Fly away


The standard British holiday changed forever as the egg and chips moved from Morecambe to Majorca.

tumblr_nmxzb3kB791urw2ozo1_1280The 1960s saw the start of the package holiday. Before these appeared, travel agents on the High Street could put a package together for you, but you paid for each item individually and each stage of a journey was independent. The process was expensive and time-consuming before you even got to you destination.

The first packages were coach tours, pioneered by Arrowsmith Holidays of Liverpool in the late 1940s. You would make your own way to a central point in a city, board a coach and be driven to a ferry, cross to Ireland or to Ostend, stay for the weekend in a modest hotel, get picked up by the coach, driven back to the ferry, cross the sea and find yourself back at the central point, ready to make your own way home.

For thousands of people, this was the first taste of travel abroad. What Harry Bowden-Smith of Arrowsmith (the name is a pun) thought was that he could replace the coach and ferry part with an aeroplane trip of about the same length – and for about the same price. That way he could take people further, to Spain and Portugal, for instance, where even then there was a surfeit of cheap hotels.

He aimed this squarely at northerners, whose only experience of going abroad had been on his coaches to Ireland and Belgium or, more likely, fighting in North Africa and across France and Germany in the 1940s. He advertised to families who usually went to Blackpool or Morecambe for a week in August with an offer of a trip that took about the same time as the coach or the train and cost about the same price as a refined guesthouse in Cleveleys.

tumblr_nmxzloq1VY1urw2ozo1_1280Crucially, he made the decision easier for these new international travellers by importing food vans to the Costas his clients were staying in, ensuring that the British terror of “foreign food” like rice and spices was placated by a ready and permanent supply of egg, chips and ice cream.

Thus the standard British holiday was changed forever, mostly by staying the same.

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