The day 60 people queued up in -3 temperatures to get a spot at Coventry's 'precious' holiday camp

Long queues at Birmingham Airport recently reminded us of another time when people in Coventry queued to go on holiday - but in quite different circumstances. Back in the 1960s it was normal to queue all night outside during winter to book a place at a holiday camp in Rhyl.

Pictures from our archives from February 2, 1969 show a crowd of people waiting for the booking office in King Street to open so they could book their chalet at the Co-op private holiday camp.

The photographer noted that almost 60 people ‘stayed up all night in temperatures that fell to 26 degrees (-3 degrees Celsius)’ and that a wash tub brazier was filled with logs to help keep out the cold.

Read more: Amazing scenes from Coventry market from 1962 to 2008

Back in 2008 readers shared memories of their visits to the camp, nicknamed ‘Coventry by the sea’. It was a happy holiday destination for many Coventry families from the 30s to the 60s, and people usually stayed in tents or chalets.

Phyllis Smith, part of Coventry’s biggest family at the start of the Second World War, remembered fun holidays with games, paddling in the sea, simple meals that always tasted good and how the sun always shone. She said that every night people would sing ‘goodnight campers, see you in the morning’ as the entertainment finished in the hall.

She added: “"Even though we were very poor, we were always taken to Rhyl for one glorious week a year as dad - Robert Rueben Tweed, known as Percy - worked on the railways we had a free rail pass, otherwise we could not have gone.

"We had to queue up to book this wonderful, precious holiday.”

Janet Jenkins, nee Herron, of Potters Green, said: “We used to stay in a hut which was very basic, just like a shed. I remember it had bunk beds with grey blankets and a really old cooker.

“There used to be a sports day midweek and a party every Friday and we had great fun.”

All twelve siblings of the Tweed family pictured at the start of World War II
All twelve siblings of the Tweed family pictured at the start of World War II -Credit:Coventry Telegraph

Sylvia Owen, of Stoke, remembered: “I must have been about eight when I went to the Co-op holiday camp at Rhyl with my parents, my younger brother and sister.

“We used to go for a week in September. We went on a charabang (coach).

“They had a shop that sold groceries, pop and cigarettes, etc. There was no club on the site; there was a large wooden hall with a stage.

“As a family we would go on the beach after the tide had gone out and would go crabbing in the small pools that were left by the sea. We would also look for jellyfish and go winkle hunting on the rocks. We used to collect the winkles and take them back to the chalet and mum would cook them.

“A committee was formed of the manager and parents who were on holiday and they would arrange all sorts of things for both parents and children to do during the week. There were games on the beach and also on the camp. The races we had were for both parents and children; egg and spoon, wheelbarrow and three-legged races. There were sandcastle competitions on the beach and kite flying. Fancy dress costumes were usually made on the spur of the moment.

“In the evening we would go to the entertainment hut; there would be housey-housey (bingo), beetle drives. We also had some film shows. If we didn't want to go to the entertainment hut, we would play cards in the chalet, read or play cricket, tennis or football out on the grass.

“We would sometimes go off camp and would walk into Rhyl, find a fish and chip shop and sit and eat them on the beach. The weather in September was usually really hot and I don't remember it raining during the day, only at night.

“On the last day there was a party for all the children. After there was a prizegiving for those who had won races but nobody was left out as they were given sticks of rock. Before you left on the Saturday morning, someone would come round to check that everything was clean and tidy and nothing had been broken.

“I even went when I got married and I had two daughters of my own and we went until the eldest was 14. We have very happy memories of the 27 years we went to the Co-op camp.”

Mrs B Joyce, of Binley, said: “After queueing for about two hours you had the choice of a wooden chalet with no water which you had to fetch from a tap nearby, or a brick chalet with running water which was much better.

“My three girls used to have a good time joining in the games which were organised well and included all ages.

“My younger girl won a teddy bear for being the youngest baby there. We went many times and had a good holiday each time.”

You can read more nostalgia content here. Don't forget to share your memories in the comments.

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