Northern holiday special trains

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Bigman

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I remember back in the mid 80's, there were loco hauled trains from Leeds on a Saturday to Skegness and Paignton. I also remember there were Saturday additionals to Blackpool., one of which was non-stop between Leeds and Manchester Victoria. I seem to remember there being one from York which stopped at Castleford. Can anyone else back this up?
 

chorleyjeff

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I saw an interesting feature on BBC North West about the so-called Wakes Weeks - the complete shutdown of towns in the North West for the summer holiday fortnight during the 1950's. It showed shots of a train of ex-LMS stock leaving Blackburn crammed to the cant rails with holidaymakers. Does anyone know what the destinations of these trains were please? Presumably Blackpool was one, but did they go further afield: the West Country, South Coast or Scotland for instance? I assume these were not timetabled services but I might be wrong on that.
I saw an interesting feature on BBC North West about the so-called Wakes Weeks - the complete shutdown of towns in the North West for the summer holiday fortnight during the 1950's. It showed shots of a train of ex-LMS stock leaving Blackburn crammed to the cant rails with holidaymakers. Does anyone know what the destinations of these trains were please? Presumably Blackpool was one, but did they go further afield: the West Country, South Coast or Scotland for instance? I assume these were not timetabled services but I might be wrong on that.
They were not "so called". They actually were Wakes Weeks.

As a spotter between Preston and Leyland in the 1950's the whole summer was a field day for copping locos from rare sheds, particularly at the end of summer when Blackpool Illuminations were switched on. You'd get standard 9F's from sheds like Toton , including the Crosti boilered ones from Wellingborough, arriving mid-afternoon and returning late at night. There would also be rare Jubilees from the Midlands and Yorkshire and rarest of all ex-LNER locos such as B1, K2 and K3's from sheds such as York, Darlington, Stockton and Neville Hill etc.
Preston, Chorley and Leyland holiday fortnight always coincided with Glasgow fortnight so there was plenty of Scottish locos about from some of the more obscure sheds in the Glasgow area.
Incidentally I never heard the term "wakes week" used to describe the annual holidays in my area.
As a Preston lad in the 1950s Wakes Weeks was a well known term. There was even a feature film titled Hindle Wakes with Hindle actually being Preston. My memories of the huge amount of Bank Holiday traffic are similar except the LNER engines were K3s and B1s from Sheffield and West Yorkshire areas. 9Fs came from Sheffield area and East Midlands( the only 9Fs we saw) as did 8Fs. Specials from the West Midlands and places such as Watford had the usual LMS locos. There were also numerous Crabs from East Lancs and Manchester areas dragging non corridor stock. All the while the normal timetabled trains ran, including locals as well as medium distance and London and Scottish trains with sometimes unusual traction such as a pair of Black 5s on the Royal Scot. No goods or mineral trains of course.
 
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52290

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They were not "so called". They actually were Wakes Weeks.


As a Preston lad in the 1950s Wakes Weeks was a well known term. There was even a feature film titled Hindle Wakes with Hindle actually being Preston. My memories of the huge amount of Bank Holiday traffic are similar except the LNER engines were K3s and B1s from Sheffield and West Yorkshire areas. 9Fs came from Sheffield area and East Midlands( the only 9Fs we saw) as did 8Fs. Specials from the West Midlands and places such as Watford had the usual LMS locos. There were also numerous Crabs from East Lancs and Manchester areas dragging non corridor stock. All the while the normal timetabled trains ran, including locals as well as medium distance and London and Scottish trains with sometimes unusual traction such as a pair of Black 5s on the Royal Scot. No goods or mineral trains of course.
I made a typo, they were K2's I saw coming from the North East not K1's. I did see 9F's from the East Midlands, including the Crosti boilered ones though. 9F's were rare here in the 50's until Newton Heath acquired some.
 

WesternLancer

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My parents traveled on an overnight wakes week through train from Leyland to Eastbourne in the 1960's. Eastbourne was one of their favourite destinations and they were sorry when BR pulled the plug on the train. They then went by scheduled trains via London. I think the hotel they stayed in was owned by my dad's trade union.
Was he in the T&G by any chance? T&G always had a big hotel / centre on Eastbourne Seafront

By the time I knew it (1970s) given the architecture I expect it had been rebuilt:

Had a good reputation as it paid decent hotel sector wages when I lived near Eastbourne - compared of course with the rest of the hotel industry in the town, which would tend to be more casualised work etc, as you might expect. Not a town with a significant union culture of course.

