The Railway Children
SKEGNESS Railway Station just before mid-day on a Saturday in 1975.
Long queues of holidaymakers are waiting for the train home. And when it comes in there will be hundreds more getting off, laden with cases and bags and often uncertain how to reach their holiday destination.
A lot will go outside to the buses or the taxi rank. But some will prefer to walk and pay boys like these to carry the luggage for them.
In the picture above, the boy on the right is 11-year-old Paul Parker, of 34 Richmond Drive, who has been doing this for two years. He uses an old push-chair bought second-hand and adapted. The carpet covering it is a thoughtful touch to make sure the cases don’t get scratched in transit.
He reckons to make between £30 and £40 a season, which is an average sort of figure for the luggagers. Most people want to go to the Richmond Carapark and pay about 50p.
But sometimes they want the North Shore Holiday Centre or further still, Butlin’s at Ingoldmells. For that three-mile journey they usually pay between £1.50 and £2.
Paul said he approached passengers and offered his services rather than wait to be asked. But the luggagers always tell their customers: “You pay what you like.”
Why not fix a fee according to distance? “I don’t like charging,” said Paul. “I f eel afraid to ask. I’d rather leave it to them.”
It has been known for him to get stuck on a hill and then they help to push.
There’s usually a bit of conversation as they go along. “They ask us questions and we try to answer them,” he said. So it looks as though payment covers an information service as well!
On the left — with Graham Hazard (nine), of 6 Beresford Crescent sitting on his barrow — is 10-year-old Mark Pellow, of 3 Beresford Crescent. This is his first year and he uses the chassis of the pram he used to ride in as a baby.
His dad knocked it together for him and provided the “Skegness” sign. He too, has carpeting. The board in the front is an added refinement. He explained: “When you stop they fall out of the front.” Could be very embarrassing.
He works until 2 pm on Saturdays either at the railway station or coach park and finds that sometimes people do come up and ask. Sometimes he will pick up outgoing holidaymakers at the Richmond Carapark. Twenty pence from there to the coach park is a normal payment.
The weight varies quite a bit. “Sometimes they’re heavy and take a bit of pushing,” he said.
Julie carries it in style
THERE are five girls among the luggagers. One of them is 12-year-old Julie Epton, (left), of 14 Graham Road, seen here bound for Lumley Road with a couple of customers at the coach park.
Note the stylish three-wheeled model she is driving. It’s the only one with a tricycle undercarriage.
“It makes it easier for getting up kerbs,” expained Julie. “It used to swivel, but my dad mended it. Dad made the whole thing. I strap the luggage on with rubber bands which hook on the front. People help to push when they’re heavy.”
Julie has been in the business for four years, the first year of which was spent with her elder sister, learning the trade.
Now she gets between £30 and £40 a season. Most of it is spent on clothes but she also puts 50p a week in her money box for Christmas.
The most she has ever had in one day is £5.
Paul set for 8-mile push
PAUL Bird (above) waits for customers at the Lawns coach park, where there are no taxis to provide competition. Aged 12, Paul, of 16 Graham Road, has been operating for four years.
His cart, mounted on pram wheels, is an exclusive design made by his grandad. Light blue, it has a taped bar for pushing instead of handles, tall boards front and rear to hold the luggage and a special compartment behind the back one in which he carries sandwiches, an apple and something to drink.
But he had taken off the carpeting because it got wet in the winter.
Paul puts the heaviest cases close to the handle to help tip it up to mount kerbs.
He estimates that he walks an average of eight miles every Saturday, during the summer. Getting through the crowds can be difficult and he keeps banging up against the kerbs.
The furthest he has had to go is the North Shore Holiday Centre and the most he had ever had for a journey is £1. He got that three years ago and again this season for a trip to Tagg’s Caravan Site on. Wainfleet Road.
The lowest? A penny from a woman of about 60 whose luggage he took to the YMCA in Grosvenor Road, last year. “I felt disappointed,” said Paul. “I didn’t think it was worth going.”
The weight of the luggage does not seem to influence people when deciding how much to pay.
Paul believes in asking people if they want help, but would rather let them fix the payment.
Sometimes he will wander round the streets between 9 and 10 am, on a Saturday to see if there is anyone needing his services.
He earns about £40 a season and puts most of it in the bank. But last year was better than usual and he ended up with around £60. On his best day he netted £5.60.
Paul is becoming quite an accomplished guide to the town.
“They ask if it’s been good weather, where the beach is, who is on at different shows and where everything is. I know the answer to most of their questions”, he added.
One family whose luggage he carried in 1975 said; “See you again next year”, and thought the odds against this were quite high, he actually did! He didn’t remember them at first but the man recognised him. “He said it again but I haven’t seen him yet this year,” said Paul.
Video of Skegness Barrow Boys 1960