Leisure and Commerce: Seafront Rivals in England’s First Seaside Resorts

Allan Brodie

Abstract


During the first half of the 18th century, the earliest seaside resorts were created in England in small coastal towns that had previously made their living as commercial and fishing ports. Today many seaside resorts are still co-located with ports, ranging from small, quaint fishing and leisure harbours to major container and ferry ports. In most towns, industrial places of work are in areas near the periphery or where the edge of the town was located when the factories or mills were being created in the 18th and 19th centuries. However, the harbour inevitably lies at the heart and on the front of a settlement that might become a seaside resort, and often this aspect of their story has continued alongside the new leisure industry that has come to dominate their identity. Therefore, this could lead to conflicts over time between polite society and the commercial realm, and respectable visitors and themen and women servicing the harbour and its shipping. Over 300 years, the detailed geographical and economic relationship between leisure and commerce on seafronts has evolved, and new arrangements are being reached as visitor numbers have increased and as commercial facilities have expanded. This paper will consider a number of 18thcentury English and Welsh ports that pioneered sea bathing and seaside holidays. Today, some are seaside resorts, some are purely ports, and a small group havemanaged to negotiate a more or less uneasy relationship between these two apparently conflicting functions.


Keywords: leisure, commerce, seaside resorts


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References


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