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  • Writer's pictureSteve Gemmell

Great British Seaside

Walton on Naze Tendring Essex
Walton On Naze

During the 1970s and the 1980s I worked in the area of Tendring in Essex. Clacton on Sea was often visited during my working day and for a period in the late 1980s I worked in an office in Clacton and lived in nearby Walton on Naze. The demographic for this coastal area consists of a high percentage of retired people. However during the summer months, if the weather was good, there is always an influx of day trippers and holiday makers, eager to enjoy all that the great British seaside has to offer.

During my visits I often carried a film camera with me.

Looking out to sea Clacton on Sea Essex

Everyone is unique and I have always been interested in observing people in everyday life. Postures, movements, nonverbal and verbal behaviours, all can be observed. Watching people, has always intrigued me from a photographic point of view.

Reading Sunday Morning Papers Walton on Naze
Sunday Morning Papers

During a morning stroll along Walton’s promenade I caught this group relaxing with the Sunday papers in the morning sunshine. The now defunct News of the World is the paper of choice here. It was at one time the world's highest-selling English-language newspaper, and at closure still had one of the highest English-language circulations. It’s staple content of crime, sensation and vice were the themes that would sell most copies. If you zoom in on the content you will see what I mean.

Reading Sunday Morning Papers Walton on Naze

It’s rare for British summers to be hot enough to warm the sea to any temperature above “freezing cold”. But that has never stopped us bravely or sometimes cautiously, venturing in.

Family entering the sea

Family enjoying the sea

Children jumping and splashing in sea

Couple standing in sea

untidy sunbathing on concrete

Older local retired residents enjoy the peace and solitude that the coastal views can offer.

Lady on bench at Great British seaside

Lady on bench looking out to see

Couple on bench at seaside

Drinking tea on greensward by great british seaside

Someone had gotten into difficulty here and thankfully and the rescue services were on hand to help.

Emergency on beach Clacton on sea

Frinton on Sea always had a more sedate atmosphere compared to Walton and Clacton. In the first half of the 20th century the town attracted visitors from high society. Connaught Avenue was nicknamed East Anglia's Bond Street at one time. Winston Churchill rented a house here. I assisted in the 1991 census for Frinton and was surprised at the number of houses that were empty second homes. This image shows a large group setting up for a picnic on the huge greensward which overlooks the sea.

Picnic on greensward at Frinton on Sea

My final picture was taken many years earlier, most likely Cornwall. I have included it simply because photographically I like the dramatic back lighting.

Most likely this year will be a bumper year for the Great British Seaside given the restrictions and reluctance for overseas travel. Maybe we will see a return to the 1950s and 1960s when it was unusual for families to holiday abroad and everyone stayed in the UK.

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