THE CLUB TRIP

During the war holidays were practically impossible for various reasons, the nearest I got to a holiday was a day at Cannon Hall Park, Cawthorne, which was a big treat and another story.

Not long after the war was over and the lucky ones, such as myself, had their dad back home, an annual event started to take place, and this was “The Club Trip”.

Working Mens’ Clubs were just that, only men were allowed to be full members, a state of affairs which continues to this very day ( as far as I am aware).

The club trip was a day at the seaside, which was funded by the particular club of which your dad was a member, and it was the “highlight” of the school Summer holidays. Only the children of fully paid up members were allowed to go on this wonderful outing to the seaside, and it was open to all children under the age of fifteen, bearing in mind that in those days the age for starting work was fifteen.

I suppose “The Committee” of the WMC would decide the destination each year, this could be Blackpool, Scarborough or Cleethorpes, the latter being the favourite as it is the nearest seaside resort to Barnsley. As a point of interest it isn’t the seaside, as such, it is the estuary of the river Humber, but to children, what did it matter? The point was, a full day out and not only that, Glory Be, crisps and pop were provided FREE of charge, to be eaten and drunk in copious amounts as we bowled along in what I must say were rather rickety buses. I must not forget to mention that each child was given 2/6d pocket money too, life was good.

The night before this eagerly anticipated event, we had to go to bed early, having had our bath, hair washed, and clean clothes laid out at the ready for the next morning. It would be at this point that my mother would then start to make the sandwiches, which would serve as our mid day meal, potted meat was the favourite filling, cheese and eggs still being rationed could not be spared. We didn’t care, it could have been coal dust, we were so excited at going to see the sea. The day started very early, and the usually quiet streets, would erupt into noisy chatter as the mothers with their children hanging on to them would make their way to the Working Mens’ Club, where this great adventure was to begin.

Looking back, I suspect that our mother was already worn out at this stage, marshalling her brood together, making sure that teeth had been cleaned, hands and faces washed, bladders synchronised.

The excitement of turning the corner of Rowland Road, Wilthorpe, Barnsley, and seeing a line up of buses, parked outside Gawber Road Working Mens’ Club, the men loading each bus with the pop and crisps. Strangely, few men appeared to take advantage of this annual treat, or was it to be expected, they would no doubt relish a day of peace and quiet, a few pints of beer at dinner time, and a lovely sleep afterwards without being disturbed. This was the one occasion that these men were willing to forgo their traditional Sunday Dinner with the obligatory Yorkshire Pudding. I must say that on each bus would be one Committee man, to TRY and control excited children, whilst their mothers gossiped happily at the front of the bus.


Gawber Road Working Mens' Club

It wasn’t long before the initial excitement turned into boredom, this was the signal for the pop and crisps to make an appearance, it was also the start of the first of the arguments, as to who was getting which flavour, orange, lemon or dandelion and burdock. Fortunately the crisps at that time were plain flavoured only, with a screw of dark blue paper at the bottom of the packet containing salt.

There would be swops of bottles of pop and for a while the only sounds which disturbed the peace were, the noise of the engine, the slurping of drinks and the contented munching of crisps accompanied by the crackling of the packets.

This would once again be shattered, when, all the empty packets were blown up and popped, causing more that one person to nearly jump out of their skin.

We would bowl along for a few more miles, gradually getting fractious, especially when the lads decided that it was fair sport to pull the girls’ hair, or as in my case, pinch my hair ribbons from my long plaits. Eventually the convoy of buses would pull up outside a café which meant that we were not far away from our destination, here the mothers would have a welcome cup of tea, whilst we were issued with threats of dire punishment if we did not get back on to the bus after a visit to the lavatories, the need of which had become an urgent requirement as a result of the pop we had poured down our throats.

We all boarded the bus, and after a head count to make sure that nobody had been left behind, we were off again on our last leg to the seaside. It wasn’t long before we saw the sign post – Scarborough fifteen miles and the excitement gained momentum by each passing mile. Eventually, we pulled up in a coach park, and after receiving instructions, to remember the number of our bus, where it was, and particularly a stern warning that it would leave promptly at six o’clock, we were free.


Naturally we made a beeline for the beach, it did not matter if there were signs of rain, or if it was chilly, we were at the seaside and we were going to have a good time. Indeed we did have a good time too, sometimes the day would be warm and sunny and out would come out bathing costumes (cosies), and the difficult operation of struggling into them, whilst our, by this time, weary mothers would hold a towel round us to protect our modesty. Off we would go splashing happily into the sea.

Whatever the weather we had such fun on the beach or sands as we called them, a donkey ride was a must, a game of cricket, trying to outdo each other by the size of our sand castles. I can remember having my first ice cream, which was an enormous sandwich of two crispy wafers and a big block of vanilla ice wedged between them.

The hours on the beach would fly past and they only seemed like minutes and far too soon it was time to gather all our belongings, try and rinse the sand from our feet and prepare to make way back to the coach.

There was still a treat to come, the day wasn’t quite over, fish and chips, eaten out of the carton, lashings of salt and vinegar and the best thing of all, we could eat them with our fingers, whilst walking back to the coach. The wisdom of our having this treat was often questioned, during the journey home, the details of which I won’t go into. I will say that we did not travel without paper bags.

It was a tired bunch of young and older who mustered together at the coach park, waiting for the head count, before we could board the bus.

Wearily we would take our seats, feeling grumpy and over tired and yet not wanting the day to end, at the start of the journey home we would have a sing song. Gradually this faded away as one by one, we would fall asleep and the next thing we knew, was our mothers shaking us awake, we were home.

Why did the journey home always pass more quickly than the journey there, taking into account that we slept too? I know why, it was the end of our day’s holiday for another year.

                                         music ~"On the Boardwalk"