Cheap days out at South Shields seafront

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One thing about living at the seaside is that having fun costs nowt.

Or at least it shouldn’t cost anything.

It didn’t years ago, or was, at the most, inexpensive: in fact the possibilities were limited only by your imagination.

A wonderful example of that has reached me from reader Norman McGlasham in Shields.

Norman was very taken with the recent piece on the ‘stone igloos’ that used to be a feature of the South Foreshore, in particular, where they provided little oases of shelter in the lee of the South Pier.

It took Norman’s memory back to the late 1940s-early 1950s, when his was one of several families living in Revesby Street in the town, who would pile on to a trolley bus, packed to the ‘gunnels’ as he says, and headed for the Pier Head and the ‘little beach,’ as the North Foreshore was known then.

The excursion would be for the whole day, sometimes until dark – as late as 10pm on occasion.

“We would be ensconced in our little stone igloos, with a ‘fireplace’ and a nice fire going. It would be very cosy,” he says.

There’d be sandwiches – egg and tomato, or egg and cress (with added sand!).

“There’d be a few makings of tea, and the old kettle for the many brew-ups we had in between dips in the sea,” says Norman.

The latter would be in knitted wool bathing suits, by the way. Says Norman: “They weren’t the most comfortable attire when you stepped ashore looking like a drowned rat.”

Added thrills were furnished by taking to the odd wooden plank, or an old tyre inner tube, in the cold waves. They were all that were required for many hours of fun,” says Norman.

The accompanying picture is a little later in the 1950s than the era Norman is talking about, but it conveys the draw of the seafront at that time.

And look at the number of trip buses.

We were down at the front at the weekend, and there were just four in the car park at the pier yard, though it was gratifying to see that one of them was from Weardale – so nice to see, still, a connection there with the old communities of County Durham.