History Coursework – Holidays In the Early Twentieth Century

Holidays in the early twentieth century for the majority of the working classes were greatly dominated by poverty. Source A recounts how many of the poorest in Blackpool took in visitors during the holiday periods in order to make ends meet. The working classes or such on a low wage were only able to go on holiday as other poor family provided low cost accommodation at their own expense, as the need for the income was so great and quite often essential. This meant the whole family including small children worked from noon till night providing the best stay they could at no extra cost just to keep custom. For the majority of the working classes this was a new and wonderful experience, as they had spent the majority of their lives working and had never been waited on in such a way.

Food was basic, potatoes were provided at a small extra cost any additional food would have to be brought in, the amount one ate often reflected their financial status, those who really were on the most basic income would service mainly on the potatoes, those with maybe a little to spare could have a bit of meat or fish in addition. On such holidays the visitors would be massively packed in often with more than one person to a bed. Holidays in this period would not be considered easy in comparison with the kind we have become accustom yet, they provided a cheap and enjoyable break from the basic, toilsome day to day life, Unfortunately this was only possible by the exploitation of another group of people.

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Seaside resorts, such as Blackpool, however were extremely cramped, as they were very popular and a lot of people could just about afford to travel there. the cramped conditions were highlighted by the fact that the family who owned the house would ‘hutch’ into as little space as possible. The source recalls one particular bank holiday when the house was more cramped than usual, with 49 people wanting potatoes in what was only a ‘comfortable sized family house’.

Blackpool was especially popular as those with the most limited amount of holiday money could afford a day trip there. The beaches, funfairs and general family atmosphere, made it a suitable place for the whole family.

The day trip was an easy way to escape from the industrial cities with railway companies running excursion trains from these cities to seaside resorts.

A) (ii)

Both sources A and B describe holidays at the beginning of the twentieth century although they convey two very different images. The main reason for this being that source A is an objective account where as source B is a piece of propaganda used to advertise the extension of St Ann’s pier. Source A is an account of holidays in the early twentieth Century written by Kathleen Eyre who has nothing to gain by glorifying the situation whereas source B stands to befit financially by creating a picture of entertainment and luxury. Source A is largely concerned with money and the lack of it and how holidays were greatly dominated by financial constraints however source B portrays an image of holidays full of entertainment and fun regardless of the weather without a mention of cost. Source B creates an image in the mind of the working class of a holiday unlike any they have ever known, full of luxury and availability, with nothing less than the best in every area. Sadly one great difference between sources A and B for the majority of the working classes would be that one would be a dream the other a reality.

Question B

The last sentence in source C states that people could not afford to go on holiday to the seaside, whereas in source A thousands of people were expected. This appears to be somewhat contradictory. However this is not the case. This apparent difference can be explained by the fact that even if less than 1% of the working classes took holidays this would still result in tens of thousands of people taking holidays. This is not only supported by source B in which thousands were expected to visit the newly extended pier, but also source A, as the implication of 49 visitors in just one of perhaps hundreds of small coastal homes is that their were many thousands taking to the seaside. It is also stated in source C that in 1937 28% of the working classes had an annul holiday with pay, and often those amongst them with any kind disposable income would have a short holiday, although this may be a small percentage it mounts up to an incredible amount of people.

The comment made in source C stating; that in thousands of cases it was not a question of providing a holiday at the seaside, because even if holidays were granted they are in such circumstances that they could not even get to the seaside for a day, was a reflection of the poverty that trapped the majority of the working class. Looking at the sources it is clear that their were different levels of poverty within the working class, the poorest in society could not even afford to go on the cheapest of holidays, as conditions were often so bad that their was no money that wasn’t already committed to day to day survival.

Quite often these people had families to consider, debts to pay, and generally survived on the simplest existence. It is this group of people that are discussed in source C. Although the compulsory paid holiday act did not create the for these people to go on holiday it did create the opportunity of going on a working holiday. The next level consisted of the people that had some form of expendable income, although this may have meant they eat only the most basic of meals, and had the cheapest accommodation, in order to produce this extra money.

Question C

Source D is part of a survey carried out by the British tourist board in 1948. The survey could have been conducted for any number of reasons, although due to the second world war it was the first opportunity the government had, had to observe the effects of the bill that was passed in 1937, that made it obligatory on the part of the employer to give every person an annual paid holiday. Source D, also allowed the government to show how the number of people going on holiday had improved, with the bill that was introduced 1937, which made it compulsory for employers to give annual paid holidays. The information was compiled three years after the end of the war, this time laps was probably due to the fact that many soldiers weren’t de-mobbed for up to 2 years after the war ended, during this period many families remained depleted and did not go on holiday.

The War also affected the way people thought, suddenly people of all classes had travelled and had the chance to broaden their horizons, the war had allowed thousands of men and women to venture out of their restricted existence, this undoubtedly contributed to the increase in the number of people that took holidays. Another factor could be that Britain’s first real socialist government had just come into power and appeared to be concerned with the welfare of the working classes. This marked the birth of the welfare state as well as things such as unemployment benefits, social security and the NHS. Finally their was a government that cared about it’s people, and it is possible, that this government promoted this message by producing material such as source D that demonstrated just how much they had improved peoples lives.

Question D; part (i)

Sources E, F, G, H and I can all be used as evidence to demonstrate just how much holidays have changed since the second world war. One substantial difference is the continual increase in the expectance we have of holidays. Prior to the second world war holidays were considered a luxury, for example things like sharing beds would have been greatly excepted amongst the working classes at that time, today however even the thought would horrify the majority of us. Source I can be used to support this, the source expresses one woman’s anger when in 1972 one holiday company failed to produce a room with a window, the woman was simply outraged, it is only when we then compare this source to one such as source A the dramatic change becomes apparent. Source I also tells how people were made to wait for there rooms to become available, but to day any slight delay would be classed as a major inconvenience and often result in a complaint.

