Bank holidays

How people down the years have made the most of the August Bank Holiday, as seen through the BBC Archive.

Bank and public holidays are essential breathing spaces within the working year and welcome breaks from the treadmill of routine.

Non-religious days off were introduced in 1871, and were later widened to include Easter and Christmas.

This collection looks back at how people have spent these days off, and reveals how some features remain constant (traffic and ice cream) while others have fallen out of favour (May Queens and Easter bonnets).

However, one thing remains consistent throughout - the determination to have a good time.

1940s and 1950s

The way we choose to spend our precious time off says a lot about us.

Whether your day off is spent at the seaside, mostly in a traffic jam, catching up with DIY or at the shops, this collection shows the changing face of Britain at play.

London August Bank Holiday, 1949
video
A March Easter, 1951
video
Holiday Weekend: The Lighter Side, 1951
video
Day trippers, 1951
video
Christmas comes but once a year, 1951
video
News - 1952 gets a noisy welcome
video
August festivities, 1954
video
No-passport trip to Boulogne, 1957
video
Easter Monday walk, 1958
video
Eye to Eye - The Big Gamble, 1957
video

1960s and 1970s

More cars meant more Bank Holiday gridlock. By the end of the 1970s the foreign package holiday had truly arrived, but a traditional seaside getaway was still as attractive as ever.

Easter traffic, 1961
video
May Day in Devon, 1961
video
Holiday roads of the future, 1964
video
24 Hours - Welsh New Year, 1966
video
Holiday crowds ignore recession, 1966
video
The 50 bob challenge, 1966
video
Southend holiday, 1973
video
Spring in Scarborough, 1976
video
A Fair Fortnight, 1977
video
First official May Day bank holiday, 1978
video
Choice - Holiday Camps, 1966
video

1980s and beyond

While features such as traffic and ice cream remained the same, things like May Queens and Easter bonnets have fallen out of favour. However, one thing remains consistent throughout - the determination to have a good time.

Nationwide - Scarva, 1981
video
Bank Holiday Fair, 1983
video
Carnival preparations, 1983
video
News - Notting Hill Carnival, 1984
video
St Patrick's Day, 1987
video
Newsnight - May Day, 1993
video
Gridlock: Bank Holiday Hell, 2000
video

More archive things

Around the UK
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Transport and travel
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Society and welfare
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