Before the invention of the ‘package holiday’ made international travel for holidays a common occurrence, a break for Britons tended to mean just one thing: an English seaside resort.
With the invention of the railways a trip to the seaside became a possibility for millions. For those living in the filthy, choking conditions of cities such as Manchester and London during the industrial revolution the appeal was clear.
The idea of going to an English seaside town for a holiday fell out of vogue during the second half of the 20th Century. It is however making something of a comeback. There are plenty of reasons for this. One is that air travel is once again becoming more expensive. Another is that the economy is continuing to falter, and consumers are less willing to splash out on a family holiday abroad. The most compelling reason however is the quality of the resorts themselves.
In great Britain you are never more than 74 miles from the coast. The sea and the coast has been a defining feature and a huge resource for the development of this island nation. There is a great deal of beauty and variety available in the seaside resorts today.
Traditionally Blackpool was the playground of Northern workers. It was hugely popular with people from cities such as Liverpool and Manchester who would flock there in their droves. The ‘Golden Mile’ was promoted heavily, as were the ‘Blackpool Illuminations’, the lights that are strung up along the seafront. Although these are now an elaborate affair, at the outset it was just the novelty of eight electric lights in one place.
Facing the cold and polluted Irish sea, the ‘seaside’ nature of Blackpool became much less attractive compared the beaches of Spain and elsewhere. The town has been able to reverse its fortunes somewhat by focusing on other things.
There is a huge amount of accommodation available in Blackpool, both hotels and B&Bs. This means that it is a popular choice for hosting events and conferences. There is also a thriving nightlife in Blackpool, bolstered by the Stag and Hen parties that come year round to tear things up away from the prying eyes of home.
Just a short journey away from London, Brighton has long been enjoyed by those from the Capital. The trend was set in part by royalty with King George IV (during his period in Regency) greatly favouring the city, and ordering construction of the ornate and striking Royal Pavilion.
In more recent times Brighton has built a reputation for its nightlife, and particularly its club scene. Norman ‘Fatboy Slim Cook’s club the Big Beat Boutique rose to international prominence during the ‘90s. Brighton is also known as the ‘gay capital’ of the UK, and is widely regarded as a place where different lifestyle s are celebrated.
Brighton has built a place for itself beyond the confines of leisure and tourism. Its location near London means that it is used by commuters, but it has been able to compete in its own right, with technology companies among other setting up shop in the city.
What are your favourite English seaside resorts? Would you ever consider taking your main holiday in one? Why not share your thoughts and memories down in Comment Town?