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Byline: | Heather Greenaway

They were the places to hide from the rain with a soggy fish supper or a melted ice cream cone.

Some of them were pretty, others more practical, but the country's beach shelters were part of a day at the seaside.

Photographer Will Scott, inspired by the shelter near his childhood home in North Berwick, has now pictured more than 50 shelters, some which have fallen into disrepair.

The dad of two said: "I grew up by the sea and used to holiday on the British coast, so taking refuge in shelters from the battering wind and rain is still a vivid memory. It was this nostalgia that drove the project.

"I started with places on the south coast but then branched further afield and covered the length and breadth of the British Isles, including Scotland and Wales. I finished off in North Berwick, which I felt was apt.

"My aim was not to catalogue all of them, more to pick out a good selection which capture the different styles and eras.

"Many are quite rundown and ramshackle but they still have charm and character, and a beauty in them, despite being dilapidated and unloved." The building of seaside shelters coincided with the boom of beach holidays in the Victorian-era as Brits took advantage of the developing railway networks to flock to the seaside.

Will, whose images appear in his book Seaside Shelters, said: "Most of the art deco-style shelters like the well-known one in Blackpool, sprung up in the 30s.

"Sadly, the advent of World War II was a death knell to many seaside resorts and by the 50s, they were dying out. In many cases, there is no record of when the shelters were built or who built them but they are all unique and they've been an important and much-loved part of Britain's coastal landscape.

"There are a few architectural masterpieces like the one in Broadstairs, Kent, which has an ornate clock, tower and wind vane.

"The shelter in Frinton-on-Sea in Essex is beautifully Art Deco, with its red tile roof and bell-shaped silhouette.

"Paignton in Devon has a brightly coloured shelter with an oriental feel, whereas the one in Deal, Kent, is very plain but is nonetheless striking.

"The Scottish shelters are much more utilitarian and not as decorative due to the fact designers realised just how much of a battering they were going to take from the weather."

Will, 32, took most of his pictures in the autumn and winter when the shelters were empty.

But when he found them occupied, the people using them tended to be interested in his project and happy to be pictured.

He said: "The hardest shot to get was in Girvan, Ayrshire.

"I drove three hours to get the picture and when I arrived, there was a whole squad of camper vans parked around it and no one about to move them. I had to just take the picture regardless but I think, in a way, it adds to it." The photographer hopes his images will inspire and encourage councils across the UK to repair and restore their seaside shelters to their former glory.

Will said: "It would be such a shame if they disappeared forever. At least I have documented a few for future generations."

Will, who now lives in Dorking, Surrey, got his publishing deal after appearing on BBC Two show Coast.

He said: "I got an email from a publishers asking if I fancied doing a book and an exhibition and I thought, 'Why not?' as it would mean taking the shelters to a wider audience."

Architecture and design critic Edwin Heathcote, who has written a piece in Will's book, said: "There is nothing, quite possibly, more British than the seaside shelter - the sense it embodies of a struggle against the elements, the loneliness of a small structure outlined against the vast horizon of the sea on a rainy day and the optimism of a day out at the seaside despite the weather."

An exhibition of Will's work finishes its run today at the HENI Gallery London.

He said: "I've had positive feedback from people saying they hadn't given the huts a second thought in years but my pictures have brought back wonderful memories of happy family trips to the seaside." Seaside Shelters, published by HENI, PS14.99.


memories Will Scott

HARDY Scottish shelters

ORNATE Shelters in England often show a high level of detail and date back to Victorian holiday heyday
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 19, 2018
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