Sunday School Outings in The 1950s
Annual Outing to Walton on the Naze from Upshire in Essex.
In the early days we travelled by train from Waltham Cross, one train picking children up from stations along the line and taking us all out for the day to Walton. In the later years it would a coach or double-decker bus from the Princesfield Estate at the top of the lane leading to the Gospel Hall. The outing was the highlight of the year for many children, as apart from the outing they would never have seen the seaside. We would leave the Hall at 8am. Each child would bring their own lunch, which was normally eaten on the train or bus before we got to Walton. We stopped at the “Halfway” café for toilets and refreshments, then travelled onto Walton where we would meet up with hundreds of other children all out for their Sunday School Outings too.
Children and adults herded together to the nearest beach and then deck chairs were purchased and the adults would settle down for the day. Dads would roll up their trousers, undo their shirt necks, put their hats on and settle back for a nap. Mums would get the children changed into swimwear and then settle back with a good magazine. Us children would be in and out of the sea all day if it was fine, but if it was wet we normally went and sat under the pier or by the breakwaters and using umbrella and plastic sheeting would make the most of a wet day. Some of the children came with lots of money and, with a watchful adult, would spend lots of it on the penny slot machines on the pier or go onto the fairground. At 3.30pm we would start to pack up and move from the beach to the pier where we would go into the Pier Restaurant. The restaurant had long trestle tables laid out with paper cloths, plates, knives and spoons, cup and saucer for adults and plastic beakers for children, there we would all sit down to a “high tea” . We enjoyed white sandwiches, then cakes and ice-cream to finish off. Tea and coffee was served from large urns on every table and squash in jugs was passed along the table for us children. It was really fun having tea here as we could see the sea beneath our table through the cracks in between the wooden floor boards, and listen to it lapping round the supports of the pier. Once tea was over there was normally time to go on the amusements, which included the Hall of Mirrors, Ghost Train, Bumper Cars, Catch a Duck, Throw a Penny, Coconut Shy, The Big Wheel or a trip up the pier on the small steam train. The Coaches all left Walton at 5.30pm. To me as a child looking at the sea as we were going home, the waves always seemed to be gentle and inviting and I always felt that I was leaving the best behind. The coach trip home was normally uneventful as most children would be fast asleep before we reached the Half Way House, and soon we would all tumble out of the coach to the waiting mums and dads on the Princesfield Estate at Upshire.
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