Our seaside towns: After the crowds have gone.

What happens to our seaside resorts when the holidays end and the summer hoards disperse? That is the subject that this documentary project hopes to record. This project, tilted Our Seaside Towns, was begun immediately prior to COVID in the spring of 2019, and it will eventually feature twelve of our seaside resorts. Some such as Blackpool, are big, well-known institutions in their own right; whilst others such as Swanage in Dorset are smaller but no less valued by those who love them. Despite their size they all have one thing in common: they all rely on attracting tourists for their economic wellbeing, and that can depend on a number of different factors. The overarching factor is the question of their ‘unique offer’ What is the thing that, in the face of stiff home and overseas competition – some of which they cannot control, like the weather, strength of the pound, the low cost of flying – that keeps us returning?

For many seaside towns the primary season ends when the schools return in the autumn. For many tourism businesses that is when shutters come down, and the seasonal labour force disperses until re-opening the following year. However, during the off-season life does go on, albeit at a slower place; and this is the season that this project aims to record. Some businesses will stay open relying on sporadic weekend trade and day visitors, or they rely on the retirees taking advantage of the cheap prices to fill their rooms and keep things ticking over. For many businesses the off-season is a vital time for seasonal maintenance, when the machinery and infrastructure gets renewed and serviced. Hotels, B&Bs and restaurants renovate, the static caravan parks replace redundant stock, and the Town Council gets the opportunity to roll out engineering projects that are impossible to do during the busy summer months. But who knows their future in the age of COVID? Perhaps they may undergo a renaissance, as many Britons choose to holiday at home rather than venture abroad.