This website contains profiles of Modernist buildings in Britain. Each profile contains a description and history of the building, photographs and a location information. The following list of sites are Modernist buildings are "Seaside". Click the building name or the "read more" link to view the building profile.
Marina, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, TN40 1DP
The Victorian era saw a rapid growth of seaside resorts around the coast of Britain, fuelled by a number of factors. In Britain, working conditions for workers were improving, driven by worker's unions and increased acceptance of workers rights. The 1871 Bank Holidays Act granted workers four days when banks and offices were closed, the first guaranteed holidays for workers across Britain; while in 1909 Trade Boards Act created four trade boards that could determine minimum wages in certain industries, giving more workers higher wages. The expansion of the railways pushed out from the major cities to reach smaller seaside towns.
Together, increasing household incomes and improved transport links to the seaside allowed tens of thousands of working-class Britons to take day trips to the seaside. Entrepreneurs seeking to take advantage of these waves of visitors developed a unique brand of British seaside entertainment from Punch and Judy shows to donkey rides; from candy-floss, to ice-cream and sticks of rock.
Increasing rivalry between neighbouring resorts saw seaside towns commission architects and planners to design and build the very best amenities: piers, lidos, hotels, pleasure gardens and pavilions, all designed to tempt the holiday-goers. By the end of the 1930s some 15 million Britons annually were taking a holiday at the seaside.
Bexhill-on-Sea was no exception. As its population expanded and its popularity as a seaside resort grew the mayor, the 9th Earl De La Warr, formulated an idea for a centre for arts and entertainment for the town. In 1933, an international competition... Read more »
King's Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 2PX
Standing on King's Road on Brighton seafront Embassy Court is a fine example of Modernist architecture. Designed by the architect Wells Coates (1895 - 1958), Embassy Court was built between 1934 and 1936. Coates was a designer and architect and was responsible for many fine Modernist buildings in Britain, including the Isokon building in London and the Telekinema for the 1951 Festival of Britain.
Even today Embassy Court provides a striking architectural contrast to the surrounding Regency and Victorian-style buildings on Brighton and Hove's seafront. When built in the mid-1930s its appearance must have been even more radical. However, the scale of the building is better judged in comparison to nearby Marine Court in St Leonard's on Sea, a building that completely dominates its surroundings.
The footprint of Embassy Court forms a mirror 'L'-shape on King's Road and Western Street in Brighton. Constructed of rendered, reinforced concrete the building comprises twelve storeys including its basement structure. Embassy Court contains 72 separate apartments, spread across its eleven principal storeys. The main block comprises the first eight storeys. The south-east corner of the building features a curved bay of windows. Each of the first eight storeys has glazed bays with recessed balconies, with adjacent balconies separated by screens. From the ninth floor upwards the remaining three storeys are set back successively providing sun terraces for the apartments, with a final twelfth storey featuring a canopied-roof and sun terrace.
The main entrance is on King's Road via a glazed entrance... Read more »
Marina, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, TN38 0DZ
Marine Court in St Leonards-on-Sea in East Sussex was constructed by South Coast (Hastings & St Leonards) Properties company. On 30 November 1936 the foundation stone was laid by Robert Holland-Martin, Chairman of the Southern Railway and the building was completed in 1938. Marine Court is fourteen storeys high, and from basement to roof, measures 170 ft/49 metres in height; east-west 416 ft/127 metres in length.
When viewed from the east or west Marine Court is very tall and slender, from the beach (south) or north, the full expanse of the building dwarfs all those on the seafront. Marine Court was an early pioneer of steel-frame construction, like the earlier De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea.
The building was designed by architects Kenneth Dalgleish and Roger K Pullen, with overt references to the Cunard White-Star Line Queen Mary, which had entered commercial transatlantic service in 1936. The east end of Marine Court is shaped to imitate the curved, stacked bridge front of the Queen Mary; the eastern restaurant served to imitate the fo'c'sle deck of the ship.
The south elevation is vertical, with balconies imitating the promenade deck aboard the Queen Mary. The upper stories of Marine Court are stepped-in from those beneath, like the superstructure of a ship, those beneath like the immense hull of a liner. The ground floor shop frontages were black, the external walls of Marine Court were painted white.
Marine Court was damaged at its eastern end by bombing during the Second World War and restoration of the building... Read more »
Marine Road West, Morecambe, Lancashire, LA4 4BU
Standing on Marine Road West in Morecambe the Midland Hotel is one of Britain's finest twentieth century Modernist buildings. The hotel was built by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway company, one of many hotels built by the company at station termini across the country. The hotel's position on the sea-front, opposite the railway station, was an advantage to the railway company's passengers at at time when car ownership was still an expensive luxury hobby.
