Wakes Week rush for t’sun

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Only another day to go and people from Halifax and surr-ounding districts, rich with something like £2 million, will embark on their Wakes holidays in search of the sun. And this year more than ever are going further afield looking for that elusive element in their home climate.

Well, that sounds about right – and goodness knows we need some sun in our lives this summer. Except that we don’t have Wakes any more, do we?

Well spotted, missus. For those words were written exactly 50 years ago as the Courier looked forward to Wakes Week 1962. And more trippers than you might expect were heading abroad for the sun.

The Courier reported: “One travel agency describes the 1962 Wakes as the ‘best ever’. Costa Brava heads the popularity poll for local people going abroad, followed by Majorca and the Adriatic coast.

“Many others have planned ambitious holidays in the Near East, Greece and North Africa. Popular spots near home are Paris and the Belgian coast, with Jersey once again a fav-ourite and increased book-ings for Northern Ireland and Ireland.” Well, in 1962 the Troubles were still six or seven years in the future.

But, of course, millions of people still had their holidays in dear old Blighty. The Courier reported: “Hebble Motor Services are anticipating a hectic rush period with overnight coaches to the South Coast on Friday and continuing during the weekend with services to the Yorkshire and Lancashire coasts.

“The big rush at Halifax Town station will also start on Friday night. There will be night trains to London and Felixstowe with the popular resorts nearer home well catered for with trains running throughout Saturday.

“Heaviest bookings at the station have been for that old favourite Blackpool, with Skegness and the resorts on the Yorkshire coast popular.”

Naturally on the Saturday it rained. The Courier reported: “Halifax Wakes holiday- makers had a wet send-off as they steamed away in thousands by road and rail.

“Halifax Town station was a hive of activity from about 6am. In all 10 special trains were arranged and the first left Halifax at 6.25am for Liverpool. Within the next few hours trains left for Skegness (200 passengers), Bridlington (250), Llandudno (100) and Scarborough (200). The last special of the day left just before ten o’clock, bound for Blackpool.”

Among the crowds the Dunkirk spirit prevailed. Halifax station master Frank Ashworth, said: “Despite the bad weather I have not seen any signs of bad temper or impatience.”

The Courier continued: “Many of those going away had their pets with them. One of the lucky dogs was three-year-old Smokey, who was off with his master, Joseph Stec, for two weeks beside the sea at Reighton Gap.

“Mr Stec, of Gibbet Street, said :” He loves to come with my wife and me every year and we wouldn’t be without him. He really enjoys playing on the sands and in the sea.”

Older readers will remember when holiday coaches used to leave Halifax by the dozen from beside the old police station in Harrison Road.

On the Friday before Wakes 1962 the exodus started soon after teatime with 18 coaches leaving to travel overnight to Torquay, Bournemouth and other West Country resorts. Later in the evening 10 more coaches left for Yarmouth and the Norfolk Broads.

Two coaches left for Germany, one of them carrying the Halifax Youth Committee’s annual trip to Halifax’s twin town, Aachen. The driver, John Jagger, had made the trip no fewer than 14 times.

On the Saturday morning a staggering 80 coaches left for Blackpool, Scarborough, Filey, Bridlington, Morecambe and Southport.

But it was not a happy Wakes for everyone. The start of the holiday season was marred by a series of crashes in Halifax, including a collision between a van and a Land-Rover in Battinson Road.

A pedestrian was hit by a motor scooter in Ovenden Road and taken to hospital with leg injuries, and a four-year-old boy, Francis Allinson, was hurt when he was hit by a motorcycle at Lee Bridge.

Yet another accident, between an estate car and a shooting brake, occurred in Trimmingham Road and in the town centre a van hit a pedestrian, John Rafter, in Russell Street, leaving him “rather poorly” in hospital with chest and shoulder injuries.

nShare your holiday stories and snaps from years ago. Send them to Nostalgia, Courier, King Cross Street, Halifax, or email them to david.hanson@halifaxcourier.co.uk