Victorians and Edwardians Abroad


Victorians and Edwardians Aboard

by Neil Mathews



This is a book about a school and its accidental invention of a touring company called Polytechnic Touring Association. Through beautiful color photographs, a sample of their news letters, some vintage advertisements and first hand accounts, we are led through a change in society that now has a need for “rational recreation”.
Victorian and Edwardians Abroad is lovely snapshot into the socioeconomic conditions of Late Victorian and Edwardian society. We often take for granted the ability to go on vacation. This book highlights the emerging middle classes that were able to go on a vacation and newly available free time due to industrialization and new labor laws. It is quite interesting to see the response of the church and other organizations coming into being for the express purpose of keeping people out of trouble with their new spare time.
If anyone has done any research into their family tree, usually at some point we see a occupation of clerk. It’s such a nondescript job title. There is actually a fair amount of information about the general population and what their earnings and job titles actually were. This is discussed to get a better sense of the demographic that went on the polytechnic tours. In so doing, a lovely picture of society is illustrated of both men and women.
Overall, I thought this book was pretty good. It would be especially interesting to people doing Family Historical Research, or interested in the attitude of leisure time of the Late Victorians and Edwardians.

Victorians and Edwardians abroad: the beginning of the modern holiday reveals a story never told before: the early years of one of Britain s leading modern travel agencies, the Polytechnic Touring Association (PTA). Created in 1888 within Britain s first Polytechnic, the PTA was an emblem of the era. It served a growing mass of middle-class and lower middle-class consumers, who found for the first time that they had the time and money to take extended holidays, often abroad. This book explains the creation of the Polytechnic and the PTA, charting the expansion of the travel agency into continental Europe and beyond.

Victorians and Edwardians abroad uncovers the recollections of those who went on Poly holidays before 1914: how they experienced the journeys, what they did when they reached their destinations and what they thought holidays should be about. For all the serious strictures from their social betters about the educational and improving aspects of travel, PTA holiday makers enjoyed themselves: liberating pork pies from train carriages, annoying foreign policemen and even beating the German Emperor to the last horses in town. Letters, articles and diaries of Poly holidays reveal a penchant for fun, even naughtiness, not often associated with the Victorians and Edwardians. Also included are a selection of postcards, photographs and promotional items from the PTA archives. Victorians and Edwardians abroad is a fascinating glimpse into holidays as they were, just over a hundred years ago.”