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Victorian Seaside Holidays

The 1871 Bank Holidays Act declared that certain days throughout the year were official holidays (when banks and offices closed). The speed of railway transport now meant that people could quickly travel to the seaside. Coastal towns like: Blackpool, Scarborough, Llandudno and Brighton quickly grew into popular holiday resorts.

The working classes went there on day trips from the factory towns. Wealthier people went for a week in the summer, staying in hotels or guest houses.

To attract visitors, lots of seaside towns built piers out into the sea. People enjoyed strolling along them to breathe in the fresh, healthy sea air.

Other popular forms of entertainment included:
  • watching Punch and Judy puppet shows;
  • eating an ice cream (sometimes called a hokey pokey);
  • riding on donkeys;
  • building sandcastles on the beach with a bucket and spade;
  • eating fish and chips;
  • watching variety acts at a music hall such as: singers, dancers or comedians.

Not many people could swim in the Victorian period – they could only paddle. Rich people paid to get changed in wooden huts called bathing machines which were then taken into the sea by a horse. A lot of people didn’t own their own costumes and had to hire them.