There is a powerful sense of place at the seaside. You know what to expect. Fishing villages usually have a pier, boats, lobster pots, and masses of seagulls while resort towns have esplanades, piers, grand hotels and gardens.
Certain seaside towns have just about everything: Weymouth, for example, has a grand parade of hotels, a wide esplanade and a small fishing village. Blackpool has more of everything – three piers, miles of hotels, the Tower, Winter Gardens, trams, illuminations – but no fishing and no castle!
There is something about the seaside that brings out the beating heart of John Bull in the English: doggedly erecting our wind-breaks to capture every vestige of a watery sun; wrestling with deckchairs; wrapping up against the determined wind on the verandas of our beach huts; accepting that ‘sand’ in ‘sandwich’ means just that! But we still love it and nowhere else in the world can match its myriad charms and eccentricities.
For too long the English seaside has suffered from bad press, accused of being tatty, cold grey and windswept. Peter Williams’ evocative photographs in this fully revised edition of his acclaimed book will make you want to rediscover what a fantastic place the seaside is – full of character, charm and ‘Englishness’.
It tells the story almost entirely in photographs after a foreword, and captures well the atmosphere of seaside towns, whether sedate or raucous, their views, amenities and curious quirks.
Mark Smulian, Journal of the Islington Archaeology & History Society