Northern holiday special trains

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Czesziafan

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I saw an interesting feature on BBC North West about the so-called Wakes Weeks - the complete shutdown of towns in the North West for the summer holiday fortnight during the 1950's. It showed shots of a train of ex-LMS stock leaving Blackburn crammed to the cant rails with holidaymakers. Does anyone know what the destinations of these trains were please? Presumably Blackpool was one, but did they go further afield: the West Country, South Coast or Scotland for instance? I assume these were not timetabled services but I might be wrong on that.
 
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krus_aragon

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There were MANY trains each week, from various towns, and headed for numerous different resorts. They typically went to a selection of the nearest coastal resorts. e.g. Lancashire towns would go to nearby places like Blackpool, whereas the Potteries might head for North Wales instead. That's not an absolute, by any means, and there'd be some trains from Lancashire headed for Rhyl and Llandudno too. I don't know if there were many trains crossing the Pennines to get to the coast, but I'd assume not.

I think your best hope of a list of destinations from a particular location, other than old Weekly Operating Notices (or their equivalent at the time), is to look for local newspaper articles from the period. As Wakes Week was such a big event, there'd be some reports on what was going on, and where.
 

MontyP

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There were MANY trains each week, from various towns, and headed for numerous different resorts. They typically went to a selection of the nearest coastal resorts. e.g. Lancashire towns would go to nearby places like Blackpool, whereas the Potteries might head for North Wales instead. That's not an absolute, by any means, and there'd be some trains from Lancashire headed for Rhyl and Llandudno too. I don't know if there were many trains crossing the Pennines to get to the coast, but I'd assume not.

I think your best hope of a list of destinations from a particular location, other than old Weekly Operating Notices (or their equivalent at the time), is to look for local newspaper articles from the period. As Wakes Week was such a big event, there'd be some reports on what was going on, and where.
I think the traditional destination for mill workers from Bradford was Morecambe - an exotic trip to a different county!
 

krus_aragon

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Here's an article reprinted in the Cardiff Times in 1902 (local newspapers often reprinted articles from other regions):

LANCASHIRE "WAKES." I The celebration of the Lancashire wakes," or annual holidays, commenced on Saturday, when thousands of workpeople drew the savings of a year and left the scenes of their labours for a brief spell of enjoyment at the seaside. At Blackburn, the chief weaving centre of Lancashire, the mills stopped for a week. Fourteen excursion trains and seven ordinary trains, closely packed with merry holiday-makers, left the station between fi o'clock and noon, the principal destination being Blackpool, though Wales and the Isle of Man were also popular. The local savings bank paid oat X25,000, the Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Club £11,000, the Yorkshire Penny Bank ₤4,000, and the Post Office and co-operative societies ₤5,000 each. At Bury the holiday will continue until Thursday morning at most places, while some works will not resume until the Monday following. Blackpool is the favourite resort of Bury excursionists at the Wakes holi- days, but a large number also patronise Douglas, Fleetwood, and Morecambe. Large sums were disbursed from the various holiday savings clubs, ₤1,480 having been distributed at the Wellington Mill, £ 1,504 at the Britannia Mill, and £465 at the Tenterden-street Baptist Chapel. At Stock- port the majority of the mills of the town closed for the whole of next week, instead of the usual two or three days, in consequence of the depressed state of the cotton trade..Many of the savings clubs have not been formed this year.

Another article in the Cambrian covers an outing from Oldham to Swansea (via the LNWR route):
Oldham Wakes. Early on Saturday morning the incursion of Oldham "wakers" into Swansea com- menced, the first contingent- arriving on the London and North-Western system, to the number of over 200. A second train-load was due to arrive in the afternoon. A good proportion of the visitors made for the Mumbles, but the majority visited the Swansea | Docks and town. There will be plenty of amusement in the town for the visitors— the miners demonstration with its bands, the brass band competition at the Mumbles. regatta and charity carnival next week (until which time they stay), and the usual iocai theatres and music-hall entertainments. The excursionists hail from factory districts of Denton, Ashton, Greenfield, Grotton. and Springfield, and are favoured with fine wea- ther. Oldham commenced its annual "wakes." or I holidays, oil Friday, and despite bad trade and decreased earnings the bulk of the people will leave "Spindledom" for the next week | or ten days. It is computed that the amount distributed by the savings clubs w. not be I far short of £ 150,000. Yesterday 189 clubs I paid out £ 98,392. In 1902 161 clubs distri- buted £94.690. This year thirteen mills and i works savings clubs shared £ 17.110. fifty- five societies and' social and political clubs ₤329,558, and clubs at 101 public-houses £ 40,575. Messrs. Piatt Brothers' club dis- tributed ₤7,000, the same amount as last year. while Messrs. Lees and Co.. paid out £3.000. in previous years, when work has been good, the aggregate distribution has been placed at £ 5500,000.
https://newspapers.library.wales/view/3346907/3346910/42/wakes week


