Seaside resorts history

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Seaside resorts history
Blackpool became the first seaside resort for the working class. (Central Press/Valueline/Getty Images)

The seaside resort is an invention of the British during the Victorian period of history before being exported around the world under the far reaching British Empire. Originally a trip taken by health conscious upper class people, the trip to a seaside resort was quickly adopted by all classes in England and was accepted by most cultures across the world.

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A seaside resort is a coastal community that has based at least part of its commercial industry on tourism and the influx of revenue brought in by visitors to the region, according to the National Archives. The seaside resort developed on the English and Welsh coastline during the 18th century. The elite of the UK decided bathing in the sea was a cure for most illnesses and improved general wellbeing. Initially developed on the Yorkshire coastline of England, the seaside resort quickly became known for being a place of fun and relaxed morals frequented by the British Royal family and the aristocracy.


Starting with the rise of the British businessman in the 18th Century Industrial Revolution the use of the seaside resort for holidays and short breaks became commonplace throughout British society in the 19th century. Resorts like Blackpool aimed specifically at working and middle class families. The growth of the railways and the summer holidays given to workers in Lancashire's cotton mills enabled large numbers to visit seaside resorts each summer.


The unpredictable weather of the UK and the wish for cheap entertainment spurred the Victorian to develop attractions like the music hall. In Blackpool, the tower and winter gardens were built to provide entertainment for visitors as competition grew among resorts to provide the best all round entertainment experience. Several resorts developed long piers extending into the sea with theatres that offered entertainment from the stars of the period.

Foreign travel

The British Empire took the idea of the seaside resort across Europe and eventually around the world. The major countries in Europe eventually developed their coastlines to include resorts initially based on the British seaside model; the idea then spread throughout the world to include coastal resorts in North and South America. Seaside resorts catering for local visitors struggled in the late 20th century and into the 21st century as cheap air travel popularised foreign travel.

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