Browsing through the Halifax Courier from 70 years ago you might be tempted to think that little has changed. The headlines deal with a possible train strike and worsening relations with Russia. Look inside, however, and you get a sudden reminder of how some things do change, because 70 years ago today it was the eve of Halifax Wakes Week. For those from elsewhere other than the North of England, a word of explanation might be necessary. Each manufacturing and mill town had its own Wakes Week, the week when all the factories and mills in the town would close down for the annual holidays. And it wouldn’t be just the factories and mills that closed down, many of the shops in the town centre would close as well, leaving deserted streets and empty pubs and cafes. Hundreds of extra trains and coaches would take people away to the seaside, some going west to the likes of Blackpool and Morecambe, some going east to Bridlington and Scarborough. The police even issued reminders for householders to cancel milk deliveries and turn the water off at the mains – actions that would cause come confusion to many modern householders. I am old enough to remember Wakes Week, and as my father was one such Halifax factory worker, we were a family that would join the thousands of others on those trains and coaches, leaving Halifax early in the morning, and heading for the seaside.

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