Skegness by the Sea 1884


An interesting article Skegness, from which we quote at some length, appeared in recent issue the Leeds Mercury:

Skegness is not the model of perfection which the mural literature of our railway stations would have us believe.

There are those who live neighbouring villages, and may therefore be allowed to be impartial judges, who say that Skegness is a mushroom town, and it will soon be relegated to its former obscurity. But the of Skegness may take heart from the proverb that nothing succeeds like success. The town has grown daily and substantially, and the fiction upon paper is like become a fact. Not many years ago a few fishers cottages, clustering, as though for protection, round an in:i, was Skegness. Hither upon lumbering coaches, across in.;: lies, came county families desiring breath of sea, a-i now and then, one anxious to recruit purse and system after the extravagances of a season in town.

Hither, too, came Tennyson to spend long holidays with relations house overlooking A still, salt pool locked in with bars of sand. The house has been razed; the fosse that hemmed it round is now a dry hedge; the view is cut short by a row line brick houses, but the curious may still seethe the bridge over which the poet walked, and may even fcp.’rtl. with some who were his playmates in those young days. Shooting geese and rabbits among the marshes, fishing snipe and perch from the dykes, discussing crops on the Roman Bank, or politics the sands—these were on. e the chief occupations of visitors to Skegness.

Things have changed, and this Lincolnshire watering place changed with them. The old inn remains, but so altered its former owner would hardly recognise it. Its guests are not the same. The ” trippers,” whom some aft. to scorn, while they make money out of them, Come, and Skegness has received them with open arms. L : t rally, well as figuratively, this the truth. and townswomen waylay you at the railway station and descant the praises of their several “houses, here, as elsewhere, every cottage is a house,” every li use ” villa,” and every villa , but the vocabulary fails. Round the old inn and its modern appenda-‘s still linger a few dumpy cottages, whose grey age made all the greyer by the nasturtiums and the roses that i>he=h against the stone walls. This is High street one those jagged, heterogeneous roads peculiar to towns that have been old, alluring to lovers of antiquity, .,.l holding out promises not always fulfilled. Many vi . ‘uis make direct for High-street. Whether it is because other principal road shows itself from the station platform, because of the painted direction, that ” This is the nearest way to the sea,” we cannot pretend to decide. All we know is that it has given rise to a curious feud between the inhabitants of High-street and its more modern neighbour, Lundey-road. more than one occasion, it said, cordon of the High-street faction has been drawn across the road from the railway station to drive visitors, like a flock of sheep, in the desired direction. The rival faction has been known adopt tli3 tactics with equal success. ‘Tis but the mingling of the new blood with the old—a process that has pone ever since the extension of the railway from in 1873, brought the village in direct contact with large midland and northern towns. Skegness was very different place twenty years ago. sure the heart of it is still old, but everything else what changes ! The geese and the rabbits have vanished, and now, instead nests and warrens, are rows of n?al brick hoiiies, comfortable hotels, theatres, gardens, and streets laid out la boulevard, as the natives say. Tu. y must look better after their trees if they desire the Streets regarded as boulevards. Pass through the centre of the town Lumley-road, and you will see what been done to create this* Brighton of the east coast. either hand are shops well stocked with goods to ca l the public eye. No risk of being exiled from those minor details comfort which make life worth living by paving a visit to Skegness during the season. Branching oft in all directions are neatly laid streets, well paved, clean, and well lighted. On the whole, Skegness admirably built. The Earl of Scarborough, who owns a la:„ share the parish, has done much. He it was and his agent (Mr. Tippet) who formed the scheme of development” and laid out the broad pastures between the Roman Bank and tha sea. Their plan is bold, as seen on paper most of oar Great Northern Railway stations. Though not completed fact, it has not been left upon paper, and the time may not be far distant when we shall see tli? pastures hidden by broad streets, with squares and crescents for market, and the new Church. But those who are contemplating a visit to Skegness this summer will not satisfied with hypothetical descriptions. Nor, indeed, is there any occasion to support the claims of Skegness prophecies, any rate to those who are need a quiet, healthy holiday. To begin with the sands, which are undoubtedly the main attraction : they are broad, firm, soft to the feet, and free from the shingle and pebbles that make Southport and Morecambe beaches disagreeable—a paradise where children may build ea-‘J’-s for fit sea to destroy, without worrying their death lc>t they should drowned. The gives good bathing and something besides. If you have til” luck fine weather, you may see, saw, the m:’Mg’i ‘ sod bank”—a huge sheet glass, bounded by a great black wall, across which flit birds and .