Bolton Holidays – or was it Wakes Week?

Here are some lovely memories of people’s holiday experiences from the 50s onwards. It will form the basis of my next piece in The Bolton News (Wednesday June 30th):

Bolton Holidays – or Bolton Wakes? People’s recollections

Roni Cunliffe: In the 70s we went to Margate on the coach every year for 6 years while there we went to the shell grotto and Margate caves ,we also used to go on the hovercraft in the times we went there we went on the swift the on the sure , we also went to Broadstairs to the beach on the bus from Margate

Carol Walsh: I remember Wakes Weeks, my grandma used to take me and my brother on the train to Blackpool, the same boarding house in York St. (Central ) every year. Great memories.

Jayne Littler: My dad was an engineer and had the Wakes weeks off. We went to a B and B in Scarborough twice, bus to train station and train to Scarborough . Can’t remember if we changed trains or direct . We also hired a little bathing hut above the open air swimming pool on south shore. My brother had to be rescued by a lifeguard when he fell in and couldn’t get back up. When I was little went to see family in Cornwall on the train I think it was fourteen hours and we had a compartment for us four plus grandparents. Often my dad would say I wish we had enough money on holiday to buy you an ice cream everyday

Joanne Campbell: We did go away during Bolton Holidays, but not sure where. However, i remember 1 year we didn’t go away and I went to get a paper from the terminus at Andrew Lane, Astley Bridge, and staying there, sorting the papers and selling them for a least on one of the weeks, for nothing. It gave me something to do as I was an early riser. The local shops, at the bottom of Sharples Ave would close at dinner every day.

Andrea Coward: When British Rail was British Rail – my dad worked there and got free family tickets , we went to St Ives every year , didn’t have to pay for trains , we got a sleeper carriage , a very long way to St Ives from Bolton but was possible on the holiday express. One steam train to Manchester then the electric fast train, (holiday express) dad always got the Bolton Holidays weeks off from work, I remember spending many happy holidays on the beach with mum and dad , holidays are more difficult to book with work these days , didn’t realise how lucky I was.

Lesley Rayton: remember them being called Wakes Weeks… We used to go en masse from Moor Lane on Ribble Coaches to Torquay, usually coaches split up into 2/3 that more or less drove down together and used different stop offs for Drinks/Toilets etc… Loved it I was a young teenager at the time…Also during these holidays the Newsagents would close and you’d buy your Papers from allocated places on the Streets/Roads

Christine Salt: I worked in the travel office at Ribble, Bolton, for many years. Bolton holidays, (last Saturday in June and first week of July ), were mad busy, dozens of coaches going to places such as Rhyl, Llandudno , Newquay , Bournemouth etc, and every day hundreds of customers taking day trips to Blackpool, various zoos, Betws-y-Coed in Wales, and many more. Some days we didn’t even manage a cup of tea. Even when Continental holidays really took off, we still lots at day and weekly excursions, as well as cruise bookings and many package holidays. Obviously none of us were able to go away for Bolton Holidays.

David Collier:  In the Bolton Holiday Weeks the Bolton Evening News could be bought in the more popular resorts. I can remember being sent to buy one in Rhyl!

Nigel Greensitt: As a kid we would go away, maybe to North Wales or Torquay. I was impressed that the shops on the caravan sites would know where we came from “just by the way you talk” when in all probability it was because they knew when the various towns had their ‘wakes weeks’ ( Bolton always the two weeks following the last Saturday in June ) .

Jon Heath: I still go on holiday first week of what was Bolton holidays, we used to all pile in our auntie and uncles car and go to Robin Hood camp then we started to go to Towyn caravan sites as there was more going on, down the main Rd there sandbank, led to the sea wall and the beach, later years still we started travelling by coach from Moor Lane, was very hectic and dad would be cursing, grandma made us sandwich spread butties to eat on the coach, like having a picnic on arrival the trolleyboys would be waiting to load your cases and take you to your campsite, dad would obviously have to tip them, the coaches only went to Rhyl then not Towyn, you could buy Bolton evening news there, it was very exciting from start to finish, some of my friends never went away, and we would bring friends next door bars of rock, I loved the memories made and because of this took my own children, grandchildren and now me and my husband still go, wakes week, first week, last Saturday in June.when we came home the fair was still on Moor Lane and we would go on the fair, great 2 weeks

Arthur Singleton: In the 1950’s we always went for a weeks holiday in Bolton’s Wakes Week. Always went to Fleetwood. Did this for a decade.  Lunch at the same Fish and Chip Shop near the Euston Hotel. Not surprisingly saw a few of my Uncles ( not my real uncles ) and Families there every year. Always stayed with Mrs Hawkins B&B at 16 Windsor Terrace just opposite the Pier. Always fascinated with a Fortune Teller on the sea front , the Marionette man near the Bowling Greens and remember glorious long days in the Open Air Swimming Pool. Too dangerous to go in the sea because of the River. Always by Steam train from Bolton and when we got there we always went to Knott End by Ferry. For years my Dad convinced me we had been to the Isle of Man. I don’t remember it ever raining. What made me laugh were all the Bolton workmen sat in deck chairs sleeping the Lunchtime boozing off – with suntanned faces and arms and white bodies that looked as though they had never seen the sun. Don’t mention the woollen Swimming trunks which could hold 20 lbs of spuds when they were wet.

