Today Secrets of the Sandpit is pleased to provide you with a unique glimpse of summers on the beach in Wales in the 1960s. This post was written by my amazing mother in law.
Whilst recently having a family picnic on a sandy beach in South Wales I was reminded of my favourite summer job when I was a student in the sixties.
I lived in a small seaside town in South Wales and the council employed a number of young college students to work at the seaside. My brother had the job of hiring out deckchairs during the wettest summer for years and after two weeks relentless rain where he had not sold a single deckchair ticket he was laid off and was only employed for the occasional few sunny days during the rest of the season.
I had better luck the year I was employed to care for any lost children on the beach. It was a glorious summer. We were stationed to the rear of the first aid post with an assortment of toys and books and a nice shady area where the children could play until they were claimed by mostly grateful parents. We had a loudspeaker system which broadcast the name and description of each ‘lost’ child along the promenade.
There were a number of other students acting as lifeguards, deckchair hirers, first aiders and a couple of lads who were supposed to empty litter bins and keep the beach clear of rubbish. They spent most of their days riding up and down the promenade in an old land rover trying to look busy.
When I had no lost children to look after I would help out on the first aid post as I had a first aid certificate; we were busy applying sticking plaster to cut knees and grazed elbows one day when a lad came into the room looking rather pale as he had a fish hook stuck in his hand. This was a hospital emergency so the lads in the land rover sprang into action and rushed me and the afflicted lad and his parents to the nearby cottage hospital for the doctors to remove the fish hook.
The lady in charge of the fist aid post had a great fondness for a nice cup of tea and also had an endless supply of home made cake so we all needed reviving by her on our return from the hospital.
Our busiest days at the seaside were the days when coaches of day trippers came down from the valleys for their breath of sea air and a taste of fish and chips. Their children were more likely to get lost as they were not used to being disorientated by the sea and the tide as it crept up and down the sand.
Fortunately the coach drivers always pointed out the place to find lost children or receive first aid so we occasionally had an anxious mother arrive before her offspring had found its way to me in the lost children’s garden.
However we did have a few regular customers who mysteriously got lost just as the pub opened and would remain lost for about an hour while their parents had surreptitiously gone for a drink! I found the best way to flush them out was to announce to the beach at large ‘for the last hour little Johnny Jones and his tiny sister who is crying inconsolably have been waiting at the Lost Children’s Garden.’ Their red faced parents would soon appear to find said Johnny and his little sister enjoying a piece of the first aider’s cake and some orange squash!
It was a happy summer when the sun always seemed to shine, when I did the most enjoyable holiday job of my student days.