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Post-war Holidaying

After World War Two, the British seaside holiday came into its heyday. A huge clean-up operation was needed however, to remove sea defences and mines to make the coast safe for holidaymakers.

In 1946, Bury Free Press reported nearly 5000 mines needed to be cleared from Suffolk beaches:

‘As part of the anti-invasion measures, 951 beach minefields comprising 144,000 mines were laid around the coasts of Britain, including 27,000 mines in Norfolk, 25,000 in Suffolk and 17,000 in Essex. For some time, officers and men of the Royal Engineers […] have been working unobtrusively at the delicate and dangerous task of removing the minefields […] of the remainder, 5,500 in Norfolk and 4,900 in Suffolk still need to be tackled.’

‘Clearing Suffolk’s Beaches’ Friday 10th May 1946, Bury Free Press. Transcribed with thanks to The British Newspaper Archive.

Holidaymakers travelled from all parts of the country to visit the East Anglian coast. A publicity film produced by Great Yarmouth Borough Council in the 1950s, shows the vast numbers of people who travelled to the area for their annual holiday. To watch the full video visit the East Anglian Film Archive here.

Whilst some people stayed in hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses, the majority flocked to holiday camps which reached their height in the 1950s and 60s. A new holiday camp to open after the war was Rogerson Hall Holiday Centre in Corton. Like its predecessors, Rogerson Hall offered an all-inclusive package with entertainment including dancing and fancy dress competitions.

(LA) 1300/30/31 Photograph of dancing holidaymakers at Rogerson Hall Holiday Centre, c1951-1952. Image copyright Mrs H Ibberson. All rights reserved.

The seaside offered a variety of entertainment including amusement arcades, crazy golf, dodgems and helter skelter slides. As well as ice cream and fish and chips, people could now enjoy candyfloss and sticks of rock.

In the 1960s and 1970s, camping and caravan holidays became popular. Post-war production methods made cars and caravans cheaper, making this mode of transport more readily accessible for people to buy and use for their holidays. Listen to Charles Martin talk about his holidays by motorbike, car and coach in the clip below.

Suffolk Archives · Clip from oral history recording with Charles Martin nd, ref. L401/1/674

In Suffolk, there were many places holidaymakers could park up including North Denes Caravan and Camping Park in Lowestoft, Red Lodge Caravan Site in Freckenham and Landguard Lodge and Caravan Site in Felixstowe.

K681/1/158/98 Felixstowe – aerial photo of Landguard Lodge and caravan site mid-20th century

Towards the end of the 1960s, more people were vacationing abroad. Air travel became affordable and offered a way to reach locations like Benidorm where hot sunny weather was guaranteed. By the 1980s, international holidays were no longer a novelty and holidays at home in Britain declined in popularity.