In the 1950s I stayed with my Nan in Pontrhydygroes. Every friday we would catch the bus to Aber and have fish&chips at the Dolphin. There was a fishmonger on Great Darkgate street with an open shop front, i was fascinated by all the variety of seafood. My sisters used to go to the King,s Hall there was a jukebox and fruit machines in the basement and lots of teddy boys with DAs smoking woodbines! We sat in the Castle grounds, there was a lovely fish pond with flower beds and seats round it. What a shame it’s gone.
The excitement of seeing different coloured street signs that meant that we were nearing the seaside is still vivid; my brother and I would compete to be the first one to ‘see the sea’. In the 1970s Margate was brash and Cliftonville quite posh, and as children we enjoyed this mix – we even sometimes played at the Cliftonville bowles club along side the retired bank managers and their wives. During the day we would sometimes explore Kent, visiting castles, gardens, preserved railways (mainly for my brother, which always annoyed me), but often spend the day on the beach, regardless of cold winds and seagulls. When I was about six my Great Aunt gave me and my brother shrimping nets, and we spent hours trawling for the poor creatures. The hovercraft came ashore just down the coast, and we loved going to watch it swoosh up onto the beach. As a teenager I visited Margate with friends on day trips from London, and discovered the arcades and funfair (and pubs which turned a blind eye to underage drinking!). I have always loved the sea, but although I now generally visit genteel and picturesque seaside towns, even the names Margate and Cliftonville bring back a wave of nostalgia. Frequent visits to Reculver and other historic costal sites also sparked a life-long passion for history.
I have vivid memories of being a child in the 1950s and travelling by train, on the Sunday School trip to Tenby. The excitement we all felt (about 200 of us) was electric. Carrying cake tins filled with sandwiches and with each child carrying a bucket and spade or beach ball we would pile onto the train on Carmarthen station and begin our journey by steam train..all stuffed into the GWR carriages. The anticipation of the walk from Tenby Station to Town was almost too much to bear. We would all split up and go to to the North or South Beaches and the adults who wanted peace went to the harbour. Then we would hurtle down to the beach for the best day of the year..no matter what the weather was…bathing and building sandcastles. At the end of the day there was the long walk back uphill from the beach with a stop in the Penny Arcade on the way. We all asleep on the train on the way home and for many of us it was only visit to the seaside in the whole year .