-.hips. Th? fishermen will tell you that this is a sign of south-east winds. Then, 011 dark night, the sea is covered with a mystic phosphorescence, which is very beautiful. Beyond tills, Nature has not been very bountiful to Skegness. Tie-re are no woods, and one is iike tumble over cliff, tor there none. Dunes, or low sand bank-,, are for cliffs, the two distant wolds for woods. However, man ha-, done what could make for Nature’s deficiencies. Stretched a mile along the foreshore is a s:i’.’ s. a-wali, fenced by stout iron railing, and serving for a promenade. At one end is the pier—one of the not the country. It is of iron, 20ft. wide, and 1,843 ft. long. The entrance-lodge is a pretty piece Norman architecture, unhappily in pitch pine instead of oak. There are arbours for shelter on both sides, and 011 the broad head is a pavilion and refreshment-room. A baud ays regularly, and a steamer is constantly at the landing-stage to trilie passengers for a run out to sea or to some neighbouring village. From the asphalt roof of the pavilion may had a panoramic view of sea and land. Westward the dark uplands, behind which the sun is just hotting a lurid red—this for background. The golden duties and silver pools the foreground. For middle distance fi skis of corn and grass and mustard, gold and green and orange, out which rise the stately Churches Burgh-le-Marsh, [ngoldmclls, Addlethorpe, and Win thorpe. The sea lies east, with its southern line of 1111- —the shore Norfolk from Wells to Lynn Bar. At night you may see the Lynn Well Lightship flash thrice pi tiie minute, and may clearly discern the beacon Hunstanton. And now for the town’.-, attractions. Pleasure-grounds covering eight acres have been laid out. They are close to tii3 promenade and the sea. In the centre is an ornamental lake with fountains, whose only need is fresh water. Shrubberies aud flower beds divide the space with ru tic arbours and lawns, that even in this lazy w1 sinpt to exertion at tennis. At one end the grounds stands pavilion, thronged with dancers, , well as a concert-room. There is some talk of a new pavilion to ‘look the sea. Near the railway station is a nineacre cricket ground, level, well turfed, drained, and bordered with plane tree., and sycamore. A public library aud reading-ro’.>m, and a small exhibition marine monstrosities and curiosities complete the list of entertainments to be found within Skegness. But we must not depart without a word about the old Church and the new, the places interest in the immediate neighbourhood. Most people revel an old Church, even though, like St. Clem uit’s, be outwardly mean and insignificant. The o!d Parish Ciiurcli of Skegness stands in the fields, and is reach -d by a path from the Roman bank. The walls are stone curiously patched with brick. The rou r timber roof is covered with lead. The tower and are without buttresses. Inside there nothing worth inspection except, it may be, the octagonal font, which is said to older than the Church, and has stood the weight of years somewhat better. As a substitute for this crumbling and not very picturesque inefliciency, new Church has been contrived, of which the fouudation-stone was laid by Lady Scarbrough in 1879. It is a substantial building, and needs but a,little money to be made in every way suited to its puimose. As for the places of interest in the neighbourhood, there are Winthorpe, with its very ancient Church of St. Marv, in Perpendicular style; Addlethorpe, with its Church of St. Nicholas; with its signs of a continued htruggle against the encroachments of the sea; Burgh Ie- Marsh, with its Roman remains ; Croft, with its record of religious hate; inland town, once Roman station and a seaport of some importance, furnishing two ships and forty-nine men the navy when Edward 111. invaded Brittany ; and Gibraltar Point, beloved sportsmen. Skegness truly place for lotus-eaters, who can bring to their pleasures a contented mind, a few good novels, and light-hearted companion.

Source: Grantham Journal – Saturday 23 August 1884


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