Vincent Malcolm Wright: I remember them being called Wakes Weeks and everyone knew when all other local towns Wakes Weeks were too. We always went to Blackpool to a Boarding House in Derby Road, near the baths and I have lots of old photos. When I was around 7 or 8 we started going to Northern Island for two weeks to a place called Warrenpoint and I have quite a lot of photos from those years too. As I got to 10 or so we began going to North Wales, originally Rhyll then later to Abergele, oddly I don’t have any photos from that period. I do remember pestering my Dad to leave soon enough on last Saturday so I’d be home in time for Roller Skating at Bridgeman Street Rink.

Cheryl Green: I remember it being called Bolton Holidays in the 70s although my nan from Atherton used to call wakes week. I never understood what she meant. We were fortunate enough to go on holiday Easter week, June week and Sept week but only to Pontins and Butlins and mum and dad used to take us to Cheetham Hill for all our holiday gear a couple of weeks beforehand . We were each given a black bin liner at the door and we’d pick out our own stuff and wasn’t allowed to wear any of it until the holiday started so everything was brand new. Not sure if that was the norm in them days or if it was just mum’s thing.I remember those times fondly

Margie Hodgetts: Day trips to Blackpool on a charabanc (coach) communal singing all the way home and a flat cap passed around for a tip for the driver! Holidays in Fleetwood with the highlight of the evening being the first to spot the Isle of Man ferry coming onto the horizon! Simple pleasures!

Ada Evans: I remember Wakes Weeks when all the shops used to close and I mean allthe shops and Bolton used to be like a Ghost Town. Every body used to go on Holiday Happy Days.

Mosie Wild: Lots of people from Farnworth used to go down to Cornwall when I was younger full they went for Bolton holidays. But we used to go to Scarborough. And even one year my dad got a coach trip up to take other people from Falmouth over to Scarborough for Bolton holidays.

Jackie Richards: Bolton Wakes, oh what lovely memories. 1955 Kent Street, Farnworth. I was 7 and there was something up. A burning hot Friday even the tarmac on the road was melting and the factory workers were running up the street, laughing and shouting and singing, ‘We’re off, we’re off, we’re off in a motor car, 50 bobbies are after us and we don’t know where we are’. At 8.00 after a wash and change I was bundled into a coach waiting in Frederick Street along with half the street. We were going to Fleetwood to catch the Lady Of Man to the Isle of Man. Such excitement I had never known before. It was a rough overnight crossing but no one minded, all the fellas during in the bar whilst women and children are butties and cake in the lounge. We slept eventually and woke to a glorious morning and the first sight of a magical island with it’s own little castle in the middle of the sea. (Tower of Refuge) I thought it was heaven, from 2 up 2 down terraced houses and mills to this wonderful place was magic to me. There were so many people from Kent Street and surrounding areas on the boat and during the week we saw most of them every day. I cried when we had to go home, as I wanted to stay forever in this lovely place. I did return many times during wakes weeks but that first trip with my nan and grandad was the best.

Michael Matthews: I can’t remember my mother and father taking me and later on my siblings away before 1959, up to the age of eight my grandmother and my aunt would take me to Blackpool for a week by charabanc usually, I joined the church lads brigade which along with the lads brigade was very popular at the time, and with them I went to camps in Abergele North Wales and Whitby! We lived under canvas and had a mess tent and practised marching and we had several bugle and drum bands it was very healthy for us kids living in sub standard houses near factories and mills belching out smoke, the people who ran these organisations had their wives and children there to, so it was very family orientated, when I was thirteen I joined the air training corps and spent the holidays on RAF bases learning to be young airmen and we even had a chance to fly!


By Paul Salveson

Paul was born in Bolton in 1952, one day before the Harrow and Wealdstone rail disaster. He has had a varied career, mostly to do with railways, mixed in with adult education, journalism, politics and community development. After a 25 year exile he is back home in Bolton. He is a visiting professor at the Universities of Bolton and Huddersfield and chairs South East Lancs Community Rail Partnership

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