O.K., were you on holiday on Preston Sands Sea Front, Paignton (at the Redcliffe Hotel end) in the middle two weeks of August in the late 50's and the same fortnight in the 1960's & 1970's? If you were, then you may recognise some of the faces in the photographs featured here.

Did you meet the "Beach Hutters" - or perhaps you were one of them?

My apologies to the many holiday-makers who were friends with my parents there, but weren't actually photographed by them (especially Tom & Nancy Sinclair from Liverpool). Featured below are the people my parents did "snap" - or who had sent photos to them.

Dad & Mum treasured these two weeks every year, and we all looked forward so much to meeting the people from all over England again and share the good times.

We first holidayed in Preston, Paignton, in 1954 after four enjoyable years in Weymouth. That first year, we didn't actually hire a beach hut. We sat on the beach or the prom when it was fine, or sat in the large shelter at the far "rocks end" of the beach when it rained (more about that later).

1954            1956

Right, to "set the scene", here are some shots of Bert & Dorrie with their son, Raymond! The first was taken in Paignton on that first holiday back in 1954. I am proudly sporting my Priory Junior School blazer!

In 1956, we were friendly with an elderly couple from Birmingham who had a dear little dog named, of course, "Ming"! He just loved my mother.

A Familiar Pose

Families and couples flocked to the resort and the beach huts on the promenade were extremely popular. One or two were privately owned by the local hotels, but most were council owned and were bookable by the week.

As soon as we hired a beach hut of course, things became even more friendly, as we began to meet the same people every day (and then of course, every year!).

This photo was taken a couple of years down the line, when we were "regular beach-hutters"!

A bit of Ming!

I mentioned Ming above, well here is the only photo I can find of his owners, Mr & Mrs W. Strain of Hunnington, Birmingham.

Ming can be seen (or part of him can) sitting on the ground on the right-hand side. Mr & Mrs Strain are the couple to its left.

Another of our friends, Arthur Fardell, is sat near them on the wall, reading a newspaper,

Who are the children having the delicious-looking picnic? Is it Judith Fardell with her back to the camera?

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Dad & Mum made very great friends with a lovely couple from Southminster, Essex. They were Ethel & Jack Beale. They had a son, Terry Beale, who came with them in the very early years.

Every year they made the rather torturous train journey from Essex to Paignton with a family friend, Ellen Stibbings from Burnham-on-Crouch. I remember that they always sent their luggage (a massive old chest) ahead of them on the final Friday of their holiday!

They were also friends of Chas & Kath Gask of Derby. The photo above (left) features (from left to right) Mum, Ethel, Jack, Chas, Dad, Ellen & Kath. Jack was a ex-Japanese POW and suffered badly from his treatment there.

The right-hand photo is of Ethel & Ellen.

Lovely, lovely people.

Raindrops Shelter in 2003!

This is the shelter where mum, dad & I sat one rainy afternoon in 1954 and got chatting with a lovely couple from West Bromwich who had a dear little daughter, Judith.

Little did we know that this was to be the start of a long and happy friendship. Arthur, Joan & Judith Fardell came to stay at our house every Easter for a number of years, and also hired a beach hut on Preston Sands near to ours throughout the next two decades

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Joan, Arthur and a very young Judith. I've managed to get in on the act too!

Judith Arthur & Ray

Judith with her dad, Arthur Fardell, and Raymond Poole!

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The Fardell's friends from Norton, Stourbridge, Vic and Edna Neale together with their daughter Patricia also spent some enjoyable holidays in Preston.

The photograph on the left shows the two families together with my mother and I. That's Patricia and Judith in the right-hand photo.

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Fred & Olive Hurt (Fred's "wig" makes another timely appearance later in this story!)


Fred & Olive Hurt were our "next-hut-neighbours" in 1960 until the 80's. A down-to-earth Yorkshire couple from Woodseats, Sheffield, they had a friendly, delightful daughter, Janet, who was the same age as me.

We became firm friends on that holiday, sharing a mutual love of detective novels (Agatha Christie was my favourite at the time) and tennis - of which neither of us were that good, but we were of similar standard, so matches were keenly and evenly fought at the Paignton courts!

We, as typical teenagers, loved our pop music and we spent many an evening at the beach huts listening to Radio Luxembourg on our "trannies"!.

It's funny how certain songs stick in your memory - it was a lovely evening and just about dark, when wafting across from the beach came the sound of a haunting, instantly likeable tune. It was "Telstar" by the Tornados. A magic moment from August 1962 which always springs to mind when I hear that tune again today. Magic!