Was there any sort of coordination between the mills / towns so that not everyone in Lancashire tried to get away in the same week?
I believe so yes (as I now see others have answered with more interested detail on the point).
 
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Harpers Tate

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Looking at the NE Region timetable for Summer 1958 at Bridlington on a Saturday, there were arrivals from various places at
0621; 0654; 0856; 0927; 0936; 0946; 0958; 1012; 1020; 1030; 1050; 1058; 1105; 1118; 1128; 1137; 1144; 1151; 1200; 1217; 1225; 1233; 1241; 1300; 1309; 1316; 1325; 1335; 1345; 1355; 1412; 1438 after which they thin out somewhat.
 

75A

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The School holidays are still different County by County, for example here in Leicestershire the little darlings go back tomorrow (Wednesday 25th).
 

52290

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Was he in the T&G by any chance? T&G always had a big hotel / centre on Eastbourne Seafront

By the time I knew it (1970s) given the architecture I expect it had been rebuilt:

Had a good reputation as it paid decent hotel sector wages when I lived near Eastbourne - compared of course with the rest of the hotel industry in the town, which would tend to be more casualised work etc, as you might expect. Not a town with a significant union culture of course.


I believe so yes (as I now see others have answered with more interested detail on the point).
He was originally in the NUVB (National Union of Vehicle Builders) but there were so few of them that it had to amalgamate with larger union, I can't remember which. He did tell me that the hotel paid proper wages.
 

Harvester

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Sunderland used to shut down in the last week of July and first week of August- 'Shipyard Fortnight'. Were there lots of holiday specials then too ?
I have a copy of the 1962 NER Summer Timetable which shows sixteen additional trains on summer Saturdays on the coast route, all of which ran on the dates mentioned.

Departures from Sunderland:

FO 22:05 to Bournemouth
SO 08:53 to Yarmouth
SO 09:04 to London
SO 09:45 to London
SO 10:00 to Manchester
SO 10:49 to Filey Holiday Camp
SO 19:57 to Saltburn

Arrivals at Sunderland:

SO 11:02 from Saltburn
SO 12:49 from Filey Holiday Camp
SO 13:21 from Manchester
SO 14:14 from Scarborough
SO 15:44 from Colchester
SO 16:14 from Bristol
SO 18:19 from Bournemouth
SO 19:27 from Manchester
SO 21:28 from Manchester
 

scragend

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Bolton used to have "Bolton holidays" in June when the cotton Mills shut down simultaneously in June.

This hung over well into the 1990s, as I still remember some schools still having the 6 week summer holiday in June/July rather than July/August.
Similarly in Wigan, although slightly later. "Wigan Week" was the first week in July.

When I was at school the summer term always finished on the first Friday in July (we had 7 weeks' holiday). I did my GCSEs in 1997. That year I collected my results on Thursday 21st August and started sixth form the following Monday. A year later the school had a problem, because the GCSE results came out on the Thursday *after* term had started. So the lower sixth had to start without knowing what grades they had actually got. I think the term dates changed the following year so it didn't happen again.

To this day I feel like August is the back end of summer, whereas most people seem to consider the beginning of August "when the schools break up" as the start of summer.
 

30907

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I have a copy of the 1962 NER Summer Timetable which shows sixteen additional trains on summer Saturdays on the coast route, all of which ran on the dates mentioned.
Checking 1958 (which probably reflects the peak summer of holiday trains) all those ran for most of July-August, not just "Shipyard Fortnight" - I imagine there were plenty of extras for those two weeks!
Was there ever a holiday train service from a central Manchester station that served the Butlin's holiday camp at Pwllheli?
Yes, from Exchange at 8.15am (and one from Liverpool, both terminating at Pemychain) returning from Portmadoc at 10.40am - no, I can't work out why Butlins' guests had to change at Afon Wen on the return! 1958 again.

OT: there was also a Swansea-Pwllheli via Carmarthen and Aberystwyth, but mentioning that might give someone ideas :)
 

WesternLancer

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He was originally in the NUVB (National Union of Vehicle Builders) but there were so few of them that it had to amalgamate with larger union, I can't remember which. He did tell me that the hotel paid proper wages.
Thanks - interesting to look up the history of the NUVB. Origins in coachbuilding (actual road carriages I assume) and was itself the result of various mergers. Wikip says it merged into the T&G in 1972. No idea if the NUVB had it's own holiday place in Eastbourne too, or if it was always a T&G place.

