I’ve been blogging about firsts this week. I was just thinking back to the first holiday I remember which would have been to Porthcawl. I remember others around the same time to Ramsgate and Bournemouth with my grandparents, but there was something very Welsh about going to Porthcawl which was reputed to have the largest caravan park in Europe.
In the days when my grandparents owned their own caravan at Sandy or Trecco Bay, it was little more than a few lines of caravans without all the extras. But later, when I got to go there with my brother and parents, when it was quite usual then to rent one from someone you knew or from a newspaper advert, the place had grown considerably. There was Newton Bay, Sandy Bay and Trecco Bay.
I remember a cinema there that showed, ‘The Battle of Britain’ and other known movies of the day. There was a complex of shops and a place to rent out bikes, some were like two bikes welded together, some with a canopy overhead, I used to love those. Me and my brother would hire one out, I think only one of us got to steer though, so it was probably him and if he pedalled fast enough I’d have to take my feet off the pedals as he was going too fast for me to keep up with.
There were no showers or toilets in caravans back then, you had to go this toilet and shower block. Don’t remember having any electricity in the caravans either, they were run on Calor gas.
I remember long days with picnics on the beach, visits to the pleasure park, called, Coney Beach, which had a Water Chute as its main attraction. People would stand at the bottom waiting to get soaked as several carriages thundered down a steep track into a big pool of water.
One time there was a special competition on the beach. All the children were encouraged to dig for ‘treasure’ in the sand. The treasure turned out to be free entry to the pleasure park to go on several rides. My brother, who was probably only about nine-years-old at the time, maybe younger, won the set of tickets. I remember him choosing to go on this ride that was like two rockets suspended upside down and not suitable for young children at all!! But he was allowed on there and loved it.
There was a hall of mirrors at the pleasure park where you could see yourself very fat and wide or very tall and thin, we’d stand there laughing at one another. Also the glass maze, where we kept bumping into panes of glass.
The Ghost Train was a scream with it’s dangling cobwebs down dark run ways where ghosts and ghoulies popped out and shrieked and wailed. It you were constipated before you weren’t afterwards!
Sticks of candy floss and coloured rock were very popular back then but very bad for the teeth!
Oh happy days when life was simple and Porthcawl caravan park was somewhere we went during factory fortnight and the miners’ holidays. I can still remember the sound of the seagulls on top of the caravan and the rain on the roof. It rained a lot but strangely, most of my memories are of sunny days and blue skies…