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At Bridlington, 1915

Mike Wilson, Local Author and Historian

From The Yorkshire Weekly Post, Saturday, 11th September, 1915

FORTUNATELY the charm of Bridlington is not due entirely to its crowds. There is accommodation for immense numbers, and numbers of people are always to be found on the sands, in the tiers of promenades, on the Prince's Parade, on the new Spa, in the streets, shopping, flirting, boating, reading, sewing, knitting, reprimanding the children, listening to the pierrots, writing postcards, giving the eye that gladdeneth, puffing the expensive holiday variety cigar, sipping cups of coffee and other sips and sups, listening to the band, tapping toes to keep time, humming airs, cracking jokes, giving back chat of the most frivolous pertness, admiring the neat ankle, delighting in the grace of some unknown divinity, comparing apartments and landladies, criticising or praising their culinary capabilities, commenting on style, and how some people manage to follow the fashion at all costs, sneering at the ultra stylist or at those lacking it or apeing it, or openly buying fashion of any kind of a later date than Victorian, bathing, cycling, walking, char-a-bancing, marketing, tennising, golfing, fishing.

As to today, as ever before in early September, these things are happening at Bridlington in crowds, but the crowds are not the immense crowds of previous seasons. You may write to half-a-dozen boarding-houses, and find that any one of them can spare you a room, or rooms, for your family is you wish it. There is no lack of accommodation, though it is generally admitted that the lovers off "Brid" have proved more faithful than the lovers of some of the other East Coast holiday resorts. Where large preparations have been made for the accommodation of a crowd, the absence of a crowd always give a place a more or less deserted feeling than a ball room with only three couples dancing with a strangely anti-festive look. So, where big promenades on which, at this time of the year one is in the habit of seeing thousands, have a strangely deserted appearance when only hundreds are to be seen.

But it is chiefly in the main thoroughfares, where the tipper is ever on the ebb and flow, where the thinly peopled appearance is most marked. Take away from any popular seaside place its trippers, and you will see at once that it is he, rather than his superior longer-date-brother-of-the-apartment, who makes the place seem so busy and lively.

The tripper keeps on the move all the time. From the minute he is disembarked until he is put back into the train, he is on the treadmill - dragging his weary feet and the wearier feet of the family up and down the streets. First, when he arrives, he has to have a look round at the shops and people. After a time he finds his way to the sands, where he either lunches - by courtesy of the tide - or starts a fresh pilgrimage through the streets for a suitable eating house.

So continually does the gentle tripper keep on the move that he finds he has entirely "done" the place at least two hours before his train is due to depart, and not wishing to be too far away from the station at the last moment, he generally spends these two hours perambulating up and down the main streets. This gives to those streets that extraordinary sense of crowdedness that makes one believe the town is simply packed.
There is no sign of the gentle tripper this season. But though the tripper helps the prosperity of Bridlington, he is certainly not its main support. The fortnightly person has always been the mainstay of the place, and the fortnightly person has not turned up in his usual numbers.

However often have we not met the holiday-maker who objected to the crowds at Bridlington.
"The place is so trippery nowadays, really there is no moving about."

This then, must be the ideal season for these croakers. They must have neen having the time of their lives for they could safely to go any town on the East Coast in the full knowledge that it would not be overcrowded.
But what of the poor folks who have to make sufficient in the season to tide them over the winter? What a different meaning the sea seems to have for the holiday-maker this year.Of old he regarded it as a means of enjoying himself, either by splashing in it or gliding on its erratic surface. At no other place on the East Coast has the visitor been on such intimate terms with the ocean as at Bridlington. So familiar was he, as to go out in a rowing boat on his own - lighter rowing-boats than at any other place.

True, this friendly water did at times assume an attitude that looked threatening and menacing, even causing the amateur boatman to burst into frenzied beads of perspiration when he discovered that the easy manner in which we went out to sea is not be be repeated on the return journey, and that the harbour mouth is apparently in accessible. The harder he pulls for the shore, the further he seems to be carried away from it.

Despite the fact that the Germans believe that the ocean is occupied entirely by their mines and submarines, one was invited in the usual manner of peace times to go fishing, or sailing. As you stepped down to the pier, the invitation was issued in the usual informal way and the bay was studded with sails, as if to give the doubters confidence. True, the "Frenchman" was not running, but then one must remember that every Frenchman has other work to do than that of cruising about for pleasure.

With some diffidence I opened a conversation with a boatman. There was the feeling that observations might be misconstrued. One had heard of someone talking to a fisherman, and of the fisherman reporting to the police, and of the police following up and finding maps and the implements of the spy in the man's rooms.

Carefully avoiding asking the measurements of the harbour, or whether a German Dreadnought could come near the shore, or any of those questions which seem to be inevitably the preliminary to arrest, I contented myself with generalities until I imagined I had gained the confidence of the boatman. Though he had apparently not followed the writings of military experts with sufficient closeness to know exactly where the German Army was, either on the East or the West, or what it was up to, the boatman seemed very clear on the point that neither submarines nor mines had frightened fishermen off the sea. It had no more effect on them than a railway accident had upon prospective passengers.

Half-a-dozen - seven, I think, to be correct - grey boats came to the harbour mouth as I talked to the fisherman of his son who was in the Falkland Islands fight, and I asked what manner of ships these could be.

"Them's minesweepers," he said, "there's always some about. They keeps the track clear for ships out there," and he pointed to a distant line of traffic.

The "Princess Parade" shows no signs of having suffered from the effects of the war. The flower beds are as bloomingly gay as ever. The floral clock seems as floral as before, and the hall has its baskets as beautiful as at any other time. Both the bands here and on the New Spa are conducted as usual by Signor Scoma and Mr Julian Kandt respectively. Hitherto I have been unfortunate enough to be at Bridlington during Cowes week, and Mr Kandt was always at that place. This year I was more fortunate. There is no doubt about the personality of this conductor. He has the quiet style that tells. Sometimes he becomes so quiet as to cease conducting altogether for a time - this to show that the band can free-wheel downhill, so to speak, once it has got going properly. You should just hear "Rags" done by Mr Kandt. They don't merely flutter in the breeze, as under some conductors; they simply dance and wave and tear themselves to tatters. It is enough to make the most staid old party jump up and begin to stump around. Our strictly British upbringing makes us content ourselves with a mere shuffling of the feet under the chair.

Last Friday morning and afternoon the band of the Hull Orphan Boys played on the Parade. Very smart boys they were, too, playing with immense enthusiasm and volume. In fact so much so, that delicate ears found that distance lent enchantment to the sound. Particularly delighted were the children in the audience with the handbell ringing of the little sailor boys. The funds of the Society were well augmented by the industry and talent of these small musicians, whose efforts were well appreciated.

There are sufficient people at Bridlington to see full attendance at all the concerts, and with the sun shining brilliantly upon the white cliffs and gleaming out against the blue of sea and sky, with everything at normal, and with plums three halfpence a pound less than at Morecambe, surely there is nothing to keep the visitors away. As the fisherman says: "It's them awful gales as gets about what spoils things for us."