Since the 18th century, people have headed to the seaside to improve their health and to have fun with friends. To cater for millions of holidaymakers, specialised buildings and structures were built, ranging from a fantasy palace and Europe’s largest hotel to the oldest rollercoaster in Britain and the longest pier in the world.
Here our seaside expert Allan Brodie counts down seven listed structures that sum up the English seaside experience.
1. Saltdean Lido, Brighton and Hove
This Grade II* Art Deco lido of 1938, designed by R W H Jones, is built of reinforced concrete with sprayed cement finish painted white. It is one of just three seaside lidos still in use in England and was awarded Heritage Lottery Funding to revitalise the site.
2. Southend Pier
At 1.34 miles long, this Grade II pleasure pier was built in 1889 by James Brunlees and is the longest pier in the world. The Royal Eagle Paddle Steamer, shown above, began operating in 1933, taking tourists up and downstream from Tower Bridge to Margate. The East Anglian Film Archives hold fascinating films of crowds waiting for the steamer in the 1950s.
3. The Scenic Railway at Dreamland, Margate
Margate (as featured in our banner image of Victorian beachgoers) has been a popular seaside destination for over 200 years. An early form of rollercoaster, Dreamland’s American-style railway was built in 1920 by J H Iles and listed at Grade II* as the oldest surviving rollercoaster in Britain.
4. The Brighton Royal Pavilion
This Grade I Royal palace began life as a farmhouse and was transformed for the Prince of Wales by James Wyatt and John Nash in 1811-23. You can visit to explore spaces like the Banqueting Room and the Chinese Gallery.
5. The Hippodrome at Great Yarmouth
A Grade II* purpose-built circus (meaning a curved stadia design; the Hippodrome is one of just two left in England) of 1903 by R S Cockrill, with a striking art nouveau façade.
6. The Grand Hotel at Scarborough
Built in 1863-67 by the architect Cuthbert Brodrick, this immense Grade II* structure was reputedly the largest hotel in Europe when it opened. As Scarborough was a famous spa town, the hotel’s baths included an extra pair of taps, meaning that Victorian guests could bath in seawater as well as fresh.
7. Blackpool Tower
This icon is a Grade I entertainment complex built in 1891-4 by the architects Maxwell and Tuke, and the engineer R.J.G. Reade.
Do you agree with Allan‘s choices? Let us know!