Days Out

Just out, Summer Shell, 1933, Drake Brookshaw. Courtesy of the Shell Art Collection.

Before 1871 there were no bank holidays and paid holidays were not introduced until 1938. So it was only the wealthy that had both the spare time and transport to enjoy day trips.

As days off became more frequent and transport links were developed, leisure time was revolutionised for the working masses. This was the beginning of the great British day out.

Seaside Days Out 

A fancy dress competition for Austin Minis, 1960s.

The day trip to the beach was made popular by the Victorians who believed that fresh air and sea water benefited the health. Unlike today, it was not fashionable to get a sun tan, people much preferred to stay covered. Beaches were often restricted to a single sex.

The introduction of bank holidays and paid holidays made day trips to the coast a highlight for the working population. Industrial towns and cities were left behind for the freedom of the seaside.

By the 1930s the charabanc had evolved into more a comfortable form of transport: the motor coach. Coupled with the growth in availability of cars, these new forms of transport led to more far-flung days out.

In the mid-1960s a bank holiday trip to the seaside became notorious for the violent clashes of rival teenage gangs: The Mods and The Rockers. The sharp-suited scooter-crazy Mods and leather-clad motorbike-riding Rockers briefly turned resorts such as Brighton, Clacton and Margate into battlegrounds.

By the 1970s seaside trips were in sharp decline. The freedom of the motor car led to families seeking alternative days out while coastal resorts failed to invest in their future.

In recent years there has been a boom in British tourism, many seaside towns are being regenerated and revived as the popular destinations they once were.

Country Days Out 

A day tripper feeds a fallow deer in Richmond Park from a 1922 BSA motor car.

In the early 20th century few people owned a motor car and travel was often expensive. A day trip to the countryside was rare. The charabanc enabled the working population to travel to a countryside beauty spot or stately home.

Day trippers would often take a packed lunch to enjoy at their country destination and picnic hampers for motorists were introduced. First made popular by Queen Victoria and her family, picnics soon became a favourite of the travelling masses.

By the late 1930s there were numerous express bus services. Speedy travel could now be taken around Britain including destinations like London. Day trips to the capital city enabled visitors to see the sites from the iconic red bus.

In 1958 the first motorway was built. Day trippers could now travel even longer distances in a shorter time by motor car or coach. Gradually more of the UK became accessible for great day out.

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