LONDON.- From dramatic coastlines and idyllic fishing villages to sea-bathing, promenades and donkey rides, the popularity of the seaside has led to its enduring status as a quintessential British experience.
The National Maritime Museum opened Beside the Seaside: snapshots of British coastal life, 1880-1950. The exhibition brings together photographs, posters and seaside memorabilia to capture the essence of both working life and early tourism along the British coast. More than 45 images are displayed from the Museum’s historical photographic collection, many for the first time.
The exhibition highlights the diversity of the British seaside holiday. Following the advent of the railways from the mid-nineteenth century quiet coastal settlements and towns such as Eastbourne and Scarborough were transformed into thriving holiday destinations, where beaches, piers, promenades and hotels were developed to cater for a range of tastes and budgets.
Beside the Seaside draws on images by Francis Frith & Co, part of the NMM's historic photographs collection. Frith (1822-1898) was a pioneering Victorian photographer whose passion for photography and travel led to him founding what eventually became the largest photographic publishing company in the world.
The gallery is divided into four main geographic areas covering South-East England and East Anglia, South-West England, North-West England and Wales. Beside the Seaside explores a diversity of activities along the British coast. Photographs range from those of fisherman sorting through the day’s catch to fashionable Edwardians relaxing under parasols by the sea to crowds of visitors enjoying the sunny piers and bustling promenades of popular holiday resorts.
Francis Frith (1822-1898) was a pioneering Victorian photographer. Born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, to a Quaker family, his interest in photography began in the 1840s, when it was still a new technology. Having made his fortune in the wholesale grocery business and as a printer, Frith was able to combine his love for photography with his thirst for travel. From 1856 to 1860, he made three tours to the Middle East and Africa, and took his photographic equipment with him.