THESE groups of people were off on their summer holiday at the sunny Yorkshire seaside.

Having to wear headscarves and macs and use umbrellas clearly didn’t dampen their spirits — they all had smiles on their faces and sturdy suitcases packed. You can almost hear them thinking: ‘Scarborough here we come’, while refusing to give a hoot about having to wear a hat.

The photographs shown here date back to July 1970, and one is of a happy gang of holiday-makers snapped at the local railway station, just before departure.

They were gearing up to leaving behind domestic drudgery for a week of well-deserved downtime, and swapping work and school for some much-needed R&R.

All this may put you in mind of the old Wakes Weeks, when Lancashire towns, such as Bury, would all but close down for seven days and whole mill towns would up sticks to the seaside.

Mills and factories would come to a standstill, machines would fall silent and shutters would rattle on down, turning towns like Bury into ghost towns.

Wakes Weeks started to be on the wane from the 1960s as staggered holidays became all the rage — but it was a strong tradition, even an institution, for centuries.

The idea of a week’s — unpaid — holiday for mill workers apparently dates back to around 1870. With all the mills closed, other businesses saw trade plummet and felt forced to follow suit. Then it was the annual exodus. Carts would be pressed into service as “people carriers” for day trips to newly fashionable seaside resorts, along with special Wakes’ excursion trains to similar destinations.

To fund these jolly outings, workers would save all year in excursion funds. As time went by, families started to extend these trips to a whole week of “taking the sea air” and “clearing the lungs”, while also enjoying the end-of-pier entertainment in places like Morecambe and Blackpool. They soon realised that they did, indeed, like to be beside the seaside. A lot. In turn, these holiday resorts boomed.

Even centuries before the industrial revolution, each mill town celebrated “the wakes” — likely to have had religious origins — in one form or another.

Little wonder then that once the mill clock started to rule people’s lives, most workers clung on to the annual week off work with all their might — it was their only time off apart from Good Friday, Christmas Day and Sundays. There was little owners of mills and factories could do. They could only shrug their shoulders and lock the gates for a week as workers would simply not turn up for work.

We may have more exotic holiday destinations and more frequent breaks these days. But it’s unlikely the holiday spirit was ever more alive and joyous than during those wonderful Wakes Weeks of the past.