The last of the deckchairs – and the end of the seaside as we know it


Yet on a sunny day Avison does a quick trade. She has loyal customers, some of them so reliable that she tucks away their deckchairs at their favorite place for their arrival. If a client is elderly, she will carry her recliner in position, overlooking the sparkling North Sea. Last summer, she says, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson took a quick selfie – and left without paying.

“Look at this beautiful desk,” she said, gesturing to the beach. “I love it – all of it. Even a bad day is always a good day.

Chairs provide the canvas upon which all beach life unfolds. Young couples hold hands; the retirees sit in pleasant silence. Families bicker in circles while others sit alone, do crossword puzzles, or smoke a cigarette. They are a place to lie down and observe. In 1955, playwright John Osborne wrote his acclaimed play Look Back in Anger on a deckchair in Morecambe Bay.

When the day is over, Avison piles up the deckchairs and buckles them with a long chain. About 15 years ago, she and her husband Michael returned to Scarborough to care for her elderly parents. Avison, who was born and raised in Scarborough, grew up playing on the beach and loves the outdoors, so sunbeds made sense. It’s hard work, she said, surveying the beach on which she now has the only estate, but, “I’m proud to be the last one here.”

The first deckchairs, a more portable version of the “steam chairs” developed for use on luxury liners in the 1890s, appeared on the sands of Scarborough in the early Edwardian era. In the 1920s, Coco Chanel popularized the idea of ​​tanning as a symbol of leisure. A new generation of beachgoers proudly lounged in their deckchairs, dressed in increasingly revealing swimsuits.

About Lillian Coomer

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