The Seaside

Scarborough and Bridlington – A photographer’s paradise

I never really had holidays as a kid. No transport, no father, and no money. The closest we got was the ‘club trip’. Once a year, members and their relatives from the local Working Men’s Club were bundled onto a coach that invariably smelled of disinfectant and headed for the seaside. Scarborough or Bridlington on the Yorkshire coast was the most likely destination. Blackpool was a little too far and some kid would inevitably throw up so it was usually avoided.

Bridlington fairground ride out of season 1980s
Bridlington fairground ride – out of season 1980s

Even then there was something that seemed quaintly old-fashioned about these places. But they had a certain charm and, for quite a few people it was one of the big events of the year.

When I got into photography these were the places I used to head to with the camera. Boats in the harbour made for easy photos, of course, but I become more interested in the people there. I was fascinated by how they seemed to be trying so hard to enjoy themselves. They had paid good money to be there so it had to be good. Parents would march their kids up and down the sea-front whatever the weather, gradually becoming more and more stressed as the kids got tired.

Scarborough, summer 2017
Scarborough, summer 2017

Out of season was my favourite. They became totally different places. Nowadays, of course, there is no real ‘close-season’ – whatever the day, whatever the weather, people are there ‘enjoying’ themselves.

We recently spent a few days in the Scarborough area in October. In many ways little has changed. Despite some redevelopment, there’s still the amusement arcades, the sea-food stalls, and the boat trips that they had when I was a kid. Even the cafes still offer the ‘pensioner’s special’ – fish and chips with a slice of bread and a cup of tea.

These seaside towns will be like this forever, always old-fashioned, always popular, always great for photography.

Bridlington harbour photo
Living on the edge, Bridlington
The Seaside 1
A political statement, Bridlington 2019
The Seaside 2
Bridlington 2017
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Scarborough wildlife, 2019
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Scarborough 2019
The Seaside 5
Amusements, Scarborough 2019
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Scarborough, October 2019
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Scarborough 1990s
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Scarborough, 1980s
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Marine Drive, Scarborough 1980s

4 thoughts on “The Seaside”

  1. Richard Tierney

    Superb John. Like I have said before elsewhere.. you to me, are one of the countries leading social historical recording photographers. I wonder where you would have been if instead of working in the coal industry you had become a photographer all those years ago… Perhaps working in the coal industry and seeing and living with good decent hardworking people, gave you that insight into their lives and how to photograph them so well….

    Great article, will look forward to more of these and trust you become widely recognised in the photographic and social history fields in the coming years….

    1. Thank you, Richard.
      I don’t think I was one of the hard-working ones – I used to shut myself in my office and write 🙂

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