The mills were a very social place. There was a huge sense of camaraderie amongst the workers; many were close friends and would help each other out. They formed sports clubs and societies, such as rounders, football and cricket. Matches would be played at dinnertime or at the weekends. After the matches, the groups would socialise and this is one of the ways that the women in the mill met their husbands.
Special occasions would also be celebrated in the mills. They would be decorated for Christmas, Guild celebrations or coronations.
In Lancashire, there was the annual tradition of the ‘Wakes Week’. In summer, mills would close, whole towns would shut down, and mill workers would go on holiday if they could afford to. The main resorts were Blackpool, Southport and Morecambe as they were easiest to get to by train. It was estimated that approximately 7 million people visited Blackpool in the 1930s. There was a sense of community on holiday and many forms of entertainment; dances, photographers, fortune tellers and tearooms.
Maureen Dobson (pictured, third on the right) recalls an outing to Blackpool with her friends.
The arrival of cinema in many towns provided a new working class social habit. It was a place for young people to go with their friends or as couples, and most would go at least once a week. It was cheaper than the theatre and for many married women, an excuse to keep their husbands out of the pub.
In the 1920s, there was a ‘dance mania’ developing which led to a rapid increase in people attending dances and the amount of dance halls. Work firms, organisations, clubs and churches also held dances. Additionally, ‘dance trains’ were established; specially scheduled journeys taking young people to Blackpool to dance in the Tower and Empress Ballrooms and then bringing them home. Dances were seen as important as they were a controlled place for young men and women to meet.