Caravan Holidays At Oliver Atkinson Fields Down Holmpton Road

A Memory of Withernsea.

Some of my happiest childhood memories are of the holidays the family spent at Withernsea, staying at my Grandmothers caravan. Her name was Clara Peat and my first visit would have been over 60 years ago. It was the age when most families did not own a car and the only way of getting around was by walking or travelling on the bus. Days out to the seaside were a luxury and all year we would look forward to our week beside the sea which included a trip on a steam train.

Although Withernsea was only 17 miles away from home, the journey seemed very long. Setting out from our prefab down Broadway Drive, Kingston upon Hull, we would walk laden down with cases all the way to Marfleet railway station to catch the train to Withernsea. After a 33 minutes train journey, if we were lucky on our arrival at Withernsea station we might see the train turn around on the turntable before it made the journey back to Paragon Station.

From the station we then had to walk a couple of miles, to a farm down Holmpton Road. The caravan stood with a handfull of others, on the perimeter of a field, situated on the left hand side of the road opposite the farm house. The farm house and fields were owned by Oliver Atkinson.

The caravan had no facilities and was nothing like the luxury vehicles you have today. The field was very rough and the grass came up to my waist and it housed the farmers’ cows. There was a fence around the caravan in an attempt to keep out the cows, which failed on many occasions, so you would often awake to find the cows looking through the windows. Dare I mention it! The toilet was very primitive and in a timber shack next to the caravan which had to be emptied regularly. As a small child I refused to use it, and alternative arrangements were made for me. Yes you’ve guessed...a chamber pot.

There was no electricity, so cooking was done with Calor Gas and the lighting was via gas mantels. All our water had to be collected in enamel buckets from a hand pump situated in front of Olivers Farm by the roadside. When the buckets needed filling it was a good excuse to see the chickens and ducks at the farm.

Holmpton Road runs parallel to the coast line, so to get to the beach we had to cross a couple of fields, avoiding the cow pats if we were lucky, and down the cliff face. People used to cut steps into the clay for easier decent. Sadly those fields and the area were the caravan stood has been claimed by the sea.

The land the van stood on eventually was sold and became the site of Golden Sands Chalet Park. At the end of its life the caravan ended up in the farm yard, used as home to Olivers chickens.

The first thing my brother Stephen and I wanted to do as we got older, after our arrival at the caravan was to walk all the way back into Withernsea with Mum and Dad and see what was on at the cinemas, as this was the only time we could afford to go. I believe the cinemas were called the Kinema and the Cosy. I remember some of the stars of the day appearing on the silver screen including Terry Thomas and Margaret Rutherford. With few street lights, after visiting the cinema on an evening, the walk back to the caravan was magical with the dark being penetrated by the search light from the lighthouse. Back at the caravan I lay awake watching the lighthouse fill the room with its light.

Each day was spent on the beach, often being joined by my aunties and uncles with their families. The days seemed long and the weather fine. The odd wet day we spent playing an assortment of board games in the caravan. On the beach I remember my parents Yola and Raymond Peat buying flags for our sandcastles and jugs of tea to accompany our sandwiches.
As a treat we would all walk down to Redferns Fish and Chip Restaurant to buy our lunch. Redferns was situated on the corner of North Promenade and Seaside Road.
In those days there was always a photographer in the mornings down Seaside Road taking pictures of holidaymakers arriving off the train. People would then return excited in the afternoon to view the pictures after they had been developed.

We had little money and life was simple, but those memories are some of the best and I will never forget them. David Peat

Added 01 March 2014


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