Found this interesting article about some art work that was in there, which incidentally details the history of the building, saying construction started in 1974. I didn't know enough about local history to say what was on the site before.


Would it have been in the 70s that your parents used to go there?

I recall seeing the direct 'inter-regional' or cross country trains as we might now call them trains that still made it to Eastbourne on Saturdays in the 80s. Their loss is indeed a shame.
 

Killingworth

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Looking at the NE Region timetable for Summer 1958 at Bridlington on a Saturday, there were arrivals from various places at
0621; 0654; 0856; 0927; 0936; 0946; 0958; 1012; 1020; 1030; 1050; 1058; 1105; 1118; 1128; 1137; 1144; 1151; 1200; 1217; 1225; 1233; 1241; 1300; 1309; 1316; 1325; 1335; 1345; 1355; 1412; 1438 after which they thin out somewhat.
In the 1950s I watched them through Middleton-on-the-Wolds (betweeen Market Weighton and Driffied) every 15 minutes so others must have got there via Hull. Mostly 4-6-0 hauled, returning by the afternoon. By the 1960s it was nose to tail coaches from places mostly in today's South Yorkshire.
 

nw1

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The School holidays are still different County by County, for example here in Leicestershire the little darlings go back tomorrow (Wednesday 25th).

August school return sounds very very harsh, particularly as it's now a long slog through to December. Natural date this year would be September 6th. Earliest I ever went back, IIRC, was September 3rd and that was exceptional. More typically, both primary and secondary, it was between about the 5th and 11th. Christmas return was typically soon after Twelfth Night though one year it was as late as Jan 14th.

I get the impression that schools do go back earlier now, both in September and in January, compared to the 80s. Also they seem to have fixed the Easter holiday rather than centering it round the actual date of Easter, which in some years presumably means they have to go back to school the day after Easter Monday or only break up on Maundy Thursday: not ideal.
 

Dave W

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The School holidays are still different County by County, for example here in Leicestershire the little darlings go back tomorrow (Wednesday 25th).

I don't think it's much more varied than that - almost all other counties go back in the first week of September. Leicestershire's the exception, rather than an example.

I get the impression that schools do go back earlier now, both in September and in January, compared to the 80s. Also they seem to have fixed the Easter holiday rather than centering it round the actual date of Easter, which in some years presumably means they have to go back to school the day after Easter Monday or only break up on Maundy Thursday: not ideal.

It's the only way to balance the length of terms. Next Easter is the 17th April which is so late it's only really feasible to send them back on the Tuesday after Easter weekend. Breaking up on Maundy Thursday doesn't sound fair, mind... it wasn't too long ago that Civil Servants got a half-day for that (swept away by the reforms in the early 2010s)

FWIW I remember going back to school (1992-2005) on the first Thursday in September regardless of date - anywhere between 1st and 7th. That doesn't appear to be all that fixed anymore. And as above, Leicestershire's weird (and Scotland...!)
 
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Greetlander

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I remember back in the mid 80's, there were loco hauled trains from Leeds on a Saturday to Skegness and Paignton. I also remember there were Saturday additionals to Blackpool., one of which was non-stop between Leeds and Manchester Victoria. I seem to remember there being one from York which stopped at Castleford. Can anyone else back this up?
I can't attest to any of this but I do remember going on a Summer Saturday from Halifax to Blackpool, and it was a white liveried/blue strip Calder Valley DMU. Pretty sure it was at least two 3-car units together. Packed to the rafters (although we got the front seat so the view was a winner). I'm sure we also travelled from Halifax to Southport and Morecambe on occasions but maybe I'm imagining the first and the second involved a cross-city trek at Bradford. The Scarborough-Bangor trains at Huddersfield must have served a serious holiday purpose as well as it served both coasts.
 

Whisky Papa

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August school return sounds very very harsh, particularly as it's now a long slog through to December. Natural date this year would be September 6th. Earliest I ever went back, IIRC, was September 3rd and that was exceptional. More typically, both primary and secondary, it was between about the 5th and 11th. Christmas return was typically soon after Twelfth Night though one year it was as late as Jan 14th.

