Essex: Clacton teenagers share a century of seaside memories in youth project

  • Published
Raving on the pier, 1997; women on the beach 1920sImage source, Tristan O'Neill/Museum of Culture/Angela Barnes
Image caption,
Compare and contrast: Raving on the pier in 1997 and young women enjoying the beach in the 1920s

Stories of first love, pirate radio stations and Saturday jobs have been shared in an exhibition about childhood and teenage life in a seaside town.

Grown Up in Clacton is a pilot project by the Museum of Youth Culture which asked people to share their memories and photographs to add to its archive.

"Being young is seen as a good time people want to share," said its archive project manager.

Nearly 400 images dating from 1910 to the present day were submitted.

Image source, Malcolm Batty
Image caption,
Was this how young people had fun in the early 20th Century? A keep fit class at Riggs Retreat in 1910
Image source, Ed Constantine
Image caption,
This family holiday at Butlins, just before it closed in the early 1980s, looks a little more relaxed

Archive project manager Lisa der Weduwe said teenagers in Clacton were able to access new music, their venues hosted well-known 1960s bands and international DJs played the pier.

Contributor Martin Croxford, 72, said: "Music was part of growing up in Clacton in the 1960s and we were swept along in that - especially with the best of American music."

The summers brought holidaymakers, new fashions and styles - as well as seasonal jobs.

Mr Croxford said: "They were fantastic days - the pavements were so packed you couldn't walk on them."

Image caption,
Martin Croxford in front of a photo of him aged 14 or 15 in the early 1960s, leaning against a juke box
Image source, Malcolm Batty
Image caption,
Clacton attracted many thousands of holidaymakers in the interwar period and for decades after

Sisters Sue and Margaret Fairclough also had happy memories of being teenagers in the 1960s with "freedom, great music and good clothes".

A youth photography workshop was held to help tell the story of Clacton from the perspective of today's teenagers.

Ms der Weduwe said: "People loved talking about Clacton in their youth and wanted to celebrate the town - even today's teenagers love it.

"It's still a great place to grow up."

Image source, Roger Fennell
Image caption,
Roger Fennell working at his Saturday job in Clacton in 1959
Image source, Richard Bennett
Image caption,
The leather-clad 59 Club on a ride-out to the seaside in 1969

During the four-month project oral histories were collected from 32 people.

The Museum of Youth Culture is currently a virtual collection but hopes to have a physical museum in the long term.

It received an Arts Council grant of £10,000 to deliver the project, and wants to take it to towns and cities around the UK.

Image source, Museum of Youth Culture
Image caption,
Lucy and Ellie took part in the project's youth photography workshop - and say Clacton remains a great town to grow up in

The exhibition runs at 3 Central Parade, Rosemary Road, Clacton until 5 March, open 12:00-16:00 GMT Tuesday-Sunday.

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