By Liana Jacob
THE GLORY of Britain’s most popular seaside resorts in Britain have been celebrated in a new book that will leave you with bags of inspiration for our next big summer blowout.
Eye-catching pictures include stunning shots of Italian Garden, Metropole Hotel in Brighton that was first built in the 1960s, as well as a dramatic shot of the cliff edge of the Imperial Hotel in Torquay which was first opened in 1866.
The incredible images make up a book called Seaside Hotels by Karen Averby, who is also pictured as a child enjoying dinner at a grand Blackpool hotel in 1977. The book is published by Amberley Publishing.
“Until the eighteenth century the coast was very much the domain of fishermen and other sea-faring folk, and visiting for leisure and pleasure was unheard of,” Karen said.
“A transformation in the way the coast was used and perceived began in the seventeenth century when a desire for improved health and a belief in the therapeutic and curative nature of the seaside led to the development of the first coastal resorts in the eighteenth century.
“As inland spa resorts had become fashionable among the upper echelons of society, so too did sea resorts, where the medicinal cure-all properties of sea water were promoted by prominent physicians.”
However great these resorts look; their fortunes have not been without their ups and downs.
Other images from the book show the dramatics lows, such as the Luftwaffe bombing of the Metropole Hotel in Bournemouth on May 23, 1943, is illustrated in a historical image that shows the devastation that killed almost 200 people that were staying at the hotel.
A picturesque landscape of the Royal Pier Hotel in Ryde, 1905, is illustrated before it was demolished in a fatal bus crash in 1930, showing horse-drawn carriages with tourists riding in them.
However, into the twentieth century the UK saw the popularisation of seaside resorts, with Blackpool being one of the most visited. Blackpool catered for workers from across industrial Northern England, who packed its beaches and promenade.
During the Wakes week, a holiday period in parts of England and Scotland, particularly a strong tradition during the 19th and 20th centuries, other northern towns such as Bridlington, Cleethorpes, Morecambe, Scarborough, Skegness and Southport, shared Blackpool’s success, especially from trade.
“The practice of sea bathing in particular gained popularity as part of the growing pursuit of health, leisure and pleasure amongst wealthy, fashionable society and by the 1730s sea bathing seasons were emerging at Scarborough, Margate and Brighton,” Karen said.
“Trade and prosperity arising from the growth of fashionable watering places encouraged new building and by the later eighteenth century as coastal resorts grew from small settlements, lines of fine grand houses were purpose-built as seasonal accommodation.
“In time many inns raised standards to rival the private homes being leased. As the word ‘hotel’ came to be used for these better quality inns, established advertising themselves as such began to appear at resorts such as Blackpool, Margate and Brighton.”
As air travel became cheaper and more accessible in the 1960’s and 70’s foreign holidays became popular and some UK resorts experienced a period of decline. However, into the 21st Century, with the idea of the Staycation becoming fashionable, many seaside towns are experiencing a period of resurgence.
Seaside Hotels is published by Amberley Publishing and is available here: https://www.amberley-books.com/discover-books/general-history/seaside-hotels.html