The return to school in mid-August in Lancashire and Yorkshire was compensated by a further week off in mid-September. In Calderdale, this pattern lasted until 1996, which coincided with our son's move to secondary school. In Burnley I think it persisted for some years later, whereas Rochdale had already gone onto a more normal pattern for the schools much earlier. "September Break" offered a relatively cheap option for family holidays, particularly at the likes of Haven or Butlins.
 

52290

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Thanks - interesting to look up the history of the NUVB. Origins in coachbuilding (actual road carriages I assume) and was itself the result of various mergers. Wikip says it merged into the T&G in 1972. No idea if the NUVB had it's own holiday place in Eastbourne too, or if it was always a T&G place.

Found this interesting article about some art work that was in there, which incidentally details the history of the building, saying construction started in 1974. I didn't know enough about local history to say what was on the site before.


Would it have been in the 70s that your parents used to go there?

I recall seeing the direct 'inter-regional' or cross country trains as we might now call them trains that still made it to Eastbourne on Saturdays in the 80s. Their loss is indeed a shame.
Yes,it must have been after the NUVB had merged with the T & G as the former didn't own any hotels. My dad had worked at Leyland Motors and Doncaster carriage works but served his time at Fowler's in Leyland, a small coach builder which was later owned by local bus company, Fishwick. After retiring from Leyland Motors, Fishwicks asked him to work part time for them at Fowler's. So he ended up where he started.
My parents thought that the hotel in Eastbourne was the best one they had ever stayed in and they very much liked the through train which started at Preston and picked up at Leyland, Chorley and Adlington White Boar, towns that shared the same holiday fortnight.
BR even provided a packed breakfast in the morning.
 

Pyreneenguy

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Was there ever a holiday train service from a central Manchester station that served the Butlin's holiday camp at Pwllheli?
In the summer of 1964, there was the 8.05 am , Saturdays only from Manchester Exchange to Pen y Chain, arriving 12.26 pm. The return service departed from Pwllheli, at 07.45 am, arriving Manchester Exchange at 12.58 pm.

That summer, I had a fortnights holiday at Butlins with my Nan, brother and sister. I'm pretty certain we travelled via Birkenhead Woodside, in which case the train ran via Ruabon, which avoided a reversal a Chester.

There was also a Pen y Chain to Liverpool Lime Street service.

The Cambrian coast line was a busy place on summer Saturdays in 1964. Just a year later, most of these trains have disappeared, with Afon Wen- Caenarvon and Barmouth-Ruabon closing at the end of 1964.

We returned to Butlins, Pwllheli in 1965, but this time going on a coach. I remember the coach stopping at a railway station for refreshments, this was probably Betws y Coed.

In 1966 we went to Butlins, Filey, taking the direct train from Manchester Exchange to Butlin's own terminus at Filey. I've mentioned this already on these forums, expressing my disappointment to not having one of the new Transpenine DMU's, which arrived at the long platform 11, just before the Filey train, which was steam hauled !
 

Killingworth

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Do you know if diesel locomotives travelled this way on specials / Summer Saturday trains before the line closed ?
I note that line closed completely in 1965. I don't recall seeing any diesel hauled services. Stopping trains had ceased in 1954 and my train spotting days had not long after!
 

Gerardtcc

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I note that line closed completely in 1965. I don't recall seeing any diesel hauled services. Stopping trains had ceased in 1954 and my train spotting days had not long after!
Thanks for that, I would imagine there may have been Summer Saturday trains to Bridlington or Scarborough which travelled this way until a year or so before closure to relieve congestion on the alternative routes and this would have coincided with the transition from steam to diesel, so I suppose it is always possible.
 

Czesziafan

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How interesting this all is. Incredible memories and information which shows just how important the railways were, and the extent to which the operators would go to satisfy passenger requirements. You do not get that now. The pattern today seems to be shorter end-to-end through services, with no through services to resorts, and even Awayday specials have disappeared.

We had nothing like the Wakes Weeks in the South, although some big factories did close for a fixed fortnight, when they usually carried out maintenance on machinery and other bits of kit.
 