Before the war you would have taken your holiday when you were told and if you could afford to, but in modern society most people are able to pick and choose when they want to go on holiday and how long they want to go for, to a certain point. This change is shown in source G when everything shut down and if you could afford to travel at that point you would.

An advance in technology has also affected holidays since the end of the war, the development of trains; cars and aeroplanes have enabled as to travel effortlessly. This is demonstrated in source H by the advert for a new motorcar in which it is suggested that holidays should be taken by car. The expectations we now have of holidays as well as developing technology now runs in parallel with our ability to support those expectations financially. The development of aeroplanes has allowed us to holiday abroad, before the war holidays abroad had remained a privilege for the richest in society, today we can get package deals such as the one in source I reasonably cheap. Sources F and I are both accounts of package holidays to European countries, one taken in the mid fifties the other early seventies, this suggests that we now exploit the poorer nations such as Spain or Italy in the same way we exploited the poorest in our own society before the war.

Studying sources F,G and I it becomes apparent that over time the average persons holiday entitlement has gradually increased and by 1972 (source I) their is no mention of all the workers having to holiday at the same time.

Question D ; part (ii)

Sources E to I, can also be used to demonstrate how the problems of going on holiday have remained the same. Financial restraints often cause difficulty when planning a holiday. Source E was a holiday school built by Hornsea-on-sea council that provided a holiday for children in families that could not get away themselves, this allowed the children to go on holiday for a few weeks while the parents continued to work. These arrangements still exist to day, but are more commonly known as play schemes or holiday camps.

A lack of time on holiday has and is likely to remain one of the problems concerned with going on holiday. Source F is an account written about a holiday abroad by Shirley Dewsnap in which it is stated that ” We needed another holiday to recover from the first, as we had spent so much time running around trying to see everything “this suggest that lack of time is often a problem.

The inconvenience of travel, the fact that travel can be tedious and can often require careful planning often proves to be a problem. Settling in somewhere unfamiliar can often be incredibly unnerving. This is supported by source I in which Janice Honman found herself in a foreign country unable to fully communicate, whilst trying to sort out a problem with her room. Having to trust someone else to provide the kind of holiday you want, is often a problem having to be totally dependant on someone else (the travel agent for example) has always been seen as one of the downsides to going on holiday. This only became a real problem in the later years of the twentieth century when things like the package holiday became available. Source I can be used to demonstrate how doing this can backfire and led to a holiday of discomfort and annoyance. When abroad a serious problem for some people is the inability to communicate fully. This proved to be the case for Janice Honman (source I).

Question E

Holidays have become extremely important in British society and greatly affects the British economy. They allow people to travel, rest and spend time with their families. the economy has gained from people spending time on holiday, and the section of the British economy now realise greatly on tourism.

Sources A and B show how seaside resorts were popular with the people of Britain. This popularity and demand for the seaside still exists. People need holidays to recover from heavy work loads and more importantly these periods allow them to spend time with their loved ones, which otherwise would be spent at work. Resorts like Blackpool and St Anne’s still attract people on day trips, as well as holidays as they provide the perfect environment for families with beaches etc.

Holidays abroad are very common, with most families going abroad at least once a year. This is important as it allows us to enjoy other cultures, traditions and ways of life, which we otherwise would not have experienced, which is essential in a country such as Britain where there are so many religions and races.

Holidays are no longer just a break from the toilsome ways of day-to-day life but a way of obtaining social and economical status. The social implications involved in going on holiday are deeply set, for centuries the richest in society were identified by the whiteness of their skin, evidence that they did not need to work. However within the first few years of the twentieth century this began to change as the wealthy English people discovered the winter sunshine on the French and Italian Rivera. During the course of the century, sunshine was to become one of the goods that was marketed and sold to an ever-larger numbers of people. Prior to the paid holiday act, holidays appeared to be a privilege for the rich and it wasn’t until 1939 that for the majority of people holidays became a way of life.

in a society where more and more people are under extreme amounts of pressure, with less time to socialise and see there relatives, holidays are becoming vital resting and recuperating periods which allow us to re-charge our batteries.

As peoples standards of living have improved there has become a bigger space in the

economy for hotels, bed and breakfasts etc. Sources A and B show how people crammed into beds and house. This would not happen today, with the thought of having to share a room with someone let alone a bed, being totally unacceptable.

The figures in sources C and D no longer exist with people able to afford time off work and with a greater disposable income to spend, they can afford to spend this money on tourist industries which is why holidays are so important to the British economy. With the amount of money people can afford to spend, the tourism industry/ economy can only grow.

The development of the travel industry caused an incredible boost to the British economy and gradually Britain has gone from a manufacturing – economy to a service economy. Before the travel industry became accomplished Britain main source of income came from the manufacturing of goods, however as the rate at which Britain produced these goods has declined we have created wealth through providing a service. Today the travel industry is a large and essential proportion of Britain’s economy.

Although it is not only Britain who benefited financially from the travel industry, by generating income in convertible currencies, the world’s fastest growing industry had become a lifeline for the economies of many of the world’s poorer countries. Tourism also spread western money, western fashions and ideas of personal freedom to countries as diverse as Thailand Turkey and the Gambia. By 1974 it was estimated tourists were spending $29 billion a year, 6% of the total value of international trade. The travel industry is continually developing, and experimenting with new ideas and incredibly still continues to grow.

The importance of holidays can only continue to grow, with time spent at work increasing and time spent at home or relaxing decreasing. the economy can only benefit from people going on holiday, and expand from what is all ready a large part of the British economy.

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