A warm and sunny talk on seaside resorts was just what Ferring History Group wanted on a perishing cold night for its annual Christmas social gathering.
Ian Gledhill, a well-known lecturer, was guest speaker at Ferring Village Hall last Friday and he entertained his audience of history enthusiasts with his talk, Oh, We Do Like to be Beside the Seaside.
Stephen Webbe said: “As befitting the Ferring venue, it had a pronounced Sussex focus. Ian, a professional actor and talented speaker with a repertoire of over 40 talks including the magic of panto, Art Deco and British musical theatre, is an expert on the growth of Brighton as a seaside resort.”
Ian explained how the turning of Brighthelmstone from an unremarkable fishing village into a popular resort with famous piers owed much to the Prince Regent.
But, as Ian noted, it was Dr Richard Russell who championed the medical properties of sea water and effectively founded Brighton as a bathing resort.
Ian also talked of seaside sagas from Hastings, Worthing, Littlehampton and Bognor. He admitted he had a soft spot for Worthing Pier.
Stephen added: “If the Ferring audience had wondered how the great British beach hut came to be, Ian had a novel explanation. Apparently, when bathing machines came to the end of their days, they were hauled to the top of the beach and with their wheels knocked off became the huts we know and love.”
Ian introduced other British piers, too, and mentioned the Blackpool Tower, as well as the bathing machine built for Spain’s King Alfonso XIII which ran into the sea on railway lines.
The annual Christmas beano also included a slap-up buffet, raffle and a Sussex quiz.