Daytrips to paradise - Childhood memories of Ainsdale
PUBLISHED: 17:09 25 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:57 20 February 2013
Lancastrian Jean Hill shares her childhood memories of fun with family and friends on Ainsdale beach
Were off, were off, were off in a motor car and sixty coppers are after us and they dont know where we are. These words were sung by us as young children as we were driven by my father in the family car to Ainsdale Beach.
It was blessed with large sand hills along miles of shoreline and was, for me, paradise. We would go there on day trips from Manchester most summers during the 1950s.
Our car may have been on its last legs, with a tendency to break down, but it was very spacious inside and this allowed my father to insert a small bench between the front and back seats.
Along with myself, parents, and younger brother and sister, the car with the addition of the bench was able to hold several more passengers. This was duly filled with our childhood friends who joined us regularly on our trips.
We all lived in Douglas Grove, a small terraced street situated in one of the poorer parts of Manchester. The street comprised 22 terraced houses and most of the families had lived there for years. It was a tight-knit community where strong friendships were formed.
Although the 1950s was a time when most people were in employment there was little money to spare and most families in Douglas Grove were unable to lifeafford annual holidays or to own cars. My parents were happy to include our friends and their parents were happy for their children to join us, not being overly concerned with the risks but just pleased they would have a pleasurable day out.
We were regularly joined by friends Christopher, Anne, Christine, Michael, Peter and Jacky. Sundays were usually the favoured day for the trip and we would all assemble early in the morning, file into the car, and when ready to set off we would give a big cheer. Spirits were very high and we would soon begin to sing our songs, tell our jokes and play I Spy.
Time passed quickly. We were full of gaiety and looking forward to the day ahead. A treat on our 50-mile journey was the halfway stop at Carmelle cafe on the East Lancs road. This was a transport cafe for lorry drivers and it was there that my parents ensured that we all had lemonade and crisps.
When we drove over the level crossing at Ainsdale we knew that the seashore was upon us and our spirits rose even higher at the prospect of the day ahead.
My father would drive the car onto the beach and park on a quiet part of the shore. On decanting we would immediately rush to the nearby sand hills, having first removed our shoes and socks to savour the warm sand beneath our feet. After finding a sheltered spot, food, blankets, bats and balls would be laid out whilst we children would chase one another up the sand hills to great laughter.
My parent insisted on a few basic rules but they did have a light touch and we were given much freedom. We would play rounders, hide-and-seek and other games but the day was never complete without going to the sea where we would paddle or at least make a show of trying to swim. If the tide was out we would comb the shore for sea shells and then compare our finds.
A favourite activity was a collective effort making complex sand castles surrounded by moats which required some of us to regularly make trips to fill our buckets with sea water. My younger brother would also regularly dig deep trenches or attempt to half bury my father sometimes aided by the others.
In the early evening my parents would signal the need to prepare for home. After hours of fun and pleasure we were usually ready for the return. Although tired we were relaxed and contented. Decades on, the memories of the joy and pleasure of those trips remain with me. I appreciate, too, the great generosity of spirit shown by my parents in giving the children of Douglas Grove the opportunity to have a wonderful time which they would not have otherwise had.
It is said that God looks kindly on the righteous and I think this must have been the case on our trips to Ainsdale - our extremely temperamental car never broke down once!
Jean Hill was born in Manchester in 1948 and is the eldest of three. In her late 20s she left teaching and joined Greater Manchester Probation Service firstly as a community service officer and eventually as a probation officer. She is now retired and is currently living with her partner Keith in Surrey. She remains connected to the north west where her mother, son and granddaughter still live.
A LANCASHIRE CHILDHOOD
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The print version of this article appeared in the February 2012 issue of Lancashire Life
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