(these are quick cut-pastes of the OCR of the original print articles, see the links for original pictures to decode any confusing transcriptions)
 

30907

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A lot of the traffic was relatively local day excursions and might even run from closed stations (e.g. my onetime home of Great Harwood had excursions to Blackpool for 7-8 years after closure); non-corridor stock had interesting consequences on the return trip :)

There were, though, much longer distance services - e.g. Lancashire to Torbay, with the origin towns varying from week to week (and I imagine occupying much the same paths further south).
(The 1959 WTT for the MR approaches to Bristol doesn't have any Q "as required" paths, so the timings must have been published from week to week - or on occasion it is recorded that trains were run without a specific timetable, because there was no path; in practice something or everything would run so late that another train could be squeezed through... @Taunton, any comments?)
 

UrieS15

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This seems a suitable place to pop in a piece of trivia I discovered a few years ago when researching back numbers of the Halifax papers. Some of you will recall that for many years Malton was a major nightmare for road travellers heading for the coast, because it was beset with level crossings. At least one Halifax paper actually published times of closure of the level crossing at Malton so that motorists could plan accordingly, such was the weight of rail traffic.

I think the traditional destination for mill workers from Bradford was Morecambe - an exotic trip to a different county!
I came to Bradford late (1969) but it certainly remained true that not only Bradford but the smaller towns further up Airedale favoured the Lancashire coast. Holidays were booked for the following year before the end of the current one to ensure the same accommodation, and I can recall the total chaos that ensued inside my factory when the BingleY Guardian published the wrong dates for 'shut down weeks'. Morecambe and Blackpool with the well-to-do going to Grange over Sands. Leeds in contrast favoured Scarboro/ Filey/ Brid.
 
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6Gman

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There were, though, much longer distance services - e.g. Lancashire to Torbay, with the origin towns varying from week to week (and I imagine occupying much the same paths further south).
Some trains were pathed from the resort to a key location and would then be extended as necessary in the weekly notice.

For example there might be a timetabled Llandudno - Warrington path which would never actually terminate at Warrington! Instead it would be extended to wherever had the Wakes week/fortnight ending that day.

Along the lines of (and these are just examples off the top of my head):

Sat 4 July 0930 Llo-Warrington extended to Rochdale
Sat 11 July 0930 Llo-Warrington extended to Bolton
Sat 18 July 0930 Llo-Warrington extended to Accrington

and so on.

Pretty sure there was an overnight Manchester Victoria-Paignton which started back variously in a similar way.
 

chorleyjeff

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I think the traditional destination for mill workers from Bradford was Morecambe - an exotic trip to a different county!
Indeed yes. Used to go to Hellifield to see exotic Midland locos including Midland 4Fs making a lot of lovely noise and fuss taking Yorkshire folk to exotic Bradford by the Sea. Whereas at Preston it was numerous L&Y crabs dragging folk in non corridor coaches to Blackpool from Manchester area towns.
 

30907

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I came to Bradford late (1969) but it certainly remained true that not only Bradford but the smaller towns further up Airedale favoured the Lancashire coast.
Still do - at least for Monday to Friday breaks, you can spot them on Shipley (etc).
Morecambe and Blackpool with the well-to-do going to Grange over Sands. Leeds in contrast favoured Scarboro/ Filey/ Brid.
Airedale (MR/LMS) never AFAIK had direct trains to the East Coast (NER/LNER) - Bradford Exchange did though, into the 70s (and more recently when there was a Blackpool-Scarborough).
 