The hotel was designed by English architect Oliver Hill (1887-1968) in the Streamlined Moderne style. Hill's earlier works were in the Arts and Crafts style but his later work in the Modernist style is arguably his finest output. The hotel features sculptures by the famous British designer and sculptor Eric Gill (1882-1940), who was also responsible for sculptures for the BBC's Broadcasting House in central London and 55 Broadway, the headquarters of London Underground.
Hill's design uses a curved form, following the alignment of the sea-front. The concave side of the hotel forms its main elevation, with the convex side facing out to sea. The eastern range of the hotel comprises a single storey structure with a rotunda facing seawards. Built over a reinforced concrete frame with brick walls, the hotel is rendered in 'Snowcrete', a type of Portland-limestone cement with a brilliant white pigment that has good durability against weathering, giving the hotel a brilliant white appearance.
The hotel is built across three storeys, with two wings either side of a central core, housing a magnificent... Read more »
Longridge Avenue, Saltdean , Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 8BU
Standing on Longridge Avenue in Saltdean, at its junction with Wicklands Avenue is the former (Grand) Ocean Hotel. The Ocean Hotel was built in 1938 and was designed by the architect Richard William Herbert Jones, who also designed Saltdean's Grade II*-listed Lido and residential properties Teynham House, Curzon House and Marine View along Chichester Road East and Marine Drive.
The hotel was built by the Ocean Hotels Ltd at a cost of £200,000. Designed in the Streamlined Moderne style, the hotel extends over three main storeys above a basement storey. The frontage of the hotel is concave in form, with a symmetrical design, featuring ranges and outer wings either side of a central core. The ground floor level of the hotel houses the main public rooms of the hotel, including the ballroom. The second and third storeys are given over to hotel accommodation.
The central core of the hotel comprises three bays, with the central bay occupied by a large, full height window to the second and third storeys illuminating the hotel's spiral staircase. At the ground floor there are double doors opening onto the hotel foyer, beneath a curved canopy roof. The central bay terminates with a raised parapet, and is topped with a central flagpole.
Beside the central core are ranges on either side. Each extends over five bays, with the central bay being narrower than the outer bays. The ground floor windows are set beneath a shallow canopy, while above the horizontal bands formed by the metal-framed windows are separated... Read more »
Saltdean Park Road, Saltdean, Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 8SP
Lying three miles east of Brighton, on the south coast of England, is the small town of Saltdean. Despite its size Saltdean possesses two of the finest Modernist buildings in Britain, the former Ocean Hotel and Saltdean Lido. A lido is a public outdoor swimming pool and it was during the 1930s the construction of lidos reached its peak in Britain, and arguably some of the finest lidos were built in this period. Lidos were built across the country, not only on the coast like at Saltdean, but in many industrial cities and urban areas. According to Janet Smith, author of "Liquid Assets" on the history of lidos and open air pools in Britain, 300 lidos and open air pools in Britain have closed, while less than 100 remain in operation.
Saltdean Lido was built in 1938 and was designed by the architect Richard William Herbert Jones, who also designed Saltdean's former Ocean Hotel and residential properties Teynham House, Curzon House and Marine View located on Chichester Road East and Marine Drive. Constructed of rendered, reinforced concrete Saltdean Lido comprises a central two storey block with a curved, main facade facing a large swimming pool. Each side of the building has a wing, giving the Lido a symmetrical appearance. The building's ground floor originally housed a foyer, changing rooms, boiler, fuel room and offices.
Each wing terminates in a two-storey pavilion, with an internal staicase providing access to terraces above, which occupy the upperside of the ground-floor canopy roof. The upper... Read more »
1-3 Stanwell Road, Penarth, CF64 2AD
Standing on Stanwell Road in Penarth, at its junction with Herbert Terrace, is the former Washington Cinema. The cinema was designed by the Welsh architect Harry Teather (1867-1956) for the Willmore Brothers. The brothers, from London, already owned a cinema in the town called the Windsor Kinema, which opened in 1914. The Washington cinema was named after a hotel that previously stood on the site and was marketed as a luxury cinema.
The design of the cinema is Modernist in style, with Art Deco style features and decoration. The cinema occupies a sloping corner site on Stanwell Road. The main block, incorporating the foyer, is a three storey block extending for three bays, with a smaller single bay wing to the left. The main block extends along Herbert Terrace for three bays, with the cinema's auditorium block extending for a further seven bays.
The main three bay block features a wider central bay and narrower outer bays. On the ground floor steps lead up to the cinema entrance. Either side of the entrance are small retail units while above is a projecting canopy. The first and second storeys have window bays with a decorative architrave, extending for both storeys, with a rectangular key stone. The windows are metal-framed Crittall-style windows, beneath which are panels with a decorative herringbone pattern. The second storey is surmounted by a pediment, with a ribbed moulding and a central acanthus leaf-style finial. The bays of the... Read more »