TRAVEL IN WALES (continued)

Contents of this section

Holiday Travel
The Roads
Air Travel
The Future

Holiday Travel

In the years between the wars people flocked to the coastal areas. Hotels and boarding houses flourished by offering accommodation for the family. Holiday camps like Butlins, though they acquired an image of enjoy yourself or else, with their programmes of organised fun, they undoubtedly were popular with families who wanted to escape from the regime of having to look after and entertain their children. Caravanning had started before the Second World War but on a small scale. After the war because of the shortage of housing many caravan sites came into being catering not only for holidaymakers but also for larger caravans that were almost immobile once placed in position. More and more luxurious models which had every appliance for cooking and storing food were a far cry from the make shift pre-war wooden and ply wood 'vans.

Campers who relied on the protection of a canvas tent endured a more spartan way of life. Less restricted in where they sited their fold up home, these campers carried their belongings in the side cars of motor cycles, in panniers on the sides of their cycles, and, of course, in ruck sacks on their backs. The Welsh countryside still offers many places of scenic beauty, which can be explored on foot. The restriction is the vagaries of weather in Great Britain.

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The Roads

There was growing prosperity after the war, in spite of the losses of Wales's once dominant industries like coal mining and steel manufacture. People began to have their own cars and wanted to be able to travel where fancy took them. Road building blossomed with the motorway network which made road transport even more attractive than the railway. The M1 was the first motorway in Britain, many years after the autobahns in Germany and freeways in America. South Wales benefits from the M4 extension with the road bridge over the Severn. Other bridges and tunnels in Britain have tolls. Our motorways are free at present, but each new road that is opened costs the government millions of pounds. Adding more and more to pollution caused by exhaust fumes and congestion grows in every place where local traffic competes with the mass of heavy vehicles trying to pass through narrow streets.

Once roads only had to cope with the occasional stagecoach and horse drawn carriages. Pedestrians wandered where they wished, but now it is a struggle to survive.
Traffic lights came, to replace the arm waving policeman, Belisha beacons and black and white marked road crossings gave refuge to walkers wanting to cross the road. Now there are so called pelican crossings with lights that are controlled by pedestrians themselves. Even more vexing to the motorist is the lack of sufficient parking areas in towns where space is limited.

Hypermarkets away from town centres offering easy and free parking have reduced the amount of trade that small shops once enjoyed. This is a problem that merits discipline on the part of everyone not only the town dwellers but also those who live in the less populated places.

Bus transport is a worthwhile alternative for they can carry far more people wishing to shop in town. We are cajoled and enticed, especially at busy holiday periods like Xmas, to leave our cars at home. Rail travel has diminished where long distances are covered. Fares have increased and although the modern diesel and electric trains are as fast or faster than steam locomotives, the convenience has diminished where access to main line stations is concerned. Coach travel is cheaper and modern vehicles have on board videos and toilet facilities.

But here again the motor coach is susceptible to temptation on the part of operators where speed sometime overcomes the need for safety.

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Air Travel

Wales has many small airfields. Some were a legacy of wartime use by the R.A.F. Cardiff Airport has international status, not as busy as Heathrow or Gatwick but it does offer opportunities travel abroad. Private flying in Great Britain, though popular, does not have the development that has taken place in larger and more wide spread countries like the United States and Canada. Helicopter travel is becoming more available for business people who have to commute from their industrial bases.

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The Future

What of the future? Time travel like that suggested by H.G.Wells in his book 'The Time Machine' or later by the Welsh author Islwyn Ffowc Elis in his novel 'Wythnos yng Nghymru Fydd' (A Week in Wales of the Future) published first in 1957. Elis prophesied in one version of his Wales of the future, that vehicles in large towns would be controlled automatically by a computer which would taken account of other traffic. He had visions of atomic power engines in his vehicles something that at present is fraught with difficulties. Although satellite navigation systems are now available in the 1990s as yet the proposed automatic control of buses in special lanes has to find acceptance.

A retrograde step it would seem is the re-introduction of tramways in some cities. The tracks are routed through special clear zones so that the carriages do not compete with other traffic. More countries have developed underground railways or metros, but tunnelling below ground is extremely expensive yet in large cities like London this is possibly the only way to extend the movement of commuting office workers.

In the olden days in Wales people did not move beyond the valley in which they were born. Miners and quarry men walked to work. Nowadays a new way of working at home called 'teleworking' is available. Modern computer operation does not need more than a telephone link for worldwide communication over the Internet. Many workers do their daily tasks at a V.D.U terminal, without moving from their home. Managing their working hours to suit other activities such as looking after children. Shopping can be simply looking at a screen showing what is for sale. Ordering is just selection of an item and paying by quoting a credit card number.
These are alternatives in restricting the need for movement of people but one cannot imagine any great reduction in the demand for travel. The explosion of global population numbers and the demand for third world countries to catch up with the economies of richer countries, will exacerbate the demand for fossil fuels which must have a finite source. Friends of the Earth warn of the consequences of global warming from the release into the atmosphere of ever increasing amounts of pollutants.

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