Workshop 2: Recording Seaside Memories Project

Stafford Widows' Association : Distribution Workshop 5th June 2010

CLICK HERE for a PDF of the Seaside Memories Book or read it here

Open publication - Free publishing - More holidays

Conservatory: Shrewsbury Arms Stafford

Contributors hearing and seeing their stories in print for the first time.

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And this is how it all started . . .

Stafford Widows' Association - Trinity Church Hall, Stafford,

7th March 2009.

To listen to our stories click here 

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Beryl Talbot

Stafford Association of Widows

In 1948, when I was 15, I went camping for a week with the Girl Guides. We went to Mundesley-on-Sea on the north Norfolk coast. We teamed up with the Baptist Guides so about 36 of us caught the train from Stafford to Norwich. A local train took us on to Mundesley-on-Sea and then we walked from the station to the field where we were camping.

The tents were already up when we arrived. They were rather big tents; each big enough for six girls. We had to put all our bags and cases in our tents but not before we’d knocked four pegs into the ground and stacked the cases on top so they weren’t sitting on the grass. Then we all went down to the local farm, each with a sack. In the barn, we filled the sacks with straw to go under our groundsheets so they were a bit softer to lie on.

Some of our food was already in the camp for us but during the week, we did get other things from the farm. We made stews, salads and jacket potatoes, and had cornflakes and toast in the mornings.

Mundesley-on-Sea was a lovely place. We had some good times on the beach and a wonderful day in Norwich. The train we caught at the little station stopped at every village on the way. We went round the castle and saw all the sights, and there was a wonderful market with a sweet stall. We also went to the local church. As we walked down there together, everyone stood aside to let us go in. We felt very proud.

Each night we had a campfire and part of one of the songs we sang was:

Long, long worm a-crawling

Across the roof of our tent,

And the cold, cold water’s waiting

For us to take our morning dip,

And when I return, I find that worm

Right on my pillow slip.

It was a fabulous holiday – except for one night. There was a terrific thunderstorm that lit up the tent. We were all frightened but one of the girls was terrified. She happened to be sleeping by the cases which had got metal locks on and she was scared stiff the lightening would strike them. She wanted to change places with someone else but no-one would let her. We all spent an uncomfortable night but next morning we woke up to gorgeous sunshine, went down to the beach and the thunderstorm was forgotten.


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Mary Hadley :  Stafford Association of Widows

I was born in 1918 in Tipton in the Black Country. My mother died when I was six months old and my father was left with five boys and two girls. An aunt took my older sister to Australia and I didn’t see her again until I was 14 when she came over to visit. I went to live with my father’s brother and his wife, who lived across the way. I was reared by them and always looked on them as my mother and father.

From the age of about five, my parents used to take me to Blackpool. Usually we went twice a year: in the summer and in the autumn for the illuminations. We kept a grocer’s shop which we closed down for the week. We would get on the train with our big cane basket that had a leather strap round it to hold it together. Our rooms in the boarding house had just one toilet on the landing and a washbasin in the bedroom with hot water available each morning. In those days you always provided your own food. You were given a portion of the sideboard where you kept your butter and milk, and all the perishable food like meat and vegetables were kept in the kitchen. You’d give the landlady what you wanted for each meal and she would cook it for you. 

Blackpool was famous for the Tower Circus which was always a very popular show with holidaymakers. We’d go there to see the wild animals and clowns, and to the Ballroom where the Tower organ played the music for dancing – proper dancing, not like the dancing people do today. But we spent most of our holiday on the sands where I enjoyed the donkey rides. I wore rubber knickers that you pulled up with a bib to keep your bottom half dry. Some people wore the old-fashioned bathing costumes that nearly came down to their knees and big rubber hats that covered their ears. Bathing machines, like chalets, were wheeled down to the shore so you could change in them. Blackpool was a much better place then than it is now. It was lovely and clean – and we did have nice summers.

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Shirley Gumbley: Stafford Association of Widows


In the early 1940s I was living in Birmingham and we always went on holiday during the holiday fortnight that the Austin Motor Works used to have. My Dad worked there and it was always the same fortnight. I was about five or six when we first went to Llandudno. I had a brother who was ten years older than me but he didn’t come with us. During the worst of the war he was evacuated to Gloucester with the school but I stayed at home. When he came back it was soon time for him to join the Navy so he wasn’t at home a lot in my childhood. It was like being an only child really.

Lots of people went away at the same time, of course, but not necessarily to the same place. We used to go with my cousin’s family. We’d get on the train and sit in the corridor on our suitcases all the way to Llandudno. We stayed in a guest house just off the Front where the food was always good. 

           In the mornings my Dad and I used to wake up very early. We’d go out before breakfast and find a coffee house which was down underground in a cellar. We used to play on the beach where we’d paddle, make sandcastles and bury Dad. All the things children do today. We also went on boat trips from the pier through the Menai Straits. They used to run big paddle steamers and we’d stand and watch the paddles go round. There were kiosks on the pier, things like Punch and Judy, but not all the rides they have now because the all boats used to go from the pier.

We liked going up the Great Orme on the tram. I remember sitting with my cousin in the gorse bushes up on the top and having my photograph taken. There were no cable cars up the Great Orme in those days and Happy Valley used to be a theatre. We went to a lot of shows there. One that comes to mind was a hypnotist. My father, not wanting me to go into a trance, hid me under the seat and said, ‘Don’t listen to him. Whatever you do, don’t listen to him.’

We always enjoyed Llandudno. In fact, when my husband and I got married we spent our honeymoon there but we didn’t stay at the same hotel because they knew us. We stayed somewhere else instead.




Eunice Coates:  Stafford Association of Widows



When I was in my teens, my boyfriend - who later became my husband - and I used to go to the seaside with another courting couple who were our friends. None of us had got cars so we used to go on Hartford’s coach trips. We went every bank holiday: Easter Monday, Whit Monday and August Bank Holiday, which was then the first Monday in August. In those days you went dressed up for the day out; you didn’t go in jeans and flip-flops and things like that. On one occasion I had a very nice blue two-piece suit with a slim calf-length skirt that I was very proud of. It did restrict walking, though, and it wasn’t exactly the right gear for sitting on a deck chair on the beach. My boyfriend wore a jacket and trousers with a shirt and tie. Inevitably you carried a pakamac, a popular foldaway raincoat, because you couldn’t rely on the weather.

Many years later in the early 1960s, after we were married and had children of our own, we lived in Cannock and my sister and her family lived in Hednesford. We often went on big family outings. One was the workingmen’s club outing from Cannock to Blackpool. There were a lot of us besides all the other members. As well as me and my husband and our older child - the younger one was still a baby and stayed home with my mum -  my sister, her husband and three children, my brother, who wasn’t married then, and various uncles and aunts all went along. We weren’t all members of the workingmen’s club but one of my uncles was.

We went on a big long train. They’d load beer and crisps before we set off and there was always a money gift for children. You always took sandwiches with you because you couldn’t afford to buy food out in those days, not when you’d got little ones. Once at Blackpool, we didn’t all stay together but my family stayed with my sister’s family because the children were much of the same age. On the beach there was plenty of space and we organised a game of rounders. My little girl had her dress tucked in her knickers and the boys were in short trousers. All the children were in their bare feet. Suddenly one of the boys who was about four years old, screamed out and the next thing I knew there was blood everywhere. He’d trodden on some glass on the sands and cut his foot. We went to find a first-aid station because it was a bad cut and with all the bandages we couldn’t get his shoe on. We had to carry him around until we went back home so we were rather limited as to what we could do. It put a damper on the rest of the day.  


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