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Locos and Lemon Tops

Locos and Lemon Tops exhibition poster for Head of Steam - Darlington Railway Museum.

This month we are shining a light on one of our newly opened exhibitions at Head of Steam – Darlington Railway Museum. Holidays to the seaside are a big part of many of our lives, from children excited to going to the beach to spending time with the family, fish and chips, arcades, and the all-important ice-cream. Many people shared their memories of seaside holidays for the exhibition, and we will be sharing some of their stories here too.

Image showing the beach secen created at Head of Steam - Darlington Railway Museum for their seaside holiday exhibition. Two deck chairs are sitting on a floor of sand with beach towels thrown over them, a radio sits in the middle of the chairs and a small crate has been turned upside down to create a table where two white enamel mugs stand with a blue coffee pot, a newspaper and a cupcake with a cherry on top sits on the newspaper. The background is a painted mural of ocean waves.

A beach scene with two deck chairs, towels, radio and a picnic on display at Head of Steam – Darlington Railway Museum for their Loco and Lemon Tops exhibition. Image courtesy of Head of Steam – Darlington Railway Museum.


Seaside holidays started to become popular in the Victorian era, when new train lines meant that those living in towns and cities could get to the coast quicker and easier. From 1846, people in neighbouring towns could visit the sands at Redcar and being by the sea was thought to be good for health, leading many coastal towns becoming spa towns – places to go to revitalize yourself. The seaside town of Saltburn-by-the-sea was created by Henry Pease in 1861 and boasted a long pier and promenade for people to take leisurely walks in their best clothes.


A case in the Loco and Lemon Tops exhibition with a photograph of Henry Pease in the centre. His phot shows him front onwards, head and shoulders view. He has a friendly face, long nose, grey thick hair parted at the side and he is wearing a tall collar and cravat. On one side of the photo of Henry Pease is a large silver fruit bowl belonging to the Railways at Saltburn. Opposite is a Saltburn by the sea guide booklet, showing two art deco ladies in white swim suites. One woman stands talk among a blue background and the other is sat at her feet, legs stretched out looking up.

Objects on display in the Loco and Lemon Tops exhibition, including an art deco holiday booklet for Saltburn, a photograph of Henry Pease, and a fruit bowl from the Zetland Hotel in Saltburn. Image courtesy of Head of Steam – Darlington Railway Museum.


From the early 1900s holiday handbooks were produced as guides for people visiting the towns as well as railway posters advertising these glorious beaches. Railway posters produced some iconic pieces of artwork that had a distinctive style of its own that’s instantly recognisable.

Have a look at some of the wonderful objects on display in the exhibition below!

Reminiscence for the project saw members of the public share their experiences of holidays by the seaside. Some of their stories are below.

“I always ended up in the lost children’s room because I was following the donkeys at Redcar on a Sunday school trip.” – Ann

“First two weeks of September holiday at Barkers Field caravan site. Train from Thornaby to Redcar, mam, dad, five kids and a silver cross pram with my youngest sister. We walked back and forth from the station with large luggage for two weeks!”


Holiday handbook for the LNER produced in 1938. the front cover is presented in the railway poster style and shows two small boys playing in the sand, the background it block coloured out blue and yeallow.


Locos and Lemon Tops is on display at Head of Steam – Darlington Railway Museum from Saturday 25th June to Sunday 4th September. For information on how to visit please see here.