All Roads Lead to Bognor

Once the British coast had been the ultimate summer destination for most working-class families. In the 1940s five million holidaymakers a year crowded Britains seaside resorts.

In the 1960s seaside towns fell into decline, as cheap package holidays abroad and rising employment opened up new destinations further afield. This coincided with the opening of the last of Billy Butlin's holiday camps in Bognor Regis in 1960.

Originally a fishing village, Bognor was established as a seaside resort in 1787. The 'Brighton Line', connecting London with the south coast of England brought the first mass visitors with the building of the station in 1864.

In contrast with the seasonal influx of visitors, Bognor today has a population of just 64,000. Like many coastal communities, the percentage of elderly is well above the UK average. The project looks at these people who are here to stay. For many the journey to Bognor has been a long one.

Undertaken as part of City to Sea; A research initiative set up to generate collaborative projects that explore how tourism, migration, urban ecology and biodiversity interlink with arts and cultural practice. The aim is to transform social perceptions, environmental and geographical links between cities, coastal towns and surrounding regions worldwide.

The Bognor chapter was carried out with Magnum's Peter Marlow, and sponsored by Butlin's Holiday Resort.



‘I’m a doer, but as you get older the doing days are over.’ With no previous connection to Bognor, Margaret was drawn to life near the sea. Her daughter lives in Canada and visits once a year.

’Billy Butlin was a lovely man, we had some fun. Those were the good days.’ Rita was in a dance band that toured Butlins camps across the UK. She returned to Bognor when she got older.

Pam is something of a local, having been to school in Bognor. Her daughter settled in nearby Southdowns and she returned to Bognor to be near family.

Peter is a retired civil engineer who worked on the Airport in Saudia Arabia, as well as spending time in South Africa. He moved back to the UK and to Bognor in his retirement.

Sheila moved to Bognor in the 1980s as she loves living on the sea. At 94 and just out of hospital, she is no longer able to go out often and enjoy it.

Lucy lived in Bromley for much of her life. She moved to Bognor in old age to be near her daughter, who lives on the same street.

Authur said he had never been to Butlins, well, just to take a look! He moved from London to Bognor to live by the sea.

Using Format