The Uniqueness of the English Seaside and the Quirky Characters that inhabit it.
Updated: Jul 2, 2021
Part One of Two: Of Chalets & Beach Huts
Like many other folk, my experience of the English Seaside started young, very young in fact as my Mother was born in the coastal port of Whitby, renowned for Captain Cook, Dracula and Heartbeat. Her father was the Town Treasurer and her parents lived in a romantic, but windswept house on the cliff top. I recall taking boats to the local boating lake with my father and younger brother followed by yummy lemon buns from Bothams bakery or perhaps fishing off the pier for Codling. There are many other stories to be told from that time, perhaps accompanied by images, but that is for another Blog. Today, I am fortunate to live near the coast in Cornwall which has it's own unique blend of busy resorts, surf paradises and hidden fishing coves. Again, the subject of many other Blogs to come. Today, I will focus on the small resort of Sutton-on-Sea, the home of my partner's Mother and her husband. It is one of a string of coast-hugging communities in the county of Lincolnshire. Traditionally it is seen as a retirement community in the winter and the source of cheap holidays for the nearby conurbations of the East Midlands with vast Caravan parks filled with Static Caravans and Park Homes. The overall image is a down-market one, perhaps of lower middle and working class. But things are changing as the image below demonstrates.
The Norfolk coast further south and the Yorkshire one to the north have both already experienced the invasions of Volvo estate driving middle class incomers, now it looks as though the flatlands of Lincolnshire are to be next. So, is that a bad thing, or just the inevitable consequence of recognising the value of what is there? Regardless, it marks a change and despite the anxiety often linked with change, the likelihood is that this will improve things. Change is however the consequence for those who have made this corner of Lincolnshire their home. They are a varied and hardy bunch however, which is what gives the place it's charm despite a lack of what is often seen essential for a seaside resort, ie beautiful scenery. The coastline is flat and straight, the sea muddy and inland Caravan parks stretch as far as the eye can see. Yet despite this apparent monotony, there are sparks of individuality as the images below will demonstrate. Whilst some beach huts are evidently unloved and suffering from the effects of winter storms and mindless vandals, others are immaculate and there is a genuine sense of pride in ownership. Millie and her husband below seen below in front of their immaculate Beach hut told me of their ongoing battle against not only winter storms which batter this part of the world, but also the effect of mindless drunken vandalism by ill-educated residents of the nearby Caravan parks fuelled by cheap alcohol on sale in the local Clubs.
That individuality doesn't end there, a look around the village reveals shops selling a cornucopia of bric-a-brac, memorabilia and curios and the village Church unusually has a Spire built of bricks, but it is leaning at an angle reminiscent of the famous Tower in Pisa.
One thing that piqued my curiosity, more than anything was the car in the gallery above. A VW fastback from the early 1970's it looks to be in a sorry state with metal dissolving into rust. Yet closer examination revealed that there is a notice placed on the dashboard firmly refuting the notion the car is destined for the scrapyard. This curiosity resulted in me finding out more about the car and it's owner, the results of which you will see in the second part of this Blog with more Beach Huts and all images rendered in colour.
All these sets of images were taken using my Bronica ETRS, my latest film camera which I am very pleased with, bridging the quality gap between 35mm and large format, yet still having that unmistakable filmic look. Film Stock was Fomapan home-developed in Rodinal and scanned on my Epson V850. I will be making selected images available in my store, but be quick as there will be very few of each available to purchase. As ever thanks for reading, liking or commenting and see you in the next one!