Bank holiday rush to the seaside

[Beds & Herts Tuesday Telegraph: August 5th, 1919]

Luton seems very empty now. The big works are closed for the week, there is a general holiday in the straw trade for the week, and the shops are closed for part of the week. Thousands of people have gone away, and despite the crowded conditions of all the seaside resorts, they seem to have found places in which to make a home for the time being.

We have even heard of people speculative enough to go to such a place as Brighton on the chance of being able to find rooms when they arrived, but as it is reported that at Brighton crowds of people had to sleep – or try to sleep – on the beach, it seems probable that the lot of such venturesome people may not be all sunshine.

Probably the fact that it was the first summer holiday season after the war had something to do with this general exodus. Many had denied themselves a real holiday away from Luton during the latter years of the war, when travelling was difficult, some of the coast resorts were liable to provide the excitement and danger rather than a rest cure, and staffing troubles made long holidays impracticable. Now they are making the most of things.

So keen were some of them to get away that the booking offices at the two stations were kept busy all day Friday issuing tickets in advance, and from 2.30 on Saturday morning the up platform at the Midland station was packed from end to end with holidaymakers bent on getting out of Luton by the first available train. Later in the morning there was a queue outside the booking hall.

Sunday's traffic was also very heavy, and on Monday both stations were kept so extremely busy that the staffs described it as the heaviest bank holiday for a long time.

The Midland issued nearly 5,000 tickets to London, and where people went afterwards we cannot say, except that a good number went up on Monday specially to see the River Pageant.

Of direc t bookings to seaside resorts, Brighton and Southend divided honours, there being 500 to each place. Margate and Ramsgate between them had close on 500, and other totals were – Hastings 210, Eastbourne 200, Bournemouth 100, Folkestone 100, Worthing 50, Southsea 40, Bognor 30, Herne Bay 20, Scarborough 10. There were also a number of bookings to places in the Peak District.

To Bedford 1,000 tickets were issued, and to stations from Leagrave to Ampthill 736. Harpenden attracted 1,055, and St Albans 1,456. Of the tickets for London over 1,100 singles were issued on Friday for use on Saturday.

Great Northern passengers to the seaside gave their preference to Yarmouth, for which over 300 tickets were issued; to Cambridge, probably for places on the Great Eastern coast area, 150 were issued, and a few booked through to Scarborough.

In addition to the business at the M.R. And G.N.R. Stations, tickets issued from the Luton offices of Messrs Pickfords were as follows: Brighton 400, Hastings 200, Eastbourne, Worthing, Bexhill, Bognor 350; Bournemouth, Southampton, Portsmouth, Isle of Wight 800; West of England 200; South-West of England 80; Margate, Ramsgate, Deal, Dover, Herne Bay, Folkestone 400; Southend, Clacton, Felixstowe, Dovercourt, Lowestoft, Yarmouth, Gorleston 250; North Wales 10; Scotland and the North 20.