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Summer holidays remembered at Newarke Houses Museum

Published on Monday, August 23, 2021

Skegness postcard

AN EXHIBITION that celebrates the holiday habits of generations of Leicester people has attracted more than 4,000 visitors since it opened last month.

Featuring everything from day trips to Bradgate Park and weekends in Skegness to exotic holidays in the sun, Wish You Were Here is captivating visitors to Newarke Houses Museum with a light-hearted look at more than 100 years of holidays.

It was back in 1851 when Thomas Cook’s railway excursions to the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace gave 165,000 Midlanders a taste for travel – while the idea of a hard-earned, week-long break at the seaside was pioneered by the cotton workers of Lancashire in the 1870s.

In the 1960s, Leicester’s traditional holiday fortnight – when the city’s factories would close down – was moved from August to July, giving Leicester people the chance to go away to places like Skegness when it was less busy.

By the 1970s, most workers could enjoy two weeks’ paid holiday a year – and while trips to the British seaside were still popular, the rise of air travel meant that many people started looking forward to more exotic trips abroad.

Deputy city mayor Cllr Piara Singh Clair said: “Our holiday destinations may have changed over the years, but some things are just the same.

“Wherever we go, we still look forward to our break, we still enjoy the change of routine, and we still bring back memories that will stay with us forever.

“This exhibition uses souvenirs, postcards, clothing and memorabilia to capture all the joy of a holiday – and if you’re holidaying at home this year, it’s well worth a visit.”

Tomorrow (Tuesday), the museum will host a holiday-themed activity day for its younger visitors to complement the exhibition, with seaside story-telling and lots of arts and crafts.

Places on the morning session (10.30am-12 noon) or the afternoon session (1.30pm-3pm) should be booked in advance by calling the museum on 0116 225 4980. A small charge of £3 applies for craft activities.

Wish You Were Here continues at Leicester’s Newarke Houses Museum until 26 September.

The holiday theme continues at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery, which is currently hosting an exhibition inspired by Thomas Cook – the Victorian travel pioneer whose global business started in Leicestershire.

Round the World with Thomas Cook features items from the museum’s collections and the Thomas Cook Archive.

A rickshaw from Japan, early travel tickets, recent brochures and items never on public display before all help tell the story of Thomas Cook and the business that became one of the most recognised travel companies in the world.

Round the World with Thomas Cook continues at Leicester Museum on New Walk until 14 November.