EbbwJunction1

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We had nothing like the Wakes Weeks in the South, although some big factories did close for a fixed fortnight, when they usually carried out maintenance on machinery and other bits of kit.
The equivalent in Swindon was "Trip Week", when the Railway Works used to shut down for this purpose. Many special trains used to leave from the station and sidings all over the Works for a lot of places in the South West for the same purpose as those in the North.
 

Killingworth

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One of the issues highlighted by Beeching was the tens of thousands of old coaches held in sidings across the country and used on only a very few days a year. I remember a couple of years about 1960/1 when we joined a train of musty old mainline corridor stock in Newcastle, the springs in the seats crushed after years of use.

I think we were hauled by a V2 2-6-2 of the Green Arrow class. We proceeded reasonably quickly to Thirsk but then trundled along the branch line from Thirsk via Gilling to Malton and eventually to Scarborough, avoiding York.

We did that for two years and the second may have been the last year those summer Saturday services ran. The train was long but wasn't heavily laden. After that dad hired a car for summer holidays. Changing times.

Alll those old coaches standing unused for months, then dragged out to creak along little used tracks to keep out-of the way of mainline services. Every compartment with opening windows. Every door with a thick leather strap to lower the window then lean out to open the door from outside. Maintaining all those coaches to be used only a few days a year was economic madness. That Beeching finding was right.
 

Pyreneenguy

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One of the issues highlighted by Beeching was the tens of thousands of old coaches held in sidings across the country and used on only a very few days a year. I remember a couple of years about 1960/1 when we joined a train of musty old mainline corridor stock in Newcastle, the springs in the seats crushed after years of use.

1963 : A short section of the line from Southport ( Butts Lane Jnc ) to Altcar ( Hillhouse Jnc ) was retained for empty stock ( as far as Shirdley Hill ). I remember well, driving out from Birkdale, across 'the moss' and seeing these carriages as we passed over the line on a bridge and wondering why they were there. I don't think my dad had any idea !

The track was lifted in July and August 1964. The two bridges crossing the line are still there but little else remains.
 
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Harvester

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Thanks for that, I would imagine there may have been Summer Saturday trains to Bridlington or Scarborough which travelled this way until a year or so before closure to relieve congestion on the alternative routes and this would have coincided with the transition from steam to diesel, so I suppose it is always possible.
I have seen photographs of diesel hauled Summer Saturday trains at Driffield in 1963, which could have come Market Weighton-Driffield, or Beverley-Driffield. This was probably the last year the Market Weighton branch was used for excursions as it was due to close in June 1964. There was a last minute appeal, which delayed complete closure for a year, but it saw little use, if any, during its final year.
 

billio

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Do you know if diesel locomotives travelled this way on specials / Summer Saturday trains before the line closed ?
'The Railways of Ryedale' by Patric Howat has photographs of diesel locomotives (Class 40) hauling holiday specials through Ryedale (Pilmoor to Malton), fo example Glasgow to Scarborough.

I am not sure if this has been mentioned before but there is a series of books (now out of print I think) from Foxline Publishing entitled 'Journeys by Excursion Train from East Lancashire' by Stuart Taylor. Part One covers Colne to Blackburn, the later ones cover the routes from there to the coast: Southport, Blackpool, Morecambe etc..

My only journey on a Wakes train was probably in 1959 when I travelled to scout camp in Cornwall. Late Friday evening we caught a special train from Bury Bolton Street direct to Penzance. I don't remember too much about the journey, but we went through Shrewsbury, around Hereford, avoided Newport and I think Bristol. The return journey was on a Saturday only train from Penzance to Manchester Exchange, and then an electric to Bury. Owing to some technical problem the train was diverted off the main line before Pontypool Road but I can't really work out the route.
 

Xenophon PCDGS

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From 1980 to 1984, we were members of the British Rail operated Manchester Rail Travel Club, that ran weekend trips to places far afield, which for us from stations in the Manchester area saw unusual long distance runs to places such as Southend and Folkestone. Every so often, the printed monthly itinerary that was posted to us included a "Mystery Tour". My twin sons, aged 8 in 1983, noting one of these was going to a seaside destination, wanted the excitement of travel to a far-off seaside resort they might not have visited before and brought their buckets and spades in carrier bags, to use when we arrived. The train set off with all on board still oblivious to the final destination and it was when the train was passing through Daisy Hill station that the announcement was made that the destination was Largs on the Ayrshire coast. When we arrived, the boys were horrified to see a pebble beach, not a sandy one!!
 
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