Saturday, April 22, 2006

Traditional beach huts

click photo to enlarge
At one point, in the 1970s and 1980s, it seemed as though beach huts would disappear from the British seaside. The fashion for foreign holidays meant that demand declined, maintenance was skimped, and many huts were either demolished or sold to private buyers. But, like many relics that manage to hang on after their time has passed, people have started to value them, and their fortunes have revived. It seems that many still want to rent a hut as a little base for their seaside days: somewhere to shelter from the showers, change for bathing, cook and eat a simple meal, and to sit outside to soak up the sun.

The styles and number of huts varies across the country. Those at Southwold in Suffolk are, perhaps, the most attractive, with their gable ends, gated verandahs and individual colours. The oldest, dating from around 1900, are almost certainly to be found at Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk. Bournemouth has the greatest individual concentration - approximately 1500 in total - with about 500 still owned by the local council. The newest are probably the seven, rather grand, architect-designed huts at Hornsea, East Yorkshire, completed in 2003.

So, what is distinctive about these beach huts at Mablethorpe in Lincolnshire. Well, they aren't the most attractive, but, like all the others they are wooden, next to the sea, and brightly painted. However, what distinguishes the 103 huts here is their level of equipment! Each has four deck chairs, a table, crockery, a sink and tap, and an electric kettle! And all for about £8.00 a day (reductions for a week)! If the British seaside holiday is to compete against foreign vacations based on cheap flights, then a distinctive experience needs to be offered. These huts, though cheap and cheerful, are a small part of what makes our seaside different.

This section of Mablethorpe's beach huts almost demanded a shot which emphasised the repetition of forms, so I used a long telephoto lens. I chose to make the colour split one third/two thirds, and include the orange painted promenade light as a bright highpoint to which the eye is directed. The small patch of yellow, repaired woodwork gave some necessary visual weight to the right side of the image.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen