11 April 2018

Change and Decay

Back in February, the Southlands Hotel in Sheringham was ablaze. Unspectacular news in so many ways - the demise of a disused hotel in an English seaside resort is hardly going to make the headlines of the News at Ten. But this was the hotel where DrLanky and I had our wedding reception (17 years ago this August), so I have a sentimental attachment to the place.

Today, we visited Sheringham with the children. We're there quite often as we have lots of family there and now live quite close by. We parked in South Street, and this was the view of Southlands. Quite different from the countless scenes of wedding day happiness and family celebrations which have graced its doors over many years.

Whilst I concede a degree of sentimentalism over the demolition of Southlands, I can't help
wondering what it signifies for Sheringham, and for seaside towns like it. When we were married, there was a choice in the town of two hotels which could cater for a reception like ours. Now there are none. I find myself asking if the market for these hotels has disappeared, and that must surely be the case. The bread and butter business for places like these was in residential customers coming on their holidays. The wedding receptions were handy additional business, but it was the holidaymakers who paid the bills. I suppose that business has simply gone now, and that in 2001 we experienced the tail-end of this part of the seaside business landscape.

Of course, this isn't news. The rise in mobility, the growth in affordable air travel and the globalisation of culture have all had a massive impact on our economy; though I don't suppose many communities have felt these changes as keenly as the traditional seaside resorts.

But it's not all doom and gloom. Sheringham remains a desirable place to live and a great place to visit. The hotels and large guest houses may have gone, but the town still seems to be thriving. So, yes there is change, and I suppose there is a sort of decay. But surely it's all part of a cycle of life and death, which seems to exist in business just as it does in the rest of life. 

1 comment:

  1. Such poignant photos. I think it’s sadder when something is mostly gone but still visible than when it’s completely destroyed or replaced. When you can still see fragments of what it used to be.