England’s Seaside Heritage from the Air

Britain has a rich maritime history, a key part of which involves seaside resorts. This book showcases a collection of black-and-white photographs taken by Aerofilms Ltd between 1920 and 1953, illustrating scenes across England and the Isle of Wight. Each is accompanied by Allan Brodie’s lively descriptions explaining the historical significance of each snapshot.

Brodie has a briskly jovial turn of phrase, and his introduction explains how seaside resorts grew out of an 18th-century fashion for curative bathing, with their appeal and accessibility greatly amplified first by the coming of the railways and later by the passing of the 1938 Holidays With Pay Act. The book explores the development of seaside infrastructure and amenities, piers and winter gardens; the birth of holiday camps; commercial ports; and more poignant subjects such as the impact of the Second World War, and the devastation and deaths wrought by a severe storm surge in 1953.

As well as bustling scenes of Blackpool, Butlin’s, and Brighton, photographs capture wrecks and windmills, Martello towers and castles, and religious sites like Lindisfarne Priory. This book is an absorbing way to be beside the seaside.

England’s Seaside Heritage from the Air, Allan Brodie, Liverpool University Press, £50, ISBN 978-1800859647.
Review by CH.