For our Mining Blog this week we are sharing a wonderful account of a visit to Skeggy Miners Holiday Camp by Eric Eaton in the early 1950s.
I spent a few holidays at Skegness Miners Holiday Camp, in my childhood with my family, Mam, Dad, brothers and sisters, and I had some holidays there in my teens as well. I must have been 16/17 and my first holiday on my own with an elder brother; it was the first time I had ever been drunk.
I remember as a child going to the top of Ilkeston across from the market and seeing about a dozen buses parked there, all filling up with miners and their families; it was the annual week at Skeggy for Cossell Colliery and we were off on our holidays! On the buses we had entertainment from two entertainers from the Holiday Camp, I can only remember one of their first names which was Mick ?
“ARE WE THERE YET” was the cry just as we got out of Ilkeston,
“NOT YET” was the response,
“KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR THE WIND MILL AND THEN WE ARE NEARLY THERE”.
And then we would arrive and there were hundreds of people at reception all trying to get their children booked into the dormitories and to book their Chalet for themselves. All the grown ups were allocated a Chalet and most of the children were allocated a bed in a dormitory.
The photo (above) is of me in the dormitory aged about 6/7.
We had three meals a day; breakfast, dinner and tea in the big dining room and were served by waitresses (first time ever being served by someone) and for a tanner you could get a fish and chip supper at night in the dining room, but if you didn’t fancy having your supper in the Camp you could always walk to the top of the road and get your fish and chips from the Linger Longer chip shop. (which the last time I was in Skegness was still there)
There was always something to do, entertainment was provided in the theatre every afternoon and evening with knobbly knee, strong men, singing, dancing competitions, and outside there would be Donkey Derby, egg and spoon races, sack races, boat races, there was a paddling pool, swimming pool which was outdoor and very, very cold, roller skating rink, donkeys on the beach, horses to ride, miles of sand to play in, fair rides, all included in the holiday price. You wanted for nothing!
My father paid for our holiday through stoppages out of his wages and therefore had nothing to pay when we arrived (apart from for beer). I remember the first time we went, my Mam and Dad both smoked at that time and I can remember my Dad buying 200 Park Drive to last them through the week. He said
“Skegness is a long way and we don’t know if they have Park Drive there so I’m taking 200 with me”
The first time we went to Skegness was like going to another country for us as we had never been on holiday before, Mam and Dad never ventured far from Ilkeston so it was a new experience for all of us, it was our family’s first holiday, and we had many more after that at Skeggy Miners’ Camp.
We spent some great holidays at the Miners Camp in Skegness, and I have some great memories, I just wonder about the miners in the Union who had the forsight to operate and run holidays for coalminers. It just goes to show what working people can do when they are left to their own devices, and this in the early fifties just after the war.
All gone now, and the country and the miners left are the poorer for it.