52290

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My parents traveled on an overnight wakes week through train from Leyland to Eastbourne in the 1960's. Eastbourne was one of their favourite destinations and they were sorry when BR pulled the plug on the train. They then went by scheduled trains via London. I think the hotel they stayed in was owned by my dad's trade union.
 

randyrippley

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Blackpool & Morecambe also got significant wakes traffic from Glasgow - some of which came by coach/bus. The municipal bus companies ran a joint service at weekends, with anything in the fleet pressed into service. It's one reason LCT bought DPVs for stage service in the 1970s- including the three DPV double deckers. LCT buses still had Edinburgh and Glasgow available as headboard options right up until they closed
 

Taunton

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A lot of the traffic was relatively local day excursions and might even run from closed stations (e.g. my onetime home of Great Harwood had excursions to Blackpool for 7-8 years after closure); non-corridor stock had interesting consequences on the return trip :)

There were, though, much longer distance services - e.g. Lancashire to Torbay, with the origin towns varying from week to week (and I imagine occupying much the same paths further south).
(The 1959 WTT for the MR approaches to Bristol doesn't have any Q "as required" paths, so the timings must have been published from week to week - or on occasion it is recorded that trains were run without a specific timetable, because there was no path; in practice something or everything would run so late that another train could be squeezed through... @Taunton, any comments?)
I think different regions had different practices for planning and timetabling oddball extras in advance (seemed more an LMS thing) or running them on the day on control orders (GWR past practice). There were certainly odd holiday services from obscure places, particularly East Lancashire#, where the tradition of all the industries in a town shutting down in the same week persevered. They generally went just to the mainstream destinations like Paignton. The South-West does not have the mega resorts like Blackpool, they are more spread around the coast. I do remember obscure trains of old LMS Stanier-era stock stuck for an extended period in the Taunton Down Relief platform, sometimes engineless for a while. An "extra" could be anything, a relief, a special from a town, etc.

In steam days the "get me out of jail" loco was a Grange, when diesels came along the bottom of the barrel was 2xD63xx in multiple. Even after dieselisation there was still a use for old GWR "B Set" non corridor vehicles, which for the rest of the week (and indeed year) used to live on the Up side sidings west of Taunton station, but were dug out in 6 or 8 coach sets with a Hymek to completely take over the Minehead and Barnstaple services, while the dmus disappeared elsewhere to also form long sets to the likes of Weymouth or Kingswear. The crunch time was early afternoon, when the trains Control was relying on to provide power for later return services were way late.

It didn't help that at all levels those who had been on early shift one summer Saturday were on late shift the next, then nights, and didn't see the same scene again for a while. Incidentally, although trains might be several hours late, the main roads were worse.
 

Welshman

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Certainly in the 1950s and 60s, most Wakes Week destinations from Halifax and the Calder Valley were west coast resorts, with extra trains to Blackpool, and Southport, and one service to Llandudno, travelling non-stop Rochdale-Prestatyn through Manchester Victoria. There was then also a regular service to Liverpool Exchange via the L&Y line, and this conveyed holiday traffic to the Isle of Man by ferry from Liverpool. But Blackpool was by far the most popular destination, with Central station doing a roaring trade. It was quite common to meet the same people you knew from the factory, mills and pubs and streets of Halifax but on the Blackpool promenade instead!

Not as many people went to east coast resorts - Scarborough was always considered a bit too "classy" for Calder Valley mill-workers! Also, a big obstacle to going east by train was having to cross Leeds between Central and City stations, as the two stations were separate until 1967, and although it was only a short walk up Wellington Rd in Leeds, it was one you could so without when carrying heavy suitcases!

Before the Leeds stations were amalgamated, the NE region experimented with two interesting link services - one a Summer Sats only train leaving Halifax about 7.30am to Leeds City, running via Brighouse and Dewsbury, and a daily service with the introduction of the Calder Valley dmus in 1962 of an 8.10am from Halifax to York [staring back from Manchester Victoria at 6.58am] and running via Brighouse, Wakefield Kirkgate and Castleford, arriving in York at 9.30am, but both trains were never crowded, and no equivalent return services were provided.
 

Flying Claret

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Theres a great picture in the Globe centre (former Bulloughs Mill) in Accrington of an excursion train arriving in Blackpool from the town. Apparently the trip was funded by the owners of the mill at the time for the workers and families. I'm guessing mid 50's, but could be wrong.
 

