Nostalgic photographs of British tourists during the golden era of package holidays

A new book by Hoxton Mini Press transports us to the heyday of British package holidays in Mallorca, captured through the lens of Trevor Clark. Curated by his son Jake Clark, the collection serves as a poignant retrospective on a transformative period in tourism.

In the mid-20th century, the trend of jetting off to the Mediterranean for a holiday gained immense popularity among Brits seeking sun-soaked adventures at an affordable price. A captivating new book filled with Trevor Clark’s vintage photographs and published by Hoxton Mini Press transports readers back to that vibrant period.

Curated by Jake Clark with a foreword by Jan-Carlos Kucharek, The Package Holiday delves into a bygone era characterised by leisurely days by the hotel pool, refreshing drinks, and endless sunshine, all captured through Trevor Clark’s lens in Mallorca.

Mallorca, a prime destination of the time, enticed visitors with its warm climate, stunning shorelines, and lively culture. The advent of budget-friendly air travel in the 1960s and ’70s led to a tourism boom on the island, prompting the rapid development of hotels and resorts to accommodate the growing number of holidaymakers.

Clark, seizing the opportunity, opened a commercial studio in Mallorca during this period. Using Ektachrome film and a Hasselblad camera, he meticulously documented the leisure and luxury enjoyed by British tourists, adorned in brightly coloured speedos, slathered in factor two suncream, and lounging with a cocktail and cigarette by a chlorinated pool while the kids learn archery.

Jake Clark, an artist and lecturer with deep personal ties to Mallorca, curated his late father’s photographs as a tribute to the work and the epoch it represents. Reflecting on the collection, Jake views it as both a personal journey through memories of “sunburnt childhoods and boozy parents” and a broader exploration of travel’s evolution. He has spent over two decades narrowing down thousands of transparencies, selecting images that resonate with him and that he wishes to transform into paintings. His favourite? “There is an image of a waiter in a wood-panelled pool bar,” Jake tells Creative Boom. “The composition, people’s expressions and flash photography give it real atmosphere.”

The carefully chosen selection highlights the era’s iconic trends, from bold swimwear and minimal sun protection to poolside cocktails, capturing the playful and somewhat kitschy essence of a time when international travel became more accessible to all. Jake notes the irony in his father’s dedication to capturing these holiday scenes without ever taking such holidays himself, a testament to his commitment to his craft. “He was too busy working,” says Jake, explaining that his father’s photographs often graced the brochures of major travel companies like Thomas Cook.

Today, Mallorca and the package holiday scene have transformed significantly. Gone are the days when you could book a break via Teletext and enjoy a week’s escape for the price of a weekly food shop today, staying in the same skyrise hotel with nightly entertainment. In the 2020s, there’s a new emphasis on sustainable tourism that focuses on local culture and cuisine. Despite these changes, the core desire for a break from the ordinary, to explore new places and experiences, remains unchanged, simply reimagined for the modern traveller.

The Package Holiday: 1968—1985 is a nostalgic journey through a pivotal chapter in British travel history, celebrating the discovery of new destinations and the enduring pleasures of sun, sea, and sangria. Through this collection, Jake Clark not only reconnects with his father’s legacy but also shares a slice of history that continues to resonate with today’s travel culture, reminding us of the timeless allure of adventure and relaxation.

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