A day trip to Weymouth by train from Langport required two changes. Having a good day out meant catching the 8.03 from Langport West to Yeovil Town (the next train was not until two hours later), where the shuttle train was taken to Yeovil Pen Mill in order to catch the train that ran from Bristol to Weymouth. Arrival in Weymouth would have been at 9.50. An hour and three quarters journeying to cover forty-one miles.
What was it about a day out that made the journey worthwhile? Why would people dress up in their best clothes to go to sit on a beach in Dorset?
Langport West station had been closed for three or four years by the time we went on our first outing to Weymouth. The track had been torn up. Trains would never again be an option for a day out.
From High Ham, we travelled by coach for our outing. The “Sunday School” outing was the first Monday of the school summer holiday. Few people went to church, even fewer went to Sunday School, perhaps there had been a time when it had been an annual treat for children of Saint Andrew’s church, but by our time it was a village excursion.
Whether by train, or by bus, though, what was it that attracted people? There was never a year when the bus was not full, why did we all go?
Perhaps it was about taking part in an activity with others. There would have been no reason why we could not have gone to Weymouth in our family car, but it would not have been the same. A family of five heading off for the day in an Austin car did not have a mood comparable with that of fifty people boarding a bus.
Even now, I can still recall the sense of excited anticipation as we stood at the end of the road awaiting the arrival of the coach. There would have been shouted greetings and smiles and laughter as we found seats and opportunity on the journey to wander up and down the bus to talk to friends. The first glimpse of the sea would be greeted with a cheer.
But what was it all about?
The day would have been spent on the beach in hired deck chairs. There would have been sand castle building and dips in the sea, but, on a crowded beach, games were restricted. Lunch would have been sandwiches.
In the afternoon, there might have been a visit to the shops before tea was eaten in a fish and chip cafe.
On the journey home, there was a stop in Dorchester. Ostensibly for more fish and chips, the stop allowed some of the trippers time for a quick drink in a pub.
“Didn’t we have a lovely day?” would be the refrain as we left the bus at the end of our road.
A beach, chips, togetherness – a lovely day did not demand much.