By Lucinda Gosling
|This is a delightful collection of photographs of people enjoying the British seaside in the early part of the twentieth century. The pictures are excellent quality. I found myself combing these pictures, looking in the background to see what they are eating, what they are wearing. I am the kind of person that likes to go to look at the beach; I don’t want to sit in the sand. Most of the people here are in full suits and hats. Social etiquette is quite visible in the stance of these people sitting proudly for their picture. Also, the amount of stuff they took to the beach is hilarious. I complain with my super lightweight compact chair and everything else we lug with us. There are full tents and wooden chairs. One picture that absolutely love is of a lady and a piano standing on the beach in the sand. They are set up to entertain. Can you imagine? The sights and sounds. They don’t have a mp3 player. They drug an entire piano and the singer out and she is dressed in a full dress with frills.
This is great for anyone interested in History, Photography, or if you love the beach or had beach vacations as a child. I’m obviously American and my beach “holidays” were mostly in Florida. It seems the beach experience has some universality. I showed this to my three and four year old.
Drawing on the archives of Mary Evans Picture Library, ‘Images of the Past – The British Seaside’ is a nostalgic promenade through the history of Britain’s seaside resorts from their early genesis as health destinations to their glorious, mid-20th century heyday, subsequent decline and recent regeneration.
British coastal resorts developed during a period of vast expansion and social change. Within a century, the bathing phenomenon changed from a cautiously modest immersion in the sea to a pastime that prompted the building of vast art deco temples dedicated to the cult of swimming. Once quiet fishing villages mushroomed into bustling seafronts with every conceivable amusement and facility to entice visitors and secure their loyalty for future visits. Where transport to the coast may have once been via coach and horses or boat, soon thousands of working class day-trippers flooded seaside towns, arriving by the rail network that had so quickly transformed the British landscape. This fascinating book follows these shifts and changes from bathing machines to Butlin’s holiday camps, told through a compelling mix of photographs, cartoons, illustrations and ephemera with many images previously unpublished.
Covering every aspect of the seaside experience whether swimming and sunbathing or sand castles and slot machines ‘The British Seaside’ reveals the seaside’s traditions, rich heritage and unique character in all its sandy, sunny, fun-packed glory.