Tales from the City- The Bank Holiday

Photographer. R.E. A. Sheldon
Bank Holiday with Grandma and Uncle
Southend on Sea

I used to love Bank Holidays, but now I just wish them over. I get too grumpy. The train is fuller, ( well more crowded than normal), the shops are extra crammed, and anywhere where there is a threat of sunshine, well there is a flood of people. Years ago on Bank Holidays, shops were closed, just as in some villages all shops shut on certain days. In Forest Row, if memory serves me right, I ended up in dire need of a sweater, and bad luck to me,  it was Wednesday. Nothing was open. Not even the local riding shop. Surely horses don’t take a day off? But apparently they did back then.

Bank Holidays were first created in 1871 with the Bank Holiday act.  It was a way to slow down the flow of money out, as the banks earned some extra interest on the money inside the vaults. Of course with the internet, even though there isn’t a human working the tills anymore, the bank machines and online are in full swing. It just a public holiday now.

I wonder what it would be like to go back and have things shut on Bank Holidays? No shopping, no banking, just a grand day out, unless it was raining. Then what? Sit around the wireless, play a family game of cards, turn on the rads, and read a good book? Nonsense! Who wants that? It’s time to get out there and cram in as much as possible, get the shopping done and dusted, hit the Bank Holiday sales, take in a historic site, and go back to work, exhausted with tales of ‘oh what we did over Bank Holiday.’  I for one will be incredibly boring and just try to hide out.

Bank Holidays were desperately needed, as prior to 1834, there was only four days off from work, May 1 for May day, November 1 all saints day, Good Friday and Christmas day. Not much chance to spend some family time as we know it. Easter Sunday of course was off as it fell on Sunday, and what was open back then other than the church? Bank holidays didn’t include Good Friday nor Christmas day as they were already proper days off. It was an exhausting life with work hours way into the night, women of course worked not only in the home, but out in market stalls, taking in laundry, and various other occupations. The Bank Holiday was truly a day off from the hard endless days throughout the year.

May Day by Kate Greenaway. Image from http://e...

May Day by Kate Greenaway. Image from http://encarta.msn.com/ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This year the Bank Holiday was rain and more rain for some.  It was a fabulous day to write this little post, and read a book, and wonder would I really like it, if I couldn’t just run down to the shops for a pint of milk? I think I might be the first one protesting loudly!

About susan sheldon nolen

It’s rare to catch me without coffee, a form of camera, or my beloved wire fox terriers. I love the history, the art, and it’s a massive part of my life, as I either paint, write, or get interrupted by my dogs, reminding me of the real world. I hope you enjoy your time here. It’s such a privilege to have readers.
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2 Responses to Tales from the City- The Bank Holiday

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    As always, thanks for a bit of history. And reading a book on a rainy holiday sounds like a perfect way to spend a day. 🙂

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