When the Whole Town Closes
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By a Special Correspondent
Extended Tours Make a Strong Appeal to Lancashire Workers at Wakes Time and Prominent Coaching Concerns Make Special Arrangements for Meeting, Holidaymakers' Needs
WHY fan-type tours should have " caught on" to such an extent in Lancashire is a question that has interested quite a number of people in the industry. Primarily, the answer is that the extended tour in a popular form was introduced designedly to cater for the Lancashire holidaymaker, and, incidentally, by its nature it fitted in nicely with the Wakes system which,—to the outsider—is yet another of the northern mysteries.
Families and friends go . away for holidays together to a greater extent in Lancashire than anywhere else in the country. Starting about the end of June, groups of towns take their annual holiday, in turn, week by week until the end of September.
Oldham, for instance, started on a recent Saturday, and people from other parts of the country who do not know the Wakes habit will have been mystified by the sudden rush of the folk from Oldham to holiday resoris all over the country. At the same time as Oldham, there are Wakes in Fails= worth, Hollinwood. Lees, Middleton, Middleton Junction, and Springhead.
When a Lancashire town takes its annual holiday it does the job thoroughly and in a manner inconceivable to residents in other parts of the country. The first impression of a stranger in the town is that it looks like Sunday—there are so few people about, whilst normally busy streets are devoid of traffic. All the shops, except for an occasional confectioner or tobacconist, are closed. Probably a couple of juniors are in charge at the municipal offices, most of the departments being shut. For all practical purposes the whole town is closed.
The Wakes. To the bulk of the workers in Lancashire and adjacent places they mean something to be saved for and eagerly anticipated throughout the year—and how they save! Clubs arerun throughout the year in connection With mills, factories, co-operative societies and similar institutions, and B26 the week before the Wakes they pay out. Oldham was reckoned to have cashed about half a million pounds or approximately £3 a head. A little earlier Ashton-under-Lyne, with a population of 51,000, picked up about £75,000. Not all this money goes on holidays. Short of cash to settle the rates or other necessary matters, some will spend the week at home.
Years ago, before the War, stay-athome holidays were more general. The Wakes were an opportunity for visiting and entertaining, whilst the travelling fair came along to add to the gaiety, calling at each place as Wakes Week came along.
Catering for the Travel-conscious Holidaymaker.
It is in much the. same way that the full season's work is provided for those Who cater for the more travel-conscious holidaymaker of the present day. Coaches that pick up through the cotton district find the concentration of traffic. moving up or down the line of route week by week. One week crowds of travellers will come from Blackburn, another week from Preston, and so on. Each wzek the normal services bring holidaymakers to coach stations in the bigger centres, but they are different services that come in filled to capacity . as week follows week.
In this manner Lancashire and district's abnormal holiday loading is reduced considerably and "going away" is systematically spread over most of the summer. In consequence of this arrangement early and late visitors to resorts are able to benefit from the more attractive prices available for periods away from the height of the season.
Organizers of the popular extended tours have however, gone one better and, contracting for the full season's accommodation have secured attractive quotations. the benefit of which they have been able to pass on to their patrons. Add to this the fact that the• same coach travels from the originating point to the resort and back, also carrying out the local tours, the whole holiday being provided for one inclusive
Ice, and it is obvious that the traveller is saved much of the trouble and expense that making necessary arrangements would normally involve.
Some indication of how well these tours have been received is contained in the fact that one well-known Oldham operator runs two large hotels, one of the luxury type, in Torquay, whilst a Bury operator has his own hotels at both Torquay and Bournemouth. In addition, many others have full bookings of hotels throughout the season at the popular resorts.
At one end of the scale we find Blackpool, full of life and gaiety, as great an attraction as ever. Despite the huge numbers with which the great holiday town finds favour and the cornpetition in many spheres, it is still surprising to realize that it is possible to have a seven-day holiday fOr so little as £3 17s. 6d., including full accommodation at private hotels on the promenade, travel from industrial Lancashire and back, as well as one full-day and two half-day coach excursions. For another 22s. one can spend a week visiting London, Brighton and Margate.
Some of the Most Popular Coaching Areas.
The possibility of touching new ground at a reasonable cost and yet with assured standards in the matter of hotels has made tours to the south, south-west, East Anglia and Scotland, highly popular.
Costs of a Manchester man's holiday in Torquay must naturally vary with his taste in hotels, but complete accommodation for seven days, together with return travel, two day and two halfday excursions, totalling about 800 miles' coaching, is obtainable for as little as £5 15s. At about the-same cost it is possible to spend the week in Bournemouth with; say, three halfday trips or one day and one half-day, a sail to the Isle of Wight being provided on both occasions.
Weston-super-Mare is another seaside town where economical holidays, costing about E6 from Manchester, are available, Here again two of the seven days are spent in travelling to and fro, three short tours are provided.
When one lives in the North of England it seems a long way to Land's End, but tours with Newquay as a centre have met with an excellent response from many towns. A two-day journey in both directions, with a halfday and two full-day tours, makes the eight-day holiday an attractive venture at an inclusive figure of about £7 10e.
As with other districts, Lancashire is fully catered for in the matter of place-to-place tours which carry many thousands each year, but, generally speaking, their higher charges lessen the appeal to the mass of people.
After saving religiously for 12 months (as soon as they get back from one holiday they start 'saving for the next), the cotton-trade workers and their brethren look forward to exchanging the usually drab surroundings of their industrial life for a week of brightness and jollity.
That sums up the reasons for the enthusiasm with which the Lancashire worker,—relieved for a brief while from loom or store,—regards the days of glorious liberty planned for him by the coach industry.