‘Movement is Life. Stillness is the attribute of death. The stagnant pond collects the weed which will finally choke it, but the moving river clears itself’ (quoted in Matless, 1998, p.88)
Looking at the seaside resorts in today’s society, we find that season holidays where millions of people rush to through the summer period are associated simply with leisure and a chance to relax. The view and use of these resorts have changed over the centuries; seaside resorts have always been recreational environments although until the mid-19th century such recreations were a luxury only for wealthy individuals. The development of the beach as a popular leisure resort from the mid-19th century was the primary manifestation of what is now the global tourism industry.
The visits to the seaside have a long story (‘The origins of the seaside resort: 1750-1840’ – The Seaside, 2014); in Roman times these resorts were populated by wealthy people who were able to spend a lot of their time at leisure and had villas by the sea or made trips to the shores of the Mediterranean. Thereafter the seaside lost its attractions, becoming a working place rather than an entertaining place, however the seaside became popular again in the eighteenth century. ‘The idea of a seaside as a healthy place has a long history’ (Brunton, 2014, p. 170), doctors in the 1730 begun to recommend drinking and bathing in seawater; bathing at that time contrary to what we think today was considered a therapy where people bathed regularly under the careful eye of doctors. In those times bathing was not supposed to be pleasant as ‘doctors claimed that the beneficial effects came from the shock of immersion in cold water’ (Brunton, 2014, p. 170); it was simply viewed to be good for treating a wide range of diseases. Not only then was bathing considered healthy but also the air of the seaside was also considered useful to the restoration of health; by the end of the eighteenth century we see that bathing and visiting the seaside became quite fashionable. The need for people to come to these resorts to have a healthier life and cure illnesses drove the development of the first seaside resort. Because of the fact that the visits to these resorts were increasing the need to cater to people also increased. By the nineteenth century people who went to the seaside increased enormously, contrary to what was happening before, now visitors to the seaside were not ill but just wanted to boost their health and enjoy a holiday. Also another important factor for the increase of people coming to the seaside was due because of the railway system, ‘which transported large numbers of people cheaply and quickly’ (‘The rise of the seaside: 1840–1914’ – The Seaside, 2014). So bathing increased in popularity becoming a ‘part of popular medicine’ (Brunton, 2014, p. 171). From the 1870s onwards doctors treated patients with certain types of illnesses by exposing them to fresh air in the seaside and while visitors continued enjoying the air councils in resort towns started providing promenade with seats and by the end of the nineteenth century every seaside resort had a pier. By 1900 the seaside had become the place to spend holidays and by this time the old fashioned way of dressing for the seaside changed into a fashion; by now the seaside had developed its own culture as ‘swimming filled perfectly with the enthusiasm for outdoor exercises and was increasingly accessible to the general population’ (Brunton, 2014, p.174). While sick people carried on coming to the seaside to cure themselves, the majority of visitors now came for leisure and pleasure. In the late nineteenth century middle class visitors continued visiting the seaside while for most of the working people these trips were beyond their financial reach; from the 1880s a combination of paid holidays and cheap rail travels made it also possible for working class families to spend some quality time at the seaside making the...
Bibliography: Brunton, Deborah (2014) “The Healthy Seaside” AA100 Book 4 Place and Leisure, Milton Keynes, The Open University, p.170-171-173-174-179
Cross, G. (2014) “Worktowners at Blackpool” AA100 Book 4 Place and Leisure, Milton Keynes, The Open University, p.180
Pike, Jon (2014) “Leisure, laziness and feeling good” AA100 Book 4 Place and Leisure, Milton Keynes, The Open University, p.3
Aristotele (2014) “Work, leisure and play” AA100 Book 4 Place and Leisure, Milton Keynes, The Open University, p.32
‘The origins of the seaside resort: 1750-1840’ – The Seaside (2014) (AA100 DVD ROM), Milton Keynes, The Open University
‘The rise of the seaside: 1840–1914’ – The Seaside (2014) (AA100 DVD ROM), Milton Keynes, The Open University
‘The Postwar revival: 1945-present’– The Seaside (2014) (AA100 DVD ROM), Milton Keynes, The Open University
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