Jagdpanther

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Sunderland used to shut down in the last week of July and first week of August- 'Shipyard Fortnight'. Were there lots of holiday specials then too ?
 

telstarbox

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This seems a suitable place to pop in a piece of trivia I discovered a few years ago when researching back numbers of the Halifax papers. Some of you will recall that for many years Malton was a major nightmare for road travellers heading for the coast, because it was beset with level crossings. At least one Halifax paper actually published times of closure of the level crossing at Malton so that motorists could plan accordingly, such was the weight of rail traffic.


I came to Bradford late (1969) but it certainly remained true that not only Bradford but the smaller towns further up Airedale favoured the Lancashire coast. Holidays were booked for the following year before the end of the current one to ensure the same accommodation, and I can recall the total chaos that ensued inside my factory when the BingleY Guardian published the wrong dates for 'shut down weeks'. Morecambe and Blackpool with the well-to-do going to Grange over Sands. Leeds in contrast favoured Scarboro/ Filey/ Brid.
Was there any sort of coordination between the mills / towns so that not everyone in Lancashire tried to get away in the same week?
 

Welshman

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Theres a great picture in the Globe centre (former Bulloughs Mill) in Accrington of an excursion train arriving in Blackpool from the town. Apparently the trip was funded by the owners of the mill at the time for the workers and families. I'm guessing mid 50's, but could be wrong.
Works Trips were very popular in the 50s - the staff enjoyed a free day out, the management enjoyed better industrial relations and the railway's coffers enjoyed being swollen with extra income.
They usually specified corridor coaches, for although there were neither buffet nor restaurant cars on the train, there would usually be one or two bottles of brown ale in the guard's compartment on the off-chance anyone should feel thirsty on the return journey.

Was there any sort of coordination between the mills / towns so that not everyone in Lancashire tried to get away in the same week?
There was certainly coordination between the towns. Each town had its set week every year and kept to it, eg Halifax's was the first full week in July, Huddersfield Textiles was, I think, the week after.

But all the mills in one town kept the same week, as they were dependent on each other in the manufacturing process. And ancillary industries kept the same week too, e.g. some shops closed as there wasn't the custom, and the bus companies ran to reduced timetables as workers' services were not needed.
I well remember a walk through Halifax during the Wakes Week was like walking through a ghost town.
 
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johnnychips

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Was there any sort of coordination between the mills / towns so that not everyone in Lancashire tried to get away in the same week?
In Yorkshire, each mining village had a ‘Pit Fortnight’ when the workers went on holiday and annual maintenance took place. I believe the holidays were staggered so the maintenance teams could cover several pits.
 

Ianno87

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Bolton used to have "Bolton holidays" in June when the cotton Mills shut down simultaneously in June.

This hung over well into the 1990s, as I still remember some schools still having the 6 week summer holiday in June/July rather than July/August.
 
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A lot of the traffic was relatively local day excursions and might even run from closed stations (e.g. my onetime home of Great Harwood had excursions to Blackpool for 7-8 years after closure);
For example there might be a timetabled Llandudno - Warrington path which would never actually terminate at Warrington! Instead it would be extended to wherever had the Wakes week/fortnight ending that day.
Along the lines of (and these are just examples off the top of my head):

Sat 4 July 0930 Llo-Warrington extended to Rochdale
Sat 11 July 0930 Llo-Warrington extended to Bolton
Sat 18 July 0930 Llo-Warrington extended to Accrington

and so on.
Bolton Great Moor Street station and its lines towards Manchester Exchange and Kenyon Junction closed to passengers in 1954 (well ahead of the Beeching cuts).

However the station was re-opened for Bolton Wakes Weeks Specials to North Wales each summer until 1958.

According to Dennis Sweeney's book A Lancashire Triangle - Part 2, at the beginning of Wakes Week, on Saturday 28 June 1958, the following special trains were scheduled to leave Great Moor St.

Train no. 190 - 06:25 to Prestatyn, Rhyl, Abergele, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno Jn, Conway, Penmaenmawr, Llanfairfechan and Bangor.
Train no. 191 - 07:00 to Prestatyn, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno Jn, Deganwy and Llandudno.
Train no. 192 - 07:38 to Prestatyn, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno Jn, Deganwy and Llandudno.
Train no. 193 - 08:00 to Afonwen and Penychain.
Train no. 195 - 09:24 to Bangor, Caernarvon, Afonwen and Penychain.
Train no. 197 - 11:55 to Prestatyn and Rhyl.
Train no. 198 - 12:14 to Prestatyn, Rhyl, Abergele, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno Jn, Deganwy and Llandudno.
Train no. 199 - 12:44 to Prestatyn, Rhyl, Abergele, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno Jn, Deganwy and Llandudno.
Train no. 194 - 13:30 to Prestatyn, Rhyl, Abergele, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno Jn, Deganwy and Llandudno.

