Inside the Seaside Ghost Town on a Slow and Steady Decline
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Inside the Seaside Ghost Town on a Slow and Steady Decline

14 August 2016, 5:00am

You've probably never heard of Seaton Carew. Its beaches, on the edge of a small town in Hartlepool, were an 18th century hot spot for wealthy Quakers who adopted the seaside town as a holiday resort. "Seaton? It's just an old holiday home. Forget that place," Adam, a local at a pub in Hartlepool, told me.

As someone who hasn't spent most of their time reading about old seaside resort towns, I'd most recently read about Hartlepool in the context of its vociferous vote in favour of leaving the EU, in June's referendum. As was typed out with a certain smugness by journalists in the wake of the referendum result, a net inflow of less than 200 migrants landed in Seaton Carew's borough from 2014 to 2015, but an immigration-led campaign led to a Leave vote at 69 percent.

Walking through Seaton in July, it's easy to see that a) basically everyone is white, and b) it's a near-ghost town. The stretches of sand beaches are populated largely by elderly dog walkers, joggers and families. Then I reached the place where funfairs come to die.

"It used to be busy before they moved the funfair," Keith, a local ice-cream van owner, with extraordinarily strong glasses and blue eyes told me. With not much else to go on, I went to a local hotel and bar where I met Brian, an 82-year-old Labour voter with a fresh pair of knees courtesy of a "very nice Thai doctor."

"Before they brought in the new sewage system it was busy. But they had to move the funfair and after that like, things started to slow down." I later learned from another a chap at the bar that previously the sewage was being dumped incrementally across the beach, but it was affecting the local marine life.

Having previously worked in manufacturing industry throughout the 60s and 80s he explained it was busy at the ports and the manifold types of manufacturing. "We were making ships, making the engines for ships, machines to crush diamonds, and even crisps." During that time he had a family, bought his own home and continues to work, but throughout the 70 until the 90s when Thatcher was in "every 6 months, or thereabout, there were layoffs." Eventually the manufacturing industry dried up, and "they said to chase work down South."

@SamTahmassebi