There is a powerful sense of place at
the seaside. You know what to expect. Fishing villages usually have
a pier, boats, lobster pots, and masses of seagulls while resort
towns have esplanades, piers, grand hotels and gardens.
Certain seaside towns have just
about everything: Weymouth, for example, has a grand parade of
hotels, a wide esplanade and a small fishing village. Blackpool has
more of everything - three piers, miles of hotels, the Tower, Winter
Gardens, trams, illuminations - but no fishing and no castle!
There is something about the
seaside that brings out the beating heart of John Bull in the
English: doggedly erecting our wind-breaks to capture every vestige
of a watery sun; wrestling with deckchairs; wrapping up against the
determined wind on the verandas of our beach huts; accepting that
'sand' in 'sandwich' means just that! But we still love it and
nowhere else in the world can match its myriad charms and
eccentricities. For too long the English seaside has suffered from
bad press, accused of being tatty, cold grey and windswept.
Peter Williams's evocative
photographs in this fully revised edition of his acclaimed book will
make you want to rediscover what a fantastic place the seaside is -
full of character, charm and 'Englishness'.