On the same day (Sat. 28 June 1958), there were additional special trains from elsewhere on the fringes of Bolton to North Wales:-
- Train no. 184 - 09:15 Tyldesley and Leigh to Prestatyn, Rhyl, Abergele, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno Jn, Deganwy and Llandudno.
- Train no. 183 - 11:42 Atherton Bag Lane, Atherleigh, Westleigh and Kenyon Junction to Prestatyn, Rhyl, Abergele, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno Jn, Deganwy and Llandudno.
(At this time Atherton Bag Lane, Atherleigh, Westleigh stations had also been closed for about four years).

I never knew there was such a close connection between Bolton and the North Wales holiday resorts that this number of trains seems to suggest!

A bit before my time, but no doubt it would have been interesting to see the collection of freight locomotives and vintage rolling stock pressed into service to provide all these inevitably quite lengthy trains.

The following weekend, 4th & 5th July 1958, must have been "Wigan Week" because Sweeney's book gives an even more eclectic range of destination for the special trains laid on from Wigan North Western and other station in the Wigan and Leigh area.
 

Welshman

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A bit before my time, but no doubt it would have been interesting to see the collection of freight locomotives and vintage rolling stock pressed into service to provide all these inevitably quite lengthy trains.
Anything that could just about raise steam was pressed into service. Sheds were emptied of locos. Rakes of coaches were dragged out of carriage sidings for their annual outing.
Trains were overloaded. The engine crew just battled on the best they could. Actually, there was no need for great speed as you simply crept from block to block, drawing-up at certain stations with short platforms and waiting in the queue for the banker to get you over Copy Pit.
It often took about 3 hours to get from Halifax to Blackpool - a distance of 60 miles. But, who cared? You were on holiday!
 
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They usually specified corridor coaches, for although there were neither buffet nor restaurant cars on the train, there would usually be one or two bottles of brown ale in the guard's compartment on the off-chance anyone should feel thirsty on the return journey.
I doubt it's still there after re-builds in recent years, but on the Manchester-bound platforms at Bolton (Trinity St), at the eastern end of the platform buildings, there used to be a gents' toilet, built in monumental Victorian fashion and fully tiled, which featured a high-capacity urinal around three of the four walls.

I always assumed this commodious facility (much bigger than required for a two or three-car DMU, and nothing of comparable scale provided on the Wigan/Preston-bound platforms) had been necessary to cater for returning cross-legged crowds disgorging from non-corridor compartment stock used for steam-era Blackpool excursions - some male passengers no doubt having enjoyed "refreshments" at the seaside, and maybe a bottle or two on the way home.
 
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ChiefPlanner

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In Yorkshire, each mining village had a ‘Pit Fortnight’ when the workers went on holiday and annual maintenance took place. I believe the holidays were staggered so the maintenance teams could cover several pits.

Much the same in South Wales where there was a general pit holiday in August. Heavy track works for sidings and the odd freight only lines were done at this time - e.g over several years CWR was partly installed on the Pantyffynon to GCG / Abernant lines. "Deeply inefficient" BR used secondhand rail cascaded from main lines. This gave a medium term maintenance benefit.

Lots of "Mystery trips" arranged from places like Treherbet etc to wide range of destinations both north and south , special offers to all sorts of destinations for day trips to Tenby , Torbay and oddly enough not London (but you could get to Slough !) , daily special trains worked by non heat 37's from Swansea to Clifton Down for the Zoo. Known affectionately as "Monkey Specials"

Of course , then there were reasonable Cross Country services to Manchester / Newcastle etc , which were probably augmented by the odd special or relief train.
 

