Fringe Box



A Trip To The Seaside

Published on: 27 Feb, 2012
Updated on: 27 Feb, 2012

by David Rose

Have you been through the new Hindhead Tunnel on the A3? It certainly cuts the journey time to Pompey and the seaside.

Travelling through the tunnel the other day for the first time got me thinking about day trips to the coast in years gone by.

For many, during the pre- and post-war years, an outing to the seaside was most often with friends and relatives on an organised trip. It was usually with the annual works or social club outing. These were the days before the average family had its own transport.

Members of Woodbridge Hill Workingmen’s Club on an excursion in about the 1930s. What’s on top of the man’s head, sixth from the left?

The day itself would have been eagerly anticipated weeks in advance. And come the day, young and old alike would have awoken in the hope that the weather was fair.

But even if it was raining, the trip went ahead and you had the make the most of it. A spot of rain wasn’t going to spoil things when you reached that seaside destination that had plenty of things on offer and all in good company.

And in what numbers! In days gone by Woodbridge Hill Working Men’s Club in Aldershot Road, Guildford, would lay on up to a dozen motor coaches to take its members and their families to the seaside, with Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Brighton, Eastbourne, Southsea, and so on, being some of the most popular destinations.

This group has arrived at the seaside courtesy of Yellow Bus Services that was based in Worplesdon Road, Stoughton. Dig the pushchair and the sensible hats!

Bernard Parke recalls similar coach trips he went on when he was a boy. “The first staging post to the coast was the top of Bury Hill in West Sussex. This had to be a stop as the coaches needed to cool down from the climb, unbelievable by today’s standards.

“The time spent on Bury Hill was taken up with a short game of either football or cricket, before the coaches turned either one way for Bognor, or the other for Littlehampton.

“We normally arrived at about 11.30am and quickly disembarked for the beach where bodies were contorted behind an assortment of towels in valiant effort to adorn ourselves in bathing costumes.

Guildford people on an outing to the seaside in the 1950s. Judging by the clothing, it doesn’t appear to be hot weather. The boys look rather smart but today would be regarded most overdressed for a day of leisure! More like a first job interview.

“The water was embraced with great enthusiasm, no matter what its temperature.

Golden Arrow was a coach firm from Wood Street Village. It later amalgamated with Crouch & Co’s coaches from Stoughton Road, Guildford.

“Sandwiches would be produced which, as a result of the journey, would be flattened. If we were lucky, a bottle of Tizer would be available.

“Speed-boat trips were available at the end of the pier at 2/6 (13p) per trip. This was way above our spending money, which would probably stretch to the penny machines at the Butlin’s Amusement Arcade.

“The coach would leave for home at about 6pm, and with luck, would stop at a pub, which meant a glass of lemonade for us children.

“The driver would always wear a collar and tie and, even if he was not in uniform, a peak cap. This was politely asked for on the return trip and passed among the passengers for some mark of their favour.

On the beach at Littlehampton in the 1920s or 30s.
This photo comes from the archives at Woodbridge Hill Club and must date to about the 1920s. I am not sure of the location, but it could be Woodbridge Road, Guildford. Why the charbancs stopped there is anyone’s guess. There appears to be a convoy of vehicles heading for the coast. My grandfather was a founder member of the club that dates back to about this time. He may even be in the photo, but I have not been able to identify him.

“There was no scare of skin cancer in those days; indeed there was no sun-tan lotion.

“Burned skin would probably be treated with Milk of Magnesia, and after a few days go brown which was sported as a pleasing memory of our South Coast adventure.”

Clubs such as Woodbridge Hill Working Men’s not only had an annual outing for members and their families, but a members’ only outing as well.

This was often a much more boozy affair. Crates of beer would be loaded on to the coach for the journey down (most likely Guildford’s Friary Ales) and I guess most of the men spent the day touring the pubs of whatever seaside town they visited.

Another picture of members of Woodbridge Hill Workingmen’s Club. Everyone appears to be wearing a collar and tie and most have a flower in the lapel of their jacket.

In days gone by, Guildford had a number of bus and coach firms whose vehicles were hired for day trips. And of course, some of these companies also offered day and even half-day excursion trips to the coast during the summer months.

Firms included Blue Saloon, Yellow Bus Services, Crouch’s Coaches, Golden Arrow, and Safeguard; the latter being a coach firm that was established in 1924 and still going strong today.

Have you any memories of similar coach trips, or any old photographs? If so, please email details to me, David Rose, at

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Responses to A Trip To The Seaside

  1. Gwyneth Laughlin

    August 3, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Referring to the 6th photograph (Woodbridge Hill Club) and possible location, in the background it looks like the office of Weller Son & Grinsted, Auctioneers. I worked there 1956-1967. Buses stopped outside and the turning to the left of the 3rd charabanc was College Road – then a cul-de-sac!