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No Mean City: 1914 to 1950s

Culture and Leisure


By Alistair Durie

Railway timetable By the early 20th century, having a holiday was high on the agenda of every family in Glasgow. How far they went, and for how long, was primarily shaped by how much money and time they had as paid holidays were not commonplace until legislation was passed in the late 1930s. But even for those with limited means there were ways of getting to the coast or inland. There were works outings, Sunday school trips, scout and guide camps, or the Education Department's camps for "necessitous" children.

Elcho Street Rambling Club The best-off had the most choice; they might go to a "hydro" or to the Continent, but many opted for taking houses on Arran or elsewhere on the Firth of Clyde for the summer with father commuting back to Glasgow on Monday mornings. People of moderate resources found guest house or apartment accommodation for a week; the working class crammed into tenement rooms and lodgings for a few days sleeping the "Rothesay way" - across the bed like sardines, and loyally returning year after year: "It's July so it must be Ayr" was a common experience.

Rothesay Entertainers 1924 The resorts offered wonderful entertainment; at Dunoon Pavilion in the 1920s, holidaymakers could hear John McCormack and Jack Buchanan. Bands, dances, singing parties, and beach amusements helped to make the time pass all too quickly. Bus services were also heavily in demand and the mystery tour was a feature of many a guild outing. For the young and fit there was also cycling on summer evenings or camping. The peak of the season was the Glasgow Fair and even in the early 1930s during the Depression the numbers heading for the Clyde coast or Fife or for English resorts such as Blackpool were astonishing.

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