Why fabulous Frinton-on-Sea is so good for sport and recreation
PUBLISHED: 15:59 01 August 2019
Frinton on Sea’s idyllic beaches provide the perfect backdrop for many activities and competitive sports, as well as sand castle building and kite-flying, explains Petra Hornsby
The charm of Frinton on Sea certainly leaves a lasting impression on the first-time visitor and explains why it remains a firm favourite with the county's keenest beach seekers.
A very long row of pastel-coloured huts line the sea-front where those who promenade navigate their way around bright deckchairs and cool boxes, inflatables and beach toys, tethered dogs, dozing parents and sleeping babies.
The family friendly beach offers plenty of perfect sand for castle-building or burying dad, and the water's edge is never too far away for filling the bucket to add to the moat, that ten seconds later will need filling again.
Meanwhile, the weather-worn groynes that separate each piece of beach also double up as wind-breaks on gustier days.
Away from the beach, climb the path back up to the greensward and maybe enjoy a picnic away from the sand. Fly a kite perhaps or just lie back and enjoy the view of the North Sea peacefully lapping this perfectly maintained and lovingly regulated (by those who live there) part of the Essex coastline.
A short walk into the town, where Frinton's main businesses line the high street, provides a place to buy an ice cream or a cup of tea, or to have a browse around the independent shops that can delight a day tripper with holiday pocket money to spend.
It's a day-trippers dream, and one would imagine that those who choose to live in Frinton enjoy much of the same, but judging by the town's excellent facilities and clubs, local residents enjoy added benefits too.
This includes some fantastic sports clubs whose traditions and histories are embedded in the character and growth of this coastal town which began thanks largely to the vision of developer Sir Robert Powell Cooper who, in 1893, purchased land in Frinton, intending to make a resort fit for the aristocracy.
Golf in Frinton began in 1895 with a nine-hole course designed by Tom Dunn. The original site of that course now has houses rather than bunkers and is where the Second and Third Avenue sit within the town.
The new and current site was designed in 1904 by the twice Open Champion Willie Park Junior and, notwithstanding a few changes here and there, the course has stayed much the same. Today, there are in fact two courses: the nine-hole Kirby course and an 18-hole Havers course.
Although World War II did interrupt play, as the military claimed the course and dug in several mines in the process such was the very real threat of an enemy invasion along the county's coastline, but in 1947 things started to return to normal.
Today the club can boast of being at the vanguard of progress by, for example, being one of the first clubs to declare full equality of the sexes in its membership.
The club house may well be one of the oldest surviving club houses in the country too, having been built in 1904. Its facilities include a terraced bar, private lounge and dining room, and the building and setting offers an ideal venue for many private events including weddings.
Almost as old as the Golf Club is Frinton on Sea's Lawn Tennis Club, which was founded in 1899 and is proud to be entering its 120th season of providing excellent sporting facilities for residents and those living locally to Frinton.
The club has 16 beautifully maintained grass tennis courts and eight all-weather courts. Squash players are catered for too, with access to two courts, and general fitness is available via a fully equipped gym and exercise studio.
A heated outdoor pool is a great bonus for everyone to enjoy during the warmer months and, like the golf club, the tennis club house is a popular venue for private events thanks to its beautiful timbered and thatched architecture.
The club is clearly keen to develop the tennis players of tomorrow with special holiday camps which will be taking place during the month of August.
Designed for kids aged from four upwards, the classes (divided into three age categories) offer a fun environment for beginners and intermediate levels to gain further skills while being safely overseen by a qualified LTA coach.
The club offers a range of membership packages, from comprehensive to bespoke, and also accepts membership for one or two weeks, which is perfect for visitors during the holiday season.
After the golf and tennis, just a little bit later in 1909, came cricket. With its recognisable pavilion, which happily survived a fire in the late 1940s, Frinton's cricket club and ground has a reputation of being one of the most charming in the country.
Cricket has been played at the site near Ashlyns Road for all but five years of its history. Prior to that, members met and played on the bottom end of the greensward.
In 1909, the town's developer, Sir Richard Powell Cooper, gifted the site to the club in trust, on condition that they played at least one game there each year, which was a challenge they quite clearly (and happily) met, although this condition was hard to meet when the grounds were claimed by the Army during World War II and the land was used for growing vegetables.
Following the war, it was used as a firing range and, according to club history, it was not unusual for players to find the odd spent cartridge or, in one case, an unexploded hand grenade!
Following the war, a mixed ability XI was formed to play on Sundays. The team complemented the first and second XIs although the decision to eventually join a league (introduced in the 1960s) was met with some division within the club.
Many felt it was a negative move and felt it would spoil the camaraderie of amateur cricket matches. One positive was the prospect of guaranteed fixtures and it was this view that prevailed; since when the club can report many great successes.
Frinton does sometimes attract some negative comments about not moving with the times, but the opportunities that can be found in the town to get involved in such well-run, traditional, sports clubs are yet another example of the legacy of a visionary developer back in 1893 who had very clear ideas about how he wanted this coastal town to be.