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Modern Times: 1950s to The Present Day

Culture and Leisure


By Alistair Durie

Waverley After the Second World War, demand for holidays was high and, despite the problems of rationing, transport and rundown facilities, Glasgow holidaymakers soon recovered their pre-war enthusiasm. The early 1950s were bumper years for going "doon the watter" to the Firth of Clyde. To the traditional types of holiday at the beach were added the new holiday camps where a full programme of entertainment was laid on for adults and children alike. The first of these was Billy Butlin's Heads of Ayr camp which opened in 1947. While in imitation of the Broons characters of the Sunday Post cartoon strip some people had their "but and ben" in the countryside, caravanning was another activity on the rise: by the early 1970s (and much to the disgust of the landladies whose custom was threatened) every resort had its caravan site.

Glasgow Airport But the old loyalties were weakening; Glasgow folk of all classes began to look further afield for their main holiday to places where the sun was more certain. Blackpool continued to do well, but first it was resorts in Devon and Cornwall that prospered although at the cost to the Scottish holidaymaker of a long drive or coach trip with many traffic jams. Then the arrival of cheap air travel to the Mediterranean in the early 1960s sealed the fate of the Clyde resorts. Those who could afford it, and an increasing number could, turned their backs on Scotland.

Holiday Centre The opening of Glasgow Airport to direct transatlantic services only worsened the position of traditional local tourist haunts. While American tourists came to Glasgow, the City of Culture, far more Glaswegians took off for Florida. There are still strengths to home tourism, such as golf and heritage, but Glasgow holidaymakers – given the choice - now look abroad.

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