Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Jolly Fisherman, Skegness

click photo to enlarge
In the middle ages the Lincolnshire town of Skegness suffered from the depredations of the sea. Buildings were lost, and its continuance was precarious. But, it survived and its medieval church can still be seen. In the early nineteenth century the town gained some standing as a desirable resort for the well-to-do. However, most of Skegness's growth came after the arrival of the railway in 1876 when a conscious decision was made to develop the town as a seaside resort.

Under the direction of the major landowner, the Earl of Scarborough, the expansion of Skegness was planned on a grid and developed quite slowly, with wide avenues, tree planting and monuments. Only when the area fronting the sea was bought by the town council in 1921 did the brash resort that we see today begin to appear. Not that there hadn't been a concerted effort in the earlier years of the twentieth century to attract visitors.

In 1908 the London and North Eastern Railway company commissioned the illustrator, John Hassall, to produce a poster to advertise Skegness. His creation, for which he was paid twelve guineas, has become one of the best known seaside advertising posters in Britain. The "jolly fisherman" character that it features, as well as the slogan, "Skegness is so bracing", became so closely associated with the town they that have been used in the original form and in several updated-versions almost without interruption over the past century. Hassall's first, hand-painted poster is now displayed in Skegness Town Hall. The jolly fisherman continues to be used on many souvenirs and advertisements for the town, and in recent years has been made the centrepiece of a fountain in one of the sea-front gardens.I took this contre-jour photograph of the prancing figure on top of the cascading water, positioning myself so that the aircraft vapour trails framed the silhouetted fisherman like Hollywood searchlights. It's hard to predict the outcome with photographs that include the sun in the frame, but I've shot enough of this kind of image to know that even the big white orb and lens flare don't detract from the impact and drama that can be achieved by photographing against the light.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 38mm
 F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/2000 sec
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On