British summer holiday habits of the past explored by Leicester researchers

Visiting different countries and traveling the world is a common way people spend their summer holidays - but the historical British summer holiday would have been a much less frequent and far more local affair. 

Researchers from the Special Collections have explored the sorts of holidays people in the UK went on in the past by examining a variety of historical interviews with residents from throughout Leicester and Leicestershire contained within the University’s East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA).

During the eighteenth century, the majority of people were unable to take paid time off of work, and as a result were far less likely to go on holiday as wages were low and many could not afford to go without pay.

In 1871 the Bank Holiday Act was introduced, which brought about the beginning of official holidays. In 1938 the Holiday Pay Act recommended that full-time employees should be allowed one week’s annual paid vacation time, finally making it easier for people to go on holiday.

As the train became a more reasonable mode of transport for the majority of people, holiday destinations and habits changed.

The rise of the summer holiday saw people flock to tourist attractions a short journey away, such as Bradgate Park – but it was the seaside that held the greatest attraction for many.

While the locations of summer holidays may have changed in recent years due to more advanced technology and cheaper prices, people’s desire to visit different locations – particularly the beach – and soak up the sun has remained consistent.