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A writer and an illustrator visit the seaside

On our visits, we’ve encountered people living without mains gas or electricity in southern Essex, post-lockdown beach parties in Bournemouth, and conspiracy theories in Torbay, write Tom Sykes and Louis Netter

Friday 26 November 2021 00:01
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Unfurling along the sandy border between town and beach, the English seaside is a place of contradictions – rich and poor, old and new, fun and desperate. Although many of us have a sugary vision of coastal England as tacky entertainment and a bygone refuge from working life, the reality is that many seaside towns are on the front line of contemporary social, economic and political challenges.

Indeed, despite the recent boost to British seaside resorts provided by pandemic-related travel restrictions, since the 1970s, there has been a steady decline in the number of people heading to England’s beaches for their holidays – instead, holidaymakers have favoured cheap deals overseas.

Austerity policies have also hit a lot of coastal towns hard. And many seaside resorts have a low life expectancy and high concentrations of chronic disease.

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