‘Seaside shelters attract me because they’re relics of the former life of that town,’ says photographer Will Scott.
The Scottish documentary and architectural photographer – who grew up in the coastal town of North Berwick – has fond memories of summer holidays spent on the Cornish coast, which fuelled his nostalgic interest in seaside architecture, much of which is in a state of flux.
Beach shelters were a common feature of the British coast in the Victorian and early 20th century, as summer holidays were popularised in the UK. Fast-forward to the 1920s and 30s, and coastal towns were locked in fierce competition with each other to attract tourists. As a result, their seafront developments became more and more architecturally elaborate.
Along the south coast, Modernism was adopted for a swathe of seaside development from Worthing to Hastings. But as overseas holidays became the new vogue and coastal resorts lost their shine, so too did their beach shelters. Many fell into disrepair or were demolished completely – a saga that continues today.
‘Local councils are struggling for cash and so they’re removing [the old structures] in quite a lot of places. The first location I shot at in Bournemouth, the shelters had their tops chopped off – they were basically benches. That was a bit disappointing, but it made me realise this is a good time to capture them before they go.’
Scott has mapped out their locations across the UK as the project expanded. Among newer structures he discovered is Redcar’s seafront development. ‘Redcar is pretty run down: the steel-works have been shut down and it’s a quiet town with a lot of employment problems. It’s interesting that towns like this are now spending money on their seafronts in a bid to revitalise the area – in a way we have come full circle.’
He adds: ‘I’m looking to show the contrast between old and new as well as documenting the rise, fall and perhaps rise again of Britain’s coastal towns.’
You can see Seaside Shelters as it evolves on his instagram.
Update, 19 July 2018: Seaside Shelters has now been turned into a book by HENI Publishing (£14.99) and 18 of the works are being exhibited at HENI Gallery, 6-10 Lexington Street, London W1F 0LB, from 20 July to 19 August, 2018.