoying reading the Daily Telegraph, later t–, mj and I sea trip in Filey type cobble. Beach in the afternoon, open air type theatre entertainment in the evening very mediocre, took mj back to digs and he was ready for bed before the finish, all in bed by 10 p.m.

Great Yarmouth boating lake

Thursday: t– on the rowing pool, mj in a pedal car, then all into town for a little present shopping. Once again I thought how privileged we were being able to stroll about together. Beach in the afternoon, in the evening M– took t– to the Charlie Chester show. I strolled mj round the front, he had an ice cream cornet, we walked round the pin table alleys and I considered the tastes of the contemporary world, but then everybody can’t go abroad. Then mj had another ride in a pedal car, mj a little boy of 4 years old going round and round, I’ll keep that memory, they soon grow from one stage to another. The different phases are very short. We went back to the boarding house and I put mj to bed.

Great Yarmouth 1950s tourism video
One of several 1950/60s Yarmouth videos on YouTube - click to play

Friday, we all went for a walk in the morning, children went in the fun fair cars. I was a little apprehensive the cash was getting a bit short by now. Beach in the afternoon, both the boys playing and digging well, I bought a packet of paper flags. In the evening M– took the children for a walk, I gave them 4/6d. to spend while I went to the pictures.

Saturday. The taxi picked us up as arranged, we left Yarmouth at 10.10 a.m. a little disconcerted to find there was no restaurant or buffet car on the train. M– dashed off the train at March station and procured three sandwiches, two small packets of biscuits and a couple of cartons of orange juice for the noble sum of 8/-. Anyhow after that mj fell asleep, we had to awaken him to change trains at Doncaster, we arrived in Goole about 4.45 p.m. and were fortunate in getting a taxi home. Lovely. We had a very good week for weather and the following week it broke, so we were very lucky.

Thursday afternoon July 7th 1960

Norwich Belle, Great Yarmouth, around 1960
The Norwich Belle sailed out of Great Yarmouth until around 1981

The above images are so widespread on the internet one can only assume they are now free of copyright restrictions.


  1. Interesting to read your father's notes about this holiday! Do you personally remember it?

    1. I have impressions of the car we went in, walking along the promenade, the boating lake, the layout of the town, being on the beach, the shows we saw and the train home when I was particularly worried by the sandwiches incident at March station.

  2. My Dad had a car in 1960, so we always drove there and back on holiday. Most years, we stayed with a relative (Dad's cousin) in Cornwall, for two weeks. He was an elderly bachelor who had served in the RFC during WW1. I loved to listen to his stories.
    There were no shows or rides to go on, and we made our own entertainment on the beach. The high-spot of the holiday was always fish and chips one night, and a cream tea before we came home. My Mum would bring a tin of clotted cream back, so we could replicate the experience in London.
    Love those memories of a much simpler life.
    Best wishes, Pete. (Beetleypete)

    1. peteypops44 :) In the years before we usually went to the Yorkshire coast on the bus or train. Afterwards we hired cars and drove what seemed long distances to Kent and Hampshire. Eventually we got our own car and managed further afield, such as Aberdeen and Devon. Never went abroad. Simple times. Did you ever bring back kippers or bloaters - or send them through the post? I feel a new post coming on.

  3. I enjoyed that read very much. Your father sounds like he was a reflective and thoughtful person. I also very much liked his use of 'digs'. I say it from time to time myself, but notice that some folk do not know what I am talking about!

    1. Hadn't thought about that until you pointed it out because I sometimes use it too, meaning temporary accommodation. Have had to look it up - late 19th century: short for diggings, used in the same sense, probably referring to the land where a farmer digs, i.e. works and, by extension, lives. I've heard entertainers who appeared in seaside shows referring to staying in digs.

  4. 4/6 was quite a lot to hand over while he went to the pictures. We probably passed you on the seafront, family of 6 walking the other way. Nice read, thank you.

    1. I would have been too shy to say hello even if I'd known, but I've often wondered about who we walk past at the seaside, or in a busy city, or particularly who we drive past on motorway journeys.


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