It’s no surprise the kids ended up as staunch clubgoers in later years. Their own experience of life with the ‘club family’ started at an early age and happy memories of the ‘club trip’ were etched into their DNA.
It was regularly a military operation involving scores of coaches heading for the coast depending on size of club and number of children involved.
They were well organised and gave a sense of amazing freedom to the kids that got to roam about a sea resort for the day on their own.
Cleethorpes, Bridlington, Blackpool and Skegness were always popular destinations for many.
Some children might even get to go more than once depending on how many clubs the parents were members of or how many tickets he or she managed to acquire.
Towns and villages could be turned into near ghost towns as hundreds of residents headed for the coast with kids clutching brown bags containing money to be spent on rides, amusements and other seaside-style opportunities.
It wasn’t unheard of for entire trains to be chartered to get the excited hordes to the seaside.
Haydn Anderson: “My dad was a member of one or two of the many Working Men’s Clubs in Attercliffe, Sheffield. He was quite proud of being number two on the membership roll of the Radical Club, or the ‘Rads’ as it was known, which was on Roundel Street, near the bottom of Staniforth Road. Another was the ‘Moulders’ Club, opposite my grandmothers, on Birch Road. Close by was the ‘Non Pots’ or Non Political Club, to give it its full title, at the bottom of Effingham Road.
“During the summer, day trips to the seaside were organised for the children, by the various Working Men’s Clubs, and free tickets allocated to their members. These trips were spaced out through the holiday period and if your father did a lot of ‘networking’ around the local pubs, tickets could also be acquired for many of the clubs that he wasn’t a member of, and you could easily find yourself on three or four club trips. Cleethorpes was the usual destination but Skegness was also a popular choice, and sometimes Mablethorpe would get the vote. Massed coaches left from outside the club, but when going to ‘Skeg’, the train was sometimes used, and this involved an exciting early morning walk up to Darnall Station. Going on the trips always involved checking whether any of your mates were also going or getting extra tickets for one of them to go with you. You each received spending money, free tickets for rides, and a lunch ticket which had to be presented at an allotted time at the Victoria Café, Cleethorpes. You can imagine the scene, with hundreds of kids queuing outside the café. Most of the day would be spent in ‘Wonderland’, a vast corrugated iron structure, full of amusements and where, if you still had any money left, you could quickly lose it in the slot machines. Bearing in mind that there would be many other club trips here, from other towns and cities in the Midlands, and maybe from other areas of Sheffield, and that consequently here would have been hundreds of children in the town, I cannot remember there ever being any trouble. There were always some adults on each of the coaches but imagine what it would be like today. Looking back, these trips were very well organised, and owed a lot to people, who were not well off, and who gave both time and money, so that local kids would get to the seaside at least once in the year.”
Terry Charlton: “As a child I used to go on the annual trip to the seaside on coaches organised by Walkley Working Men’s club.
There was always loads of us. There were never any parents – just a number of adults to help look after us. There’d be bottles of pop, crisps and food all provided free by the club. Thinking back they’d have been paid out of our parents’ subs. It was normally the East Coast visiting the likes of Skegness, Cleethorpes of Bridlington.
There was one year when one of the coaches crashed on the way back. We came back to crowds of anxious looking parents waiting for us. There were no mobile phones then so they only found out what had happened and who had been hurt when we got back. Thank fully there were only minor injuries.”
Dorothy Grey: “I remember the coaches lined all the way up Southey Green Road. After arriving in Cleethorpes we lined up at a restaurant just off the promenade. There we were served fish and chips, then we were given money and a bunch of tickets for the various funfair rides. A label was attached to our clothing indicating our names, and who we were with. We were then let loose on Cleethorpes for a few hours. In all the years I went, I can't remember anyone getting lost, or even being late for the homeward journey. The club trips were brilliant – it was the first time I’d ever been to the seaside!”
Paul Bennett: “We used to go by train to Cleethorpes from Hawthorne club Cantley Doncaster. When we got back kids could stop in the club till 9pm. That was about 40 years ago. Little did I know my now wife of three months used to go on the same trips. Wasn't the same when coaches were used.”
John Whitehouse: “Always Cleethorpes, egg sarmies, stop at Halfway House for pop and crisps while the committee got pissed at the back of the bus. Candyfloss, ice cream then shopping for a plastic tommy gun. Back on the bus, puke up then to bed, so the parents could go to the club. Wouldn't change a thing!!!”
Paul Bretherton: “Free pop and crisps and a fiver from club if your mam and dad were members. Ashtrays on back of bus seats full of sweet wrappers . Happy days.”
Melvyn Thomas: “The most memorable was a trip to Bridlington, an old "Tracky" had been draughted in as there were too many for the coaching company to handle. Part way up the Wolds, the exhaust blew a hole through the floor. We could watch the road, get deafened and choked by diesel fumes all at the same time!”
Julie Mulliss: “Brimington club to Skeggy miners camp. We even got free crisps and pop en route and as kids we even got a 50 shillings pocket money. Great days.”
David Wainwright: “Comrades Club Rugeley’s annual trip to Blackpool. Kids got a goody bag and five pound to spend. This was usually spent 50 minutes up the road at Knutsford Services. Somebody always missed the coach accidentally on purpose.”
Bernard Warner: “Yarborough trip. Always Cleethorpes. Used to be 30 buses - great days.”
* Taken from the 'Dirty Stop Out's Guide to Working Men's Clubs'.