CAN you imagine more than 4,000 people descending in one go on the seafront at Shields, all to be fed and watered?
It was a challenge accomplished with extraordinary efficiency, long before there were such things as phones or motor transport to assist.
It was dubbed The Monstre (sic) Trip to South Shields, when 3,000 poor children and 1,000 aged poor, from Newcastle, were brought to enjoy a day at the seaside.
What is also astonishing (shocking?) is that, at either end of the journey, people turned out in their own thousands to witness the spectacle.
I came across the ‘monstre trip,’ the other day, rooting around in 1886.
It was organised by a charitable concern in Newcastle, the children and ‘aged poor’ parading from muster points, such as the city’s Haymarket, down to the quayside, to board nine vessels of the Tyne General Ferry Company.
Crowds lined the streets to see them, distinctive as they were, with rosettes and banners. Once at Shields, they found huge tents set up in the (South?) Marine Park, which had been equipped with boilers etc for making tea. Bands played, and amusement provided by the cast of a show, Human Nature, from the Theatre Royal in King Street. Extraordinary!