Holiday revolution: We’re all going on a summer holiday

Eighty summers ago, thousands of working-class Britons got their very first tastes of sun, sea and sand, courtesy of the 1938 Holidays with Pay Act. Kathryn Ferry chronicles the fraught birth of a holidaymaking revolution

Crowds flock to the beach at Hastings in August 1938. (Photo by Photo12/UIG/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the August 2018 edition of BBC History Magazine

In August 1938, a Coventry factory worker took his family on a holiday to the British seaside. To the 21st-century mind, there’s nothing particularly extraordinary about this. But to this particular worker, 80 summers ago, it was a cause for celebration. For he was among the first cohort of workers to take advantage of Britain’s brand new Holidays with Pay Act. So enthused was he by the experience that he wrote to his local newspaper, the Midland Daily Telegraph, to tell them all about it. He didn’t give his name, content to sign himself ‘Sunburned’.

Want to read more?

Become a BBC History Magazine subscriber today to unlock all premium articles in The Library

Unlock now