Saturday, March 25, 2006

Modernising the seaside resort

click photo to enlarge
The seaside resorts of Britain first came to life as tourist destinations in the late eighteenth century. But it wasn't until, in the nineteenth century, when the industrial revolution began to put increasing amounts of money into the pockets of the growing working and middle-classes that they really took off. In the north of England each resort pitched itself at different segments of the market. Scarborough and Southport aimed mainly for the middle classes: Blackpool and Morecambe sought to attract the mill workers and clerks from places like Manchester, Blackburn, and Burnley. And all were highly successful in their different ways.

The bigger seaside destinations had rail links to the major urban centres. Every summer holidaymakers poured out of the carriages and into the newly built boarding houses and hotels. They strolled along the promenades, took the sea air on the piers, and spent their money in the amusement arcades and shops. All was well for the towns until, in the second half of the twentieth century, people's horizons were extended by low cost package tours to exotic foreign destinations like Spain. And, from that point, the seaside towns have had to change and adapt. Some have been more successful than others, but all have experienced to a greater or lesser extent, decline, dereliction and decay. Blackpool and Morecambe are fighting back with short-break holidays and projects to lift the appearance of the towns. Both have undertaken major promenade refits, Morecambe's being themed on birds, and Blackpool's featuring art works celebrating the town's proletarian roots. More is being done, and is essential, if the resorts are to continue to flourish in the twenty first century.

This photograph shows a derelict arcade in Morecambe that is ripe for either development or demolition. Boarded up windows, water penetration and graffiti attract no one but the passing photographer! The symmetry, lighting and reflections in this scene appealed to me, and I waited for some people to pass before pressing the shutter. I chose black and white because it seemed to highlight the details and mood of the shot more than the original colour.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen