BEACH HUTS... AND BUNGALOWS
Since a visit to Herne Bay, Kent in 1998 I’ve had a passion for beach huts! I love their colourful presence on the border between land and sea, and it turns out I’m not alone. People around the country, as well as the media, share my enthusiasm. As Britain’s beach hut expert I’ve appeared on TV programmes including the BBC series Coast, The One Show, Flog It, Countryfile and BBC Breakfast as well as on radio programmes such as Simon Mayo Drivetime, Woman’s Hour and PM.
There are more than 20,000 much-loved huts around the UK coast and I’ve visited most of them. As part of my research into their history I made a two-month hut tour starting in the North East, passing through fourteen counties and ending on the Bristol Channel. An account of this trip appears in my book Sheds on the Seashore: A Tour through Beach Hut History alongside the enthralling story of their invention and evolution, a story that stretches back to the wheeled bathing machines of the 18th century.
‘A fascination for beach huts has taken Kathryn Ferry on an odyssey around the British coast…recording the huts she finds and the people she meets. The result is part historical account, part travelogue, consistently entertaining and peppered with anecdotes. An excellent account of these most idiosyncratic of British buildings.’ Coast magazine
‘This year has been a particularly fruitful one for those who like books on shedlike atmospheres and the latest addition is the marvellous Sheds on the Seashore by Kathryn Ferry… It's a great read, even if you don't have a beach hut yourself, with plenty of wonderful photos, and a definite must-have for your bookshelf since it's the definitive history and unlikely to be bettered.’ http://www.shedworking.co.uk/2009/08/shedworkers-bookshelf-sheds-on-seashore.html
In 2006 I was a member of the judging panel for Bathing Beauties®, an international architecture competition to design 21st century beach huts for the Lincolnshire coast. Several of the winning designs have now been built and I was thrilled to be signing books outside the latest addition ‘A Hut for Gazing and Canoodling’ as part of the Bathing Beauties Festival in September 2009 (left).
Watch me at the Festival on You Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bt1GZysgrAw
I have also been a judge for competitions to find Britain’s Best Beach Hut 2011 and 2012, Shed of the Year 2008 and, in 2009, was on the panel of an architectural competition to design beach huts for disabled users at Boscombe in Dorset.
In 2012 I acted as historical consultant to the ‘Dip Your Toe’ project, part of Brighton Fringe Festival. Six bathing machines were built and stationed around the city as performance venues for artists and local community groups. Part of my role was to talk to the two primary schools taking part and I loved answering all their questions about bathing machines – a challenging but rewarding experience. I also gave a number of lectures at the Old Courtroom during the festival itself and you can hear more about my talk on bathing machines via the RadioReverb podcast with Melita Dennett.
For more information on the wonderful world of beach huts and to find one to hire or buy visit www.beach-huts.com Signed copies of my books are also available through the beach-huts.com shop.
For people with less money a popular option was to find a scenic spot, usually by the sea or river side, where redundant railway carriages could be used to create a cosy leisure retreat. The bungalow was so alluring as an escape from the city that the name, which came from India, was applied to all sorts of other things, including beach huts, hotels and tea gardens.
British bungalow history dates back to the 1850s and you can read all about it in my new book published by Shire
'Bungalows... sheds fascinating new light on what is a much undervalued category of building, arguably the vernacular for the modern era....Ferry draws on a wide range of sources, from bungalow plan-forms, materials and architects, advertising, popular literature and postcards, among others, to give the fullest idea of how bungalows were built, inhabited and, above all, how the bungalow has permeated the consciousness of British society from mentions in travel journals and paintings of India in the late eighteenth century to the present day.' Vernacular Architecture, 2014