Glimpse history through old images of Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, England.
Masonic Ceremony (1910-1919)
Freemasons in their full regalia lead a procession of clergy and choirboys. Then the foundation stone of St James’s Church is laid with Masonic rights.
Masonic Ceremony (1910-1919): British Pathé (YouTube)
Clacton Beach in the 1920s
Although this 1920s footage is silent and black and white, it’s clear enough to see some lovely details.
It’s a cold day. Everyone’s wearing good thick coats and hats, smart suits, and many wrapping up further with scarves. Yet the beach is very busy with both adults and children sitting on the sand, playing ball games, digging, or just strolling along.
The paddling boats at the end are very popular too.
Clacton Beach (1920-1929): British Pathé (YouTube)
Fancy Dress Boat Battle 1922
There’s hardly an inch to move in the crowds watching this curious event.
Brightening Our Regattas (1922): British Pathé (YouTube)
Clacton in 1926
The silent footage is in black and white. As revellers act out ‘The Pirates of the Southern Seas’ in bootpolish and grass skirts in the water, crowds of people watch. After a minute or so, the film goes off to Lowestoft, to find “the prettiest ankles”.
Happy Holiday-Time By The Sea (1926): British Pathé (YouTube)
Come to Essex 1931
Sir Percy John Pybus, 1st Baronet, CBE (25 January 1880 – 23 October 1935) was Mr P J Bybus, the MP for Clacton, in 1931.
He led the publicity campaign to encourage holidaymakers from the Continent to visit Essex holiday resorts.
Of course this involves fancy dress, though for some reason the float is a car pulled by teenage girls in swimsuits.
The umbrellas show it was raining during the speeches.
Come To Britain (1931): British Pathé (YouTube)
This 1935 footage is rather curious, because everything seems quite muted. The people on the floats look cold, and the spectators seem to stand quietly. But it’s amusing to see how the early floats looked.
Clacton Carnival News In A Nutshell (1935): British Pathé (YouTube)
Litter Signs 1937
A film showing three unusual anti-litter signs in the Clacton area in 1937.
Three well made signs warning against litter are shown:
‘Who throws his rubbish on the sand and letter shed on every hand may his back axle let him down a good ten miles from any town.’
‘Who breaks off boughs and lets them lie beside the trees to fade and die may earwigs creep into his ear and caterpillars spoil his beer.’
‘Who picnics by the sad sea waves and all the front with litter paves may indigestion rack his chest and ants invade his pants and vest.’
Warning Sign Posts Aka Warning Signposts (1937): British Pathé (YouTube)
Baby Show 1937
“Ideal fathers discovered at Clacton” announces the title card.
It’s described as a “monster Baby Show” because of the large number of women turning out with their babies for the competition.
But the audience split their sides with laughter as several dads show their baby bathing skills. Not with real babies, mind you, because that would clearly be ridiculous!
Baby show at Clacton (1937): British Pathé (YouTube)
Nazi bomber crashes at Clacton (1940)
Just two years after the silliness of the baby show, Britain was at war.
And in 1940, Clacton-on-Sea became the first place in the country to suffer extensive damage at the hands of an enemy plane.
One of the Lufftwaffe’s Heinkel planes was damaged by British air defences off the Essex coast during its attempt to plant mines in the sea.
The pilot flew to the nearest land looking for a place to land.
But after half an hour it crashed into a housing estate, with the explosives and fires causing serious damage to two residential streets.
Two residents died, as did four of the aircraft crew. In addition, 160 people were injured, some of them seriously.
Nazi Plane Crashes In Essex (1940) – British Pathé on YouTube
Nazi bomber crashes at Clacton (1940): British Pathé (YouTube)
Funny Cat Video 1952
Tim the cat lived in a Clacton boarding house.
It’s not clear why the newsreel thought he was news, but just goes to show funny cat videos aren’t a new thing.
Cat And Bottle (1952): British Pathé (YouTube)
Eye Contest 1958
If you think this starts off badly, watch what happens halfway through.
Beautiful Eyes (1958): British Pathé (YouTube)
Whitsun Clashes 1964
1964 saw the hottest Whitsun weekend for several years. Crowds turned out in force to enjoy the seaside.
But the threat of violence between mods & rockers meant the police were there too.
“It really has come to something when people can’t take a short holiday without the threat of long haired youngsters with knives indulging in an orgy of hooliganism!”
Whitsun Playtime Aka Mods & Rockers Clash At Margate (1964): British Pathé (YouTube)
Clacton Carnival 1967
At the Butlin’s holiday camp, everyone’s getting ready for the annual carnival. Stepping onto the floats are beauty queens in swimwear, along with adults and children wearing a wide array of fancy dress costumes. Lovely clear images of hundreds of people, including many spectators.
Clacton Carnival (1967): British Pathé (YouTube)
Clacton-on-Sea in 1976
First broadcast on 13th January 1977, this footage includes aerial shots of the seaside town. There are dozens of close ups of children, and we get to see inside the 70s rooms.
Essex – Clacton on Sea – 1976: ThamesTv (YouTube)
More about Essex
Thanks to Nick Page on Unsplash for the helter skelter image used in the title card above