The History & Heritage of Skegness

If you’re looking for a fun and friendly seaside holiday destination, then look no further than Skegness! The award-winning blue flag beach spans almost a mile in length, with many activities dotted along the coast line. With donkey rides, crazy golf and music festivals, there is plenty to keep you occupied. But it’s not always been such an action-packed place. Beneath the bright lights and sandcastles lies a town rich in heritage and culture…

If we wind back the clock all the way to the 10th century, Romans, Saxons and Danes occupied the Skegness coast line or to give it its name as it appears in records – Sceggenesse. As we all know, the Battle of Hastings in 1066 saw the beginning of Norman rule and over the years the raised promontory that traded in timber, changed hands many times. In fact the great storm of 1526 washed away the port completely, devastating the economy. Fast forward to 1872 with the arrival of the railway and the town began to thrive. What was once a small fishing village soon turned into an accessible and popular watering place.

In 1872, just four hotels graced Skegness, a stark contract to the hundreds on offer today. It was Earl of Scarbrough’s vision which we see in Skegness today. The Earl of Scarbrough saw the potential in the small town and set about transforming the land he owned by building wide tree-lined streets, promenades and gardens. Skegness’ popularity escalated and in 1936 saw the birth of Butlin’s.

Butlin’s is a thriving resort packed full of entertainment. Entertainment is a huge part of Butlin’s; in fact we have Billy Butlin to thank for Dodgems! He introduced Dodgems to the country way back in 1920. Alongside the classic Dodgems, kids (and adults!) can enjoy a whole host of activities including Splash Waterworld – one of Butlin’s newest attractions, traditional fairgrounds, live shows and the Skyline Pavilion where you will find arts, crafts and character shows.

Earl of Scarbrough also set about building Skegness pier. Since its grand opening by the then Duke of Edinburgh in 1881, the pier has had a tumultuous life.  What started as a modest build saw a lavish extension in 1898, which brought refreshment rooms and entertainment – spanning military bands, ventriloquists and musical ensembles. However on March 21st 1919 disaster struck when the voyager, Europa, sailed through the pier, causing a 150ft-wide gap of destruction. Rectification and rebuild didn’t come for another 20 years, however it was short-lived, as World War II caused considerable damage to the pier. Nevertheless, Great British spirit ensured nothing could put to bed Skegness’ greatest attraction, and in 1948 the pier was re-opened with a brand new glass canopy, housed shops, amusements and even a cinema. Today the thriving pier is an on-going development, filled with brand new bars and diners, Laserquest, AMF Bowling Lanes and of course classic entertainment such as Hook-A-Duck and Helter Skelter. You’ll find the pier located in the centre of the sea front.

A little different to the military bands and musical ensembles on display in the 1900s, Skegness plays host to many bands and festivals. SO Festival takes place each year and is one of the biggest free outdoor arts festivals in the UK, and TWSTD, held over two back-to-back weekends in the month of November is the UK’s largest indoor winter festival. Check out Visit Skegness for a full list of events and attraction dates.

Of course we can’t talk about Skegness without paying homage to the Jolly Fisherman. The Jolly Fisherman, originally created as a poster by artist John Hassall in 1908, is now a bronze statue dancing proud on a pile of rocks, in Skegness town. The recognisable statue has become a mascot for the town is believed to have influenced the success of the seaside resort.

Away from the beaches, pier and entertainment you’ll find The Village Church Farm, Lincolnshire’s only open air museum. A collection of buildings including a grade II listed Georgian Farmhouse is decorated to a Victorian era. Doffing your cap to the Victorians, you can try your hand at making mini horse shoes in an on-site blacksmiths. The venue is also home to the Bob the Hornsby steam engine!

So from Sceggenesse, to Skeggy – as it’s lovingly known today – Skegness is the point of call for thousands of visitors. Whether you’re coming for the fish and chips, an afternoons stroll along the beach, or a long weekend with the kids, ‘Skegness is SO bracing’ and well worth the trip.


Based in the busy location of Skegness, East Coast Caravans have highly specialised members of staff that pride themselves daily on …

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