A look inside the Great British Seaside

The Great British Seaside, the National Maritime Museum's major new photography exhibition, brings you 102 photos from leading British photographers. Take a sneak peak at the exhibition with some of our favourite photos.  

The Great British Seaside: Photography From The 1960s To The Present​ runs from March 23 to September 30 at the National Maritime Museum. Buy tickets

Martin Parr

One of Britain’s most popular photographers, Martin Parr (b. 1952) was inspired to pick up a camera at a young age by his grandfather, a keen amateur photographer.

Image of children with ice creams
New Brighton, Merseyside, 'Last Resort', 1983-85 © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

In the summer of 1983 Parr began work on The Last Resort (1986), a three-year project capturing leisure in the working-class seaside resort of New Brighton, the beginning of a career capturing the idiosyncrasies of Britain’s seaside

Image of Punch and Judy in Weymouth, 1995
Weymouth, 1995 © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos

‘The seaside has to be one of the most fascinating places for people-watching. It is a place where we relax and lose our inhibitions, and that’s when true personalities come on display.’

– Martin Parr

Margate, Kent, 1986 © Martin Parr/Magnum Photos
Margate, Kent, 1986 © Martin Parr/Magnum Photos
Walton-on-the-Naze-Essex, 2017 © Martin Parr/Magnum Photos
Walton-on-the-Naze-Essex, 2017 © Martin Parr/Magnum Photos

'For me the seaside is like a laboratory. Every time I have a new idea or want to try something different I tend to first experiment with it at the beach.

– Martin Parr

Clacton on Sea Essex 2017 © Martin Parr/Magnum Photos
Clacton on Sea Essex 2017 © Martin Parr/Magnum Photos

Simon Roberts

Brighton-based photographer Simon Roberts studied Human Geography at the University of Sheffield which has influenced much of his work. 

Camel Estuary, Padstow ,Cornwall, 27 September 2007 © Simon Roberts, courtesy of Flowers Gallery
Camel Estuary, Padstow ,Cornwall, 27 September 2007 © Simon Roberts, courtesy of Flowers Gallery

'I love Simon’s approach – he took the basic Andreas Gursky idea and applied it very cunningly to British leisure pursuits.' - Martin Parr

Image of Blackpool promenade, Lancashire, 24 July 2008
Blackpool promenade, Lancashire, 24 July 2008 © Simon Roberts / Flowers Gallery, London

Simon's work is characterised by large-scale images that explore the collective relationship between people and place and the reflection of social, political and cultural change in the landscape.

Blackpool Beach, Lancashire, 25 July 2008 © Simon Roberts, courtesy of Flowers Gallery
Blackpool Beach, Lancashire, 25 July 2008 © Simon Roberts, courtesy of Flowers Gallery

‘I see the British seaside as a series of landscapes through which we can trace part of our national history.’ 

– Simon Roberts

Tony Ray-Jones

‘My aim is to communicate something of the spirit and the mentality of the English, their habits and their way of life, the ironies that exist in the way they do things …’

– Tony Ray-Jones

Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire, 1967 © Tony Ray-Jones/National Science and Media Museum, Bradford
Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire, 1967 © Tony Ray-Jones / National Science and Media Museum, Bradford

Tony Ray-Jones (1941–72) worked as a freelance photographer after graduation from Yale University, Ray-Jones returned to Britain in 1966 and decided on a project to visually document the English at leisure.

Great Yarmouth, Norfolk,1968 © Tony Ray-Jones / National Science and Media Museum, Bradford
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk,1968 © Tony Ray-Jones / National Science and Media Museum, Bradford

For two years he travelled around the country in a campervan capturing, in his words, ‘the sadness and the humour in a gentle madness that prevails in a people.’

Palace Pier, Brighton, East Sussex, 1968 © Tony Ray-Jones / National Science and Media Museum, Bradford
Palace Pier, Brighton, East Sussex, 1968 © Tony Ray-Jones / National Science and Media Museum, Bradford

David Hurn

David Hurn (b. 1934) is a self-taught photographer who began his career in 1955 working as an assistant at the Reflex photo agency in London. 

Barry Island Wales 1981 © David Hurn/Magnum Photos
Barry Island, Wales, 1981 © David Hurn/Magnum Photos

His work is diverse and includes raw photo-essays, fashion photography and iconic production stills from films such as From Russia with Love (1963) and Barbarella (1968) as well as the seaside photography featured in the exhibition

Herne Bay, England, 1963 © David Hurn/Magnum Photos
Herne Bay, England, 1963 © David Hurn/Magnum Photos

‘The seaside is a place for uninhibited fun. It is cheap and very democratic, full of laughter, tenderness, ridiculousness but basically a way of having a good time.’

– David Hurn

 

Image of Porth Oer (Whistling Sands), 2004
Porth Oer (Whistling Sands), 2004 © David Hurne / Magnum Photos

David Hurn’s great love has always been the photography of ordinary people and everyday lives.

The Great British Seaside: Photography From The 1960s To The Present​ runs from March 23 to September 30 at National Maritime Museum. Buy tickets