Head to the beach
PUBLISHED: 10:48 28 April 2015 | UPDATED: 10:48 28 April 2015
Frinton has been considered one of the county’s most special seaside destinations for decades. Petra Hornsby takes a look at what makes Frinton such a good bet for both visitor and resident
Situated in the parish of Frinton and Walton and under the immediate authority of Tendring District Council, this jewel in the coastal crown of Essex is famous for many things: its family friendly and award-winning beach, the several hundred colourful beach huts that line the promenade, its golf and tennis clubs, the famous Summer Theatre and the fact that pubs were not welcomed into the town until 2000, and then just the one!
Like other seaside resorts, Frinton on Sea didn’t come into its own until the late Victorian era when improvements in transport allowed people to travel more easily to take a holiday or a day trip to the sea.
Frinton had just been made up of some farms, a few houses and a church before developer Peter Bruff came along in 1886. But it was Robert Powell Cooper, who in 1893 purchased land in Frinton intending to further Bruff’s development, who had a vision of a resort fit for the aristocracy. Powell Cooper insisted on a certain quality of housing, an extensive golf course as well as forbidding the building of boarding houses. By the beginning of the 20th century the town was a favourite among society’s elite — offering a touch of the Mediterranean, complete with a lido and palm trees. The town’s Connaught Avenue, named after the Duke of Connaught, was once referred to as the Bond Street of East Anglia.
A Greensward, separating the esplanade from the sea, was built to stabilise the cliffs as part of the Sea Defence Act (1903) and is a major and recognisable feature of this seaside town, complete with benches and shelters to sit and enjoy gazing out to sea.
Frinton does have a reputation for being rather conservative, resisting the usual gimmicks of the seaside. Cooper Powell rejected the idea of a pier and what might come with it. This seemed to set the tone for the future and today there are still no beachside ice cream vendors, arcades and apart from the one pub, The Lock and Barrell, bars are reserved for the private clubs and hotels of the town.
There are some great places to get refreshments, such as cafes, restaurants and wine bars, but those wanting fast food and night clubs will be disappointed. For the residents and also visitors, this remains part of the charm of the town and something they are keen to preserve.
Jeanette Philips, honorary secretary of the Frinton Residents Association and resident for the last ten years, sees the positives: ‘With more restaurants, cafes and wine bars opening — we already have at least 12 and two more are about to open soon — this might be the future for Frinton. It could be a place which people visit in order to enjoy a good meal as well as the other advantages of the sea, a beautiful unspoilt sandy beach and a seafront not cluttered up with commercial enterprises.’
It is fair to say that the demographic of Frinton is on the more mature side, but there appears to be plenty of events taking place to suit all ages within the community and beyond.
Jeanette explains: ‘There are many events taking place in Frinton throughout the year. Some are hosted by the golf, tennis and cricket clubs, and we also have a bowls club. We have a six-week season of Frinton Summer Theatre — with professional actors performing a different play each week — plus a four-day literary festival taking place in October each year, Frinton Cinema-on-Sea shows the latest films on a regular basis and there will be a Music Festival this year as well as an open-air performance of a Shakespeare comedy on the Greensward.
‘Frinton & Walton Heritage Trust has a museum and gardens are open to the public, while other organisations, including the Frinton & Walton Postcard Club, the Frinton & District Horticultural Society and Frinton Community Association, provide social activities in Soken House at the Triangle Shopping Centre. There are also lots of activities organised for young people by a local youth football club, Frinton & Kirby Scout Group and Frinton Guides and Brownies, as well as Tendring Technology College Frinton Campus and three primary schools.’
With such a busy calendar of events, numerous clubs and associations and a good range of shops, not to mention the attraction of living by the sea, Frinton sounds like the ideal location. So what does Jeanette enjoy about living there?
‘It’s attractive, safe and clean. Everything is within walking distance, so you don’t need a car. There are sea views, fresh air and plenty to keep you occupied. There is a neighbourly atmosphere and the majority of people are polite and friendly.’
The beach is certainly a huge attraction for the visitor. This sandy and stone beach, separated by wooden groynes, stretches for a mile — north to Walton on the Naze and south to the golf club. High tide is great for a dip or, if preferred, people can retreat to the green, clean space of the Greensward for a touch of kite flying or a sand-free picnic. When the tide retreats the building of sand castles, shell collecting, beach tennis and cricket can resume once more.
The beach is looked after well by Tendring District Council which organises beach patrols during the summer along with the daily clearing away of rubbish, and The Beach Hut Owners’ Association work to ensure good maintenance of the huts — many of which are available for rental during the holiday period. You might need to know that dogs are restricted on certain beaches, currently from the seafront warden station (below Connaught Avenue) to the public toilets below Cambridge Road.
A family day spent at Frinton can still include a tasty ice cream or treat if desired; the shops are a short walk away from the beach and sell plenty of things for little people seeking to spend pocket money, including beach toys, trinkets and postcards.
Jeanette concludes: ‘Frinton is rather unique with a natural, clean seaside atmosphere and a safe beach. People can enjoy picnics and make their own fun without demands from children for alternative entertainment. Parking is easy and free of charge and there is a shopping street nearby if anything is needed — and the locals are friendly!’