Leeds Nostalgia: Thousands queued for trains for 1945 August Bank Holiday

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Such was the relief of people in Britain that the war with Germany had come to an end that crowds waited throughout the night in a bid to catch the first morning trains to the coast on what was the first peacetime Bank Holiday.

Of course, the war with Japan still waged but it didn’t stop thousands flocking to Leeds railway station. In fact, people began arriving from 10am the previous day (July 31) to catch the 3.40am Blackpool train. An Evening Post reporter who went to keep vigil overnight reported a few score milling about in Leeds Central Station.

The report goes on: “By midnight, the number had grown to 400, by 1am another 100 had been added, arriving mostly on foot.

“By 3am there could not have been fewer than 700 or 800 people lined up or laying down in the platform,” adding: “and the rafters of this lofty station seemed to shake with the lusty singing of this crowd of holiday-makers.”

There were young men, old men, old women, young girls by the hundred, servicemen and servicewomen. Songs broke out spontaneously, apparently, with sections of the crowd breaking into “Oh we do like to be beside the seaside… oh we do like to be beside the sea.”

Once the 3.40am had embarked, the crowds grew still further for the 5.10am. Across at City Station, the situation was much the same, with around 400 people queueing for the 6.10am to Morecambe but even by 5am the crowds were forced to spill out of the station, the line of people snaking down Aire Street for a good distance.

As the day wore on, so the crowds grew until there was no possibility of late comers boarding but they took up their waiting postitions - those selling food and drink prospered greatly on the day.

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