Treats for us kids in the 1950s were a lot different from today, back then there were no Alton Towers or Lego Land, very few families’s had a car and trips to the seaside were generally reserved for the main holidays if you were lucky. There was not a lot of money to spare for travelling far on day trip, though for us kids that didn’t seem to matter so much.
Two days out spring to mind when I look back at my childhood days in the 1950s. The first of these was a Sunday school outing by bus; it seemed to us kids that we had travelled a long way when in reality we had only been taken some 15 miles or so from Long Eaton to Markeaton Park in Derby. Markeaton Park covers a large area with a large scale lake that was used for boating. I remember walking down to the lake and crossing over a bridge and as I reached the other bank, there in front of me over a small rise appeared a travelling fair with a galloping horse’s fairground ride and a helter skelter. It was just like the scene from the Disney Film Mary Poppins when Dick Van Dyke takes them all to the fair it was just like I had entered some magical dream world. Much later when I was older I remember being taken to Markeaton Park and when I discovered the Fair wasn't a permanent attraction my dream world was shattered.
There was another trip though that was really special, about once or twice a year in the late 50s I was taken to Nottingham (about 18 miles away) and in the old market square we would take a ride on a Nottingham Corporation Trolley Bus to Trent Bridge. I always got excited about riding the trolley buses they were much better then you ordinary buses, the smell of the leather seats the smoothness of the ride and they were so quiet compared to the petrol engine buses, and at the terminus you could watch the driver move the connecting arm over to the over head cables that gave the trolley’s their power to run using a long pole for the journey back. At Trent Bridge we would board one of the many pleasure boats that were moored at the side of the Trent and be taken a couple of miles up river to Colwick Pleasure Gardens. To be honest it was only a couple of old wooden sheds with a few slot machines inside, a few swing boats and part of the river roped off for a paddling pool but for us kids it was as good as a day out at the Seaside.
If we were really lucky we would go for tea at Lyons Corner House restaurant in the Market square and afterwards be taken to the cinema. Nottingham at night in the days of the trolley buses was great fun especially if it had been raining, Sparks would fly off the over head electrical wires as the trolleys ran over them and the sky would be lit up just like on November the 5th.
Those days out were just perfect, because there were still a lot of bombed sites left by World War II and we were just getting over rationing but in many ways they were still happy days.