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Janet Hurt

Over the next few years Janet & I became avid pen-friends. Hundreds of letters flew between Taunton and Sheffield as we shared our experiences in the 50 weeks we counted down between the Preston vacations. Exam results, leaving school, first jobs, gossip about our Youth Club friends - and lists & lists of our reviews and opinions of the latest discs. If you're reading this, Janet, I've still got those letters - the blue paper with matching envelopes. Great tomes were composed week in and week out!

On each holiday, avidly awaited and greatly enjoyed, we saw some great pop concerts on a Sunday evening at the Princess Theatre in Torquay. Adam Faith (a big favourite of us both), Walker Brothers and the Beatles (what an unforgettable night that was!).

Of course, time has moved on, and so did we - the letter-writing finally ended, holidays were taken abroad and contact was lost. That's how our lives change and develop.

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Susan Sanders
(with her mum, me and Denyse)

There were several couples, some with young children & some of more mature years who often received visits from their grown-up sons & daughters, who were no more than "nodding acquaintances", but it was always a friendly greeting every day between us all. My parents knew all these people's names and where they came from, but regrettably, I didn't. So, if I cannot give them a name-check here, sorry! I haven't photos of many of these people, but I do have an 8mm cine film transferred to video that features lots more faces.

However, we did become friendly with Susan Sanders and her mum (from Doncaster), and Ron & Barbara Goss and their two little girls, Denyse & Andrea (from Plympton).

I was very fond of Susan - a sweet and delightful young lady who wrote me several letters during the time we knew each other.


Ron (a milkman, I seem to recall) & Barbara's daughters were happy, charming little girls who got on so well with Susan.

Here's a charming photograph of them in a sand-sculptured boat on Preston Sands named "Pride of Paignton" (or so it says on the back of the snap!)

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Raymond Daubney & Family (Oldham) with yours truly : The "2 Raymonds" playing Beach Tennis!

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And so it goes on.......

We often received a day visit from our relatives. Mum's sister, Eva, her husband John and my cousin Terry popped down with my grandmother from their home not far away in Exeter. We also entertained Auntie Edie & Uncle Ivor from Merthyr Vale.

In later years, my Uncle Eric & Auntie June kindly drove mum & dad to Paignton and collected them at the end of their fortnight. It saved dad all the hassle of train journeys as he and mum got older. It was greatly appreciated even though the 60 mile journey on the old A38 took upwards of 5 or 6 hours back then!


For several years prior to my more adventurous trips into the wilds of Europe in the late 60's, I had friends to stay with me. Alan Vowles and David Eele were super mates and great company.

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Just a few holiday shots of "you-know-who" as I grew up on these annual visits to sunny South Devon!

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Earlier I featured that "wig" on Fred Hurt - well it appears that I was suffering from the same condition!

The "grown up" Ray joining in with the men's group on the sea wall! Vic Neale, Arthur Fardell, Fred Hurt & myself.


The August "Beach Hutters" were avid sporting types too!

Lots of splashing and swimming in the always chilly Torbay, as well as cricket. We played cricket most days on the "Green". Tip & run mainly and the star batsman was Arthur. Until he encountered Raymond Daubney from Oldham. He was a great little bowler, I recall, and got Arthur out bowled, on his debut, first ball!

But top of the list was our "Annual Putting Championships". The 18-hole, almost grassless, course on Preston Green was our challenge every day, rain or shine. Scores from every round were religiously kept and scrupulously analysed before the end-of-holiday announcements were made on who was Top Adult and Top Kid. I was always close but never achieved the ultimate prize!

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Raymond, Arthur, Janet & Susan

It was an expensive hobby too - 6d (2p) a round!

We were so well-known to the Attendant on the course that he actually came out to wave us goodbye as the train taking us home passed by the course.

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Preston in 2003

The Beach : The Cafe where we enjoyed those "Knickerbocker Glories" on the last Friday of our holiday.

So, that is the story of the "Preston Sands August Beach Hutters".

Dad and mum made their final visit in 1976. I made a few day trips to the old place from home during the middle two weeks of August in the 1980's and met up with a few of the old faces including Tom & Nancy Sinclair (sorry I have no photos of that lovely Liverpool couple).

Us kids all had our lives in front of us, and as for the most of the parents, most are gone now, I guess.

I love to spend a day there most Augusts even now in the 21st century, hiring a deckchair and sitting in front of those beach huts. Maybe feeling the presence of one or two old friends, definitely having very happy memories of the magic and excitement of those holidays which still shine through in these 40 year-old photographs. Happy faces and innocent times and part of my life to be recalled with the greatest pleasure.

Now, who's for a soft ice-cream cornet at the Igloo then? Sorry to say - it's finally closed! In its place? One of those up-market coffee houses - is nothing sacred!!!






Ray Poole

December 2009

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