52290

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Anything that could just about raise steam was pressed into service. Sheds were emptied of locos. Rakes of coaches were dragged out of carriage sidings for their annual outing.
Trains were overloaded. The engine crew just battled on the best they could. Actually, there was no need for great speed as you simply crept from block to block, drawing-up at certain stations with short platforms and waiting in the queue for the banker to get you over Copy Pit.
It often took about 3 hours to get from Halifax to Blackpool - a distance of 60 miles. But, who cared? You were on holiday!
As a spotter between Preston and Leyland in the 1950's the whole summer was a field day for copping locos from rare sheds, particularly at the end of summer when Blackpool Illuminations were switched on. You'd get standard 9F's from sheds like Toton , including the Crosti boilered ones from Wellingborough, arriving mid-afternoon and returning late at night. There would also be rare Jubilees from the Midlands and Yorkshire and rarest of all ex-LNER locos such as B1, K2 and K3's from sheds such as York, Darlington, Stockton and Neville Hill etc.
Preston, Chorley and Leyland holiday fortnight always coincided with Glasgow fortnight so there was plenty of Scottish locos about from some of the more obscure sheds in the Glasgow area.
Incidentally I never heard the term "wakes week" used to describe the annual holidays in my area.
 

Flying Claret

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Was there any sort of coordination between the mills / towns so that not everyone in Lancashire tried to get away in the same week?
Certainly yes in East Lancs. Burnley was first, then came Accrington, (6 miles away) which morphed into 'Accy fortnight' and was still well used phrase until fairly recently. (I think it was the 3rd week of july) but stand to be corrected.
 

nw1

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Bolton used to have "Bolton holidays" in June when the cotton Mills shut down simultaneously in June.

This hung over well into the 1990s, as I still remember some schools still having the 6 week summer holiday in June/July rather than July/August.

I first went to school in Cheshire before moving down south and do remember that, rather than merely a one week May half-term, they had "Whitsun Holiday" at primary school, which was two weeks and equivalent in status, from what I remember, to Christmas and Easter. It was the regular May half-term plus the following week in early June. This would have been the late 1970s.

Down south no such thing existed - it was just another half-term.

I also have a vague feeling that we broke up for summer from primary school earlier in the north - maybe mid-July versus late July in the south - as late as July 24th one year (I distinctly remember a school trip to the Tower of London on a wet July 23rd and that being the penultimate day of term). However I may have mis-remembered this. Return to school was always early Sep though - never earlier.

Opposite extreme happened some years in secondary school: in some years of the 80s we had a skinflint 2 or 3 days for the Feb half term. Some years we got the whole week, others no - and it didn't depend on the date of Easter. One such year had a late Easter and another, an early Easter.
 
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MontyP

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I first went to school in Cheshire before moving down south and do remember that, rather than merely a one week May half-term, they had "Whitsun Holiday" at primary school, which was two weeks and equivalent in status, from what I remember, to Christmas and Easter. It was the regular May half-term plus the following week in early June. This would have been the late 1970s.

Down south no such thing existed - it was just another half-term.

I also have a vague feeling that we broke up for summer from primary school earlier in the north - maybe mid-July versus late July in the south - as late as July 24th one year (I distinctly remember a school trip to the Tower of London on a wet July 23rd and that being the penultimate day of term). However I may have mis-remembered this. Return to school was always early Sep though - never earlier.

Opposite extreme happened some years in secondary school: in some years of the 80s we had a skinflint 2 or 3 days for the Feb half term. Some years we got the whole week, others no - and it didn't depend on the date of Easter. One such year had a late Easter and another, an early Easter.

The two week holiday at the end of May / early June still persists in parts of Cheshire e.g. Stockport
 

6Gman

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Sunderland used to shut down in the last week of July and first week of August- 'Shipyard Fortnight'. Were there lots of holiday specials then too ?
There would have been, though well outside my areas of knowledge!
 

UrieS15

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IIRC when the metropolitan authorities were created in West Yorkshire there was a period of confusion because several different town holiday weeks were all now under the same educational authority. In Bradford for example Keighley was completely out of step for exactly the reasons we have discussed.
 

6Gman

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Was there any sort of coordination between the mills / towns so that not everyone in Lancashire tried to get away in the same week?
There was. Different towns would have different weeks.

There was a further benefit to this. The mills would use the shutdown for heavy maintenance, often using specialist contractors. Clearly these contractors couldn't be everywhere at the same time so the wakes weeks would be spread across July and August. It also meant that school holidays varied between towns. When I first moved to Crewe I discovered that our summer holiday was two weeks at the beginning of July, back to school for a fortnight then the whole of August off!
 
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