Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!

Living almost halfway between the east and west coasts we had our pick of the best seaside resorts. To the west there was Blackpool with its illuminations and tacky souvenirs, Morecambe where the tide went out for miles and Lytham-St-Annes which I remember most for having a far smarter class of charity shops. To the east we had amusements in Scarborough, cliffs at Flamborough Head, eight miles of spotless sandy beach at Filey, the old school charm of Robin Hood’s Bay and of course Whitby where the best fish and chips in the world are to be had, together with a sprinkling of Dracula on the side. Each year we’d board the coach for the annual Sunday School seaside trip optimistically clad in shorts and t-shirts which would alternate visits between east & west.  

Certainly, my great grandparents, Marion (Moody) and Arthur Booth did and for them it was almost invariably the west coast.

At first glance I thought these two photos had been taken on the same seaside excursion. Arthur is wearing his greige raincoat, pinstriped suit and carefully knotted tie. Marion has a dark blue coat with a jaunty collar, on which she has pinned a cloth flower, and paired the smart coat with sensible brown shoes. But look more closely and you start to notice the differences. Arthur has switched his rather swish fedora for the ubiquitous flat cap, Marion has moved her flower and changed the colour of her handbag. Broadly, too, the couple have aged. Judging by Nana (their daughter), I would say the photo on the left was taken in the mid-1940s, which would make the one on the right could be as much as a decade earlier.

Whilst the outfits may have changed and I can’t quite envisage Marion astride a donkey, I am not so sure our great grandparents’ experience was that different. Candyfloss, icecream and fish & chips with a slice of white bread and butter and a mug of tea still taste very much the same. Amusement arcades, risqué postcards and holiday snaps still keep us entertained.

A trip to the seaside was a pleasure eagerly anticipated.

By the time we reach the end of the 1950s, Arthur & Marion are back travelling without their girls. The pinstripe suit has been replaced, but not the flat cap. Marion has a new coat, but she’s kept with the sensible brown shoes.

Arthur Booth & Marion Moody. Photo coloured with myheritage. Own collection.

This was such an annual tradition that even after Marion died, Arthur took a final trip to Morecambe on his own sending separate postcards to his daughter and grandson which I found in Nana’s box of joy.

Nana’s parents, my great grandparents were modest hard-working people. They had both died before Mum reached her teens and I have far fewer documents and photos through which to reconstruct their lives. These three seaside photos represent such a small snippet and yet create a thread directly between their lives and mine.  

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