Summer holidays

7th July 2006 at 01:00
End-of-term assemblies can either focus on the past school year or celebrate the coming holiday.

Outline script for assembly leader

Imagine a holiday advertisement that promised that no more than seven people would have to share a bed. A hotel where you paid extra for salt, pepper and brown sauce. One where children were told to sleep in the cellar in a hammock made out of old carpet - and charged extra because that was the coolest part of the house.

You could expect all this if you went on holiday to Blackpool 150 years ago. The first railway reached the town in 1846 and soon holiday excursions by train were being organised at cheap prices. A return ticket from the Lancashire town of Blackburn to Blackpool cost one shilling (5p). Special excursion trains were run to different resorts from the Midlands, organised by a businessman called Thomas Cook. Others were organised by city churches.

Some people were able to stay longer than a day. Most of these holidaymakers rented rooms in boarding houses. Landladies cooked food bought by the visitors - and charged for condiments. They also made money by selling jugs of hot water so people could make pots of tea on the beach.

In many towns, men and women had to bathe on separate beaches. Women wore heavy bathing dresses with long skirts while swimming; most men wore nothing.

The seaside resorts were particularly crowded on August Bank Holiday (originally the first Monday in August). It was nicknamed St Lubbock's Day, because it was created in 1871 after agitation by Sir John Lubbock MP who campaigned for the rights of shop workers. Only after the Second World War did it became common for workers to have two weeks paid holiday each summer. Now we expect a long summer holiday as a right, but 200 years ago country children had to spend the weeks helping with the harvest. Even 60 years ago many schoolchildren were made to spend the summer picking fruit.

Follow-up

Create a montage or poster celebrating summer holidays.

Survey pupils' holiday expectations and dreams. Compare and contrast. Those returning in September might express their good wishes to leavers. Leavers could devise their own assembly and present it to younger pupils, giving thanks "for what we have received" over their school careers.

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