The Beach 19th Century

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‘The seaside was never a place of escape – it has always been a place with its own strict codes of behaviour.’ Do you agree?

What is meant by a code of behaviour? This is a question that can be applied to the way we act and present ourselves in every environment and situation that we find ourselves in daily. What may be socially acceptable to one group may well be frowned upon or even vilified by others. Our behaviour within society has almost certainly changed from generation to generation and a good indicator for this has been the perceived behaviour and appearance when on holiday by the seaside.

The way the British and European populace has dress for the beach has been dictated by two main factors, our class back ground and generation timelines. When trips to the beach for recreation reasons were first undertaken it was very much only the middle and upper classes within society who could afford to do so. It was therefore the elite members of the populace that set the standards of behaviour and bearing that were to be expected. As we will see later, it was only when the working and lowers classes began to undertake trips to seaside resorts, that these standards were to be compromised. Class has also been a good indicator of the attire that one wears. During the late 19th century all classes of society used the way they presented at the beach to achieve two main aims: to feel special and also to impress their friends and strangers (Place and Leisure p.133). People would certainly use their class status and therefore dress to impress. Upper and middle classes appeared too overdressed and they could afford to do so. The working or lower classes could afford to be less choosey and often wore their best working or Sunday clothes. It was therefore possible to see many forms of dress on the main promenade and the beach itself. William Porters 1965 guide to Blackpool points out that all walks of life can be seen walking, sitting, reclining and riding ‘in every...
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