As was so often the case, it was the railways which were responsible for the rise of Clacton-On-Sea as a popular resort. Up until the 1860s, all that was here was the sleepy village of Great Clacton with its medieval church and old inns, lying a mile offshore. Then along came railway promoter Peter Schuyler Bruff, who changed the area forever as, with the backing of the Woolwich Steam Packet Company, he set about developing a resort. At first people arrived by steamer, landing at the pier, which opened in 1871, then in 1882 the Great Eastern Railway began bringing holidaymakers to the town, and the resort really took off, to the point where by the time of Schuyler Bruff’s death in 1900 it was one of the most popular resorts in the country. Today, Clacton remains a popular resort, with the pier now housing undercover amusements and a fun fair, a safe, sandy beach, and a full programme of events including an Air Show at the end of August.
One unfortunate feature of British sea-side life during the 1960s was the phenomenon of “mods and rockers”, two youth subcultures whose members regularly came to blows in the seaside resorts of the south, especially on bank holidays, sparking mayhem among the law-abiding holidaymakers, and battles with the police. Unfortunately, Clacton was not immune to this phenomenon. At Easter in 1964, hordes of leather-jacketed teenagers, described in the press as “rampaging teen-aged wild ones”, came to blows with “truncheon-swinging police” while their girlfriends stood by, screaming and egging them on (reports of the clash reached as far as the US, the above quotes coming courtesy of the Charleston News and Courier).
For a list of events in Clacton-On-Sea and the surrounding area, see here.
Map of the area.