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Hastings from the beach

Photographer: Francis Frith (1822 - 98)

'Hastings from the beach — low water, c.1864'

The growth of inexpensive rail travel from the mid-19th century placed the seaside towns of the south coast within easy reach of the capital. 

This led to their development as tourist resorts for an increasingly affluent middle class. As Frith noted in his photographic guide book to Hastings and its surroundings: ‘We came down from London Bridge in two hours and a half…cheap enough. You face the sea in your drawing-room at St Leonards, and occupy your five bed-rooms at six guineas a week…Whilst Jones has fine open quarters looking landwise for ten shillings a week’.

Frith was a pioneer in the field of travel photography, beginning his career with three trips to Egypt and the Holy Land between 1856 and 1860. In 1859 he founded his own publishing firm in Reigate, Surrey, which issued albums and postcards of views throughout Britain. 

The firm became the largest of its kind in the 19th century, continuing to be run as a family business until 1971.

Albumen print

From Francis Frith, The Gossiping Photographer at Hastings (Reigate and London, 1864)

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