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Friday, 26 July 2019

Swimwear and Lonely Beaches: Sepia Saturday

Three, rather portly,  men in old fashioned swimsuits pose on a deserted beach, c.1920s in this week's Sepia Saturday prompt photograph.    I have little in the way of swimwear photographs, so my focus is on the beaches.  Take a tour of Scotland and the North of England to enjoy some scenic views by the sea.
Toddling along with my father, c.1946 in a deserted beach at Blackpool, Lancashire - where I grew up. 

 A surprisingly empty Blackpool beach with the Central Pier and the famous Tower in the background.  The tower, built in 1894, was modelled on the Eiffel Tower in Paris  and rises to 520 feet - facts drummed into us at school.   My parents met at the famous Tower Ballroom.

A view from the Tower onto the sands, and two of the three piers.

Until the 19th century, Blackpool was just a small hamlet.  It rose to prominence with the building of the railway linking  it to the mill towns of industrial Lancashire and Yorkshire and soon became England's  most popular  holiday resort, with its miles of golden sands. The  Illuminations were first switched on in 1879 to extend  the season well into the autumn.

 Sometimes people have the misguide impression  of the north east of England as one of empty shipyards and mining communities.  But the Northumberland Coast is beautiful - as here in a peaceful scene from the beach by Bamburgh Castle (below) looking over to the Farne Islands. 

As a child I remember having a book on heroines in history with an illustration of Grace Darling  (1815-1842), the lighthouse keeper's daughter at Bamburgh  who in 1838 risked storms and icy seas to rescue sailors from the shipwrecked "Forfarshire.   She died of consumption just four years later and is buried in Bamburgh, with a museum dedicated to her life.

Marsden Rock is a 100 foot sea stack which lies 100 yards off the cliff face off South Shields.   Believed to be once  a smugglers' haunt,  it is now the home of seabird colonies.   In 1803 a flight of steps was constructed up the side of the rock. In 1903 several choirs climbed onto the rock to perform a choral service.   My husband spent his childhood here, with the beach a favourite playground. In a way this is an historic photograph, as in 1996 the arch collapsed, splitting the rock into two stacks. The smaller stack was decreed unsafe and demolished.   

Crossing the Border  into Scotland and  the East Lothian coast, south of Edinburgh to Canty Bay, looking over the Firth of Forth, with the Bass Rock in the background, with its lighthouse and seabird colonies.   

We enjoyed some  self-catering holiday here.   We had a clear view of the Bass Rock  from our kitchen window and the bay was a favourite walk every day, with our dog enjoying clambering over the rocks.    

The sweeping bay of North Berwick, near Canty Bay, East Lothian, June 2018

The ruined castle overlooking the beach  at the historic town of St. Andrew's, famous for its university and golf courses, and once the ecclesiastical centre for Scotland. 

Crossing to the Solway Firth on Scotland's south west coast to Sandyhills Beach  near Rockcliffe, near Kirkbean,   Kirkcudbrightshire (pronounced Ker-cu-bri-shire)  This was our destination for a short break on the trail of my husband's ancestors,  who I had traced back quite easily  to Samuel Donaldson of South Leith, near Edinburgh.  It was only much later when writing the narrative that it struck me I had  no evidence whatsoever that the Samuel Donaldson born in 1728 in nearby Kirkbean was the same Samuel Donaldson who married  in South Leith, in 1759.  So I abandoned this line of research - but we enjoyed discovering a new part of Scotland!

I could not complete this post without featuring Iona and Mull in the  beautiful Western Isles of Scotland   - one of my most favourite  spots in the world and there is something very special about Iona and the peace and tranquillity you can experience there.    It is  a tiny island off the southwest coast of the island of   Mull, only 1.5 miles wide by 3 miles long, with a population of around 120 permanent residents.

It holds a special place in the history  of Scotland, and a significant one  for all Christians. For it was here in  AD 563, Columba and his followers arrived from Ireland to spread the gospel in Scotland.  The restored medieval abbey continues to hold daily services  and 48 kings of Scotland are reputed to be buried in the grounds

We had the bach to ourselves this day in July 2016.

 "Deep peace of the running waves"
(A line from John Rutter's Gaelic Blessing)


And finally two more swimwear images - my mother in a black swimsuit very similar to those  worn by the men in the prompt photograph.

 A happy picture of my little brother  looking very natty in his knitted bathing suit and sunhat. 


Sepia Saturday gives an opportunity for genealogy bloggers  

to share their family history and memories through photographs


Click HERE to see how other Sepia Saturday bloggers are enjoying the seaside.


  1. Oh how excellent a post about beaches and beachwear! I haven't had time to do a post this week (again.) Maybe next week.

  2. Really enjoyed all your photos Sue. We love Scotland. Having grown up in Florida and California, here in the U.S., finding swimwear and beach photos will be pretty easy for me. Actually it all began on Lake Huron in Michigan, when I was a little girl.

  3. I wish we'd been able to see the ruined castle at St. Andrews when we were in Scotland before. And once I started see all the beach scenes you were sharing, I knew sooner or later I'd come to some of Iona and Mull. Lovely pix! :) Of course I'll be on a splendid beach for the next week beating the 100+ temperatures at home. Yea Tahoe!

  4. Amazing how you have turned a swimsuit prompt into such a fascinating grand tour! I particularly like the first two photos: incredible how similar Blackpool beach looks despite the passing years and how tranquil the sea remains despite the various human encroachments.

  5. What the British coastline lacks in white sand beaches it more than makes up for in the beauty of stones and rocks. Someday I hope I can visit all of the ones I've missed.

  6. Thank you all for your kind comments . I enjoyed looking back at family holiday memories.


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