The Beach Huts
The Beach Chalets (or Beach Huts) on Marine Embankment in Cleethorpes have been an iconic part of the area since the 1950s. But beach huts have been part of the heritage of beach holidays in the area for much longer. And what does the future hold for the Cleethorpes Beach Huts?
The story of Cleethorpes Beach Chalets is one that is bittersweet. For well over half a century the Beach Chalets have helped shape the landscape of Marine Embankment, and are, to many, an iconic feature of our coastline embodying strong holiday memories.
The Beach Chalets (or “Beach Huts”) have changed over the years, as has the area around them, so we’ve been researching the history of the Chalets, uncovering memories and experiences, and through recent work with local partners and funders starting to breathe life back into one particular Chalet – “Beach Hut #9” – which is now the focal point for the Bygone Beachcombers project in Cleethorpes.
Read on to explore the history of the Beach Chalets, memories of the Chalets, and the Chalets now and in the future…
History of the Chalets
The history of seaside holidays has long been associated with Beach Huts of some form even if to start with these probably simply provided privacy for bathers.
The beach huts were built in the late 1950s and early 60s by Peter Ingoldby and Harry Laver under contract to Cleethorpes Borough Council. At the height of their popularity, the beach chalet, or ‘Day Chalets’ as they were advertised, were available from Cleethorpes Information Bureau for weekly hire during peak season, and daily hire during low season. Each beach hut came equipped with a gas ring, kettle, basin table, deck chairs and running water. Interestingly, the Council equipped each of the beach huts with curtains to allow “privacy whilst changing for bathing”.
See below a collection of archived documents showing planning applications to build collections of beach huts at the end of the 1950’s:
According to an advertisement in Cleethorpes Corporation, the Chalets were available for weekly hire during the months of July and August at a cost of £3 per week. The cost of hiring one of the beach huts outside of these two months decreased to £2.50 per week. A £1 deposit was required in the case of all weekly bookings, regardless of the time of year. For many years the beach chalets were a staple attraction, providing holidaymakers with a place where they could enjoy their day at the beach, come rain or shine.
Memories of the Beach Chalets
Local historian Alan Dowling recalls his memories of is family using the Beach Chalets back in 1959:
We were living in a residential caravan at Upper Halliford near Sunbury-on-Thames. We had two children, Michael and Ann, aged respectively 4 and 2. I was on a low wage and, accordingly, our holidays were usually spent with Dorothy’s mother who lived in Newbridge Terrace by the railway line in Cartergate in central Grimsby.
We spent most of the holidays at nearby Cleethorpes. We did not have a car but it was only a short walk from Cartergate to either the Old Market Place or the Grimsby Railway Station. So sometimes we took a bus from the Old Market Place to the Open Air Bathing Pool in Cleethorpes or a train from Grimsby to Cleethorpes Railway Station.
In 1959, we contacted the Cleethorpes Corporation and rented one of the Day Chalets in October of that year – possibly for a week. Dorothy subsequently paid the hiring
charge at the Victorian mansion on Alexandra Road, known as The Knoll. It was used as Council offices in those days.
We decided to hire a chalet because we could store our holiday impedimenta and children’s toys there, to avoid bringing them daily from Grimsby. We wheeled them there on a pushchair.
The chalets pre-dated the brick-built chalets. They were wooden and included a gas ring, kettle, basin, table, four deckchairs and a water supply. There was a public toilet building further along the seafront on the way to Humberston.
The chalet faced the sea wall and the beach – no sea marsh then – and it was possible to walk along the beach as far as the Humberston Fitties – probably coming up on to the sea wall to use the bridge over the Buc Beck outfall. On the beach by the Fitties were donkeys and swing boats – and a nearby café and public toilets.
One advantage to the chalets area was the superb beach which was located far away from the North Promenade’s crowds and costly children’s attractions.
Alan Dowling, July 2017
Photographs of the Beach Chalets submitted to the project:
The Beach Huts became unloved
In the more recent past, the Beach Huts slowly decayed away…
The Beach Huts today
Today, things are very different, and there is still a lot of love from local people towards the beach chalets, although many have fallen into disrepair. Over the years, North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC) who own the chalets, and lease them to the public at a cost of around £5 per year, have been heavily criticised for failing to force tenants to keep them in good condition as per the terms of their leases. This, combined with a lack of investment in the area, has resulted in a significant decrease in the number of people using the beach huts.
In October 2014 NELC put each of the 51 beach huts up for sale. News of the council’s decision to sell off the beach huts was met with mixed reactions from members of the public and tenants alike. Many tenants expressed concern about how the sale of the beach huts would affect their tenancy and their frustration at the council’s decision to sell off such an iconic part of Cleethorpes history to private investors. More than anything, however, tenants hoped that whoever purchased the beach huts did so with the intention of restoring them to their former glory.
Beach Hut #9
One of the Beach Chalets – number 9 – has already been transformed. We believe Beach Hut #9 was one of the huts built in 1958, and in 2016 through a lot of hard work from local partners and with some funding from the Tribune Trust, the brick built chalet was refurbished for community use.
Using Beach Hut #9
The beach hut officially opened on Friday 16th September 2016, and is available for hire free of charge for disadvantaged people, schools, community groups and organisations. Furthermore, the beach hut can also be used by schools or community groups, either as a base for events or to learn about the environment and local heritage. The Bygone Beachcombers team are continuing in their efforts to accumulate historical photographs, souvenirs and memorabilia which will be displayed within the beach hut. If anyone has any has any Cleethorpes memorabilia that they would like to lend to the project.
Much more information about Beach Hut #9 and how to book it is on a separate page just here.
Thank you to all the contributors of photographs and memories about the Cleethorpes Beach Chalets.