For someone who is used to working in 17th century materials it comes as a shock when you discover one of the problems regarding writings on the contemporary world is that things that seemed settled change. That doesn’t happen often in the 17th century. In “Lure” I spent a lot of time tracing the history of the rise of British seaside resorts. From the 18th century on it was a tale of continued growth in numbers and in patrons as they set a standard for the world. There was no doubt that they set standards and were enormously popular until the 1970s when Britons discovered the Jet plane. They made it possible to ship hordes of Brits to the beaches and sunshine of Spain and Portugal. They never looked back as Britain had nothing to compete with these new resorts. In comparison the British resorts did not have reliable sunshine and having been built in the 19th and early 20th centuries they were rather faded and tatty. Who needed an old Victorian pile when you could get a flashy, modern hotel with all the modern conveniences. Some of the resorts could only sell themselves as heritage sites given their old buildings. Many had slowly become towns that were favored by retirees who appreciated the old resorts and made them into retirement centers. That was the story I told in the book.
Now things have changed–British resorts are back. Thanks to global warming England has more sunshine and hot weather than ever before. It has created a viable wine industry and a future for old resorts. But the real spur to Britons staying at home has been the Covid virus. It seems that every summer the virus flourishes in Spain and Portugal and the government will not allow Britons to risk travel. For those who feel bereft if they do not get a summer holiday on the beach many familiar names now beckon–Briton, Margate, Ramsgate and even Blackpool. Needless to say they are being welcomed back with open arms.
So something that I thought had come to an end–the popularity of British resorts has proven not to be true. Although I do feel that soon as Covid abates and Spanish and Portuguese tourist bureaus start advertising lovely beaches and abundant sunshine Britons all will feel the pull and head south.