Sunday, 29 May 2011


There are many places on the British coast, particularly in the south and east, which have fallen prey to coastal erosion over the years. In Middleton-On-Sea the erosion was so bad in the 1700s that the medieval church was looking at an uncertain future, and in spite of the best efforts of the rector to put defences in place, the erosion got worse, to the point where human remains from the graveyard started appearing along the shore. The church finally succumbed to the encroaching sea in the 1800s. The battle to defend the locality from the sea continued as the town developed into the 1900s, until finally in the 1990s the local council built eight rock islands offshore to lessen the force of the sea.

One feature of the British seaside which still persists in one form or another today, but which had its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s is the “holiday camp” of which Butlins and Pontins are probably the most famous names, and which was parodied in the popular British comedy series Hi-Di-Hi. One of the earliest examples of these was in Middleton-On-Sea where a seaplane factory which closed after the First World War was turned into a holiday camp by Sir Walter Blount in 1922, and was named the “New City”. The hangars of the former seaplane factory were put to good use, one being turned into a dance floor and another into indoor tennis courts. There were also countless outdoor activities laid on, with the aim of providing a self-contained seaside holiday base. By 1934, the New City had become a hotel and sports club.

Map of the area.

© 2008 Basher Eyre, via Wikimedia Commons

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