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School Holidays, early-mid 20th Century

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The seaside in 1940s Britain

I was a young child during the Second World War, and my parents took me to the seaside only on very rare occasions. Presumably my father was on leave from the forces, or perhaps it was shortly after the war. We went because my mother liked the sea air and liked to watch the waves.

Barbed wire beach defences, World War Two, England preventing anyone from going beyond them into the seam 1 of 2

Barbed wire beach defences

Close-up of barbed wire beach defences, World War Two, England preventing anyone from going beyond them into the seam 2 of 2">

Another view of barbed wire beach defences. Both details of screen shots from old films.



Barbed wire preventing wartime children playing on a beach

Children in wartime Britain looking at a beach from behind barbed wire. Detail from a photograph in the D-Day Museum.

Children's decorated metal buckets for playing in the sand, 1930s

Children's decorated metal buckets for playing in the sand, 1930s, i.e. before plastics became commonplace. (There were little or no new toys in the austerity of 1940s wartime Britain.) Photographed in the Brighton Museum of Toys.

However, there was none of the traditional seaside fun for children. The beaches were mined and barbed wire prevented entry.

So there was no hope of making sand castles or paddling.

Once the war ended, it took a number of years to clear the beaches. So young children of my generation never knew what it was like to play on beaches or swim in the sea. Leisure centres, if they existed, were closed for the duration of the war.


If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased if you would contact me.