Beach Hut People
By Nancy Stevenson
Published by Publishing Household, 2023
Creative non-fiction/social history
ISBN 978 1 7393567 0 5
Designed by Claire Mason at Flush Left
Have you ever wondered about the people who choose to spend summer days in their beach huts? Maybe you’ve taken pictures of the huts and chuckled at their cheeky names? Perhaps you’ve peeked inside their open doors? Possibly you've paused and said hello to the people sat chatting and drinking tea outside?
Nancy Stevenson captures a unique slice of seaside culture by taking us on a journey in which we discover more about the people who inhabit these ‘sheds by the sea’. Beach Hut People takes us beyond the hut exteriors and uncovers the way of the beach hut community. Exploring traditions, changes, challenges and personal expression and style, Nancy shares her reflections on beach hut culture in this thoughtful and eloquent book. Based on conversations with 60 people who own or regularly visit beach huts, it is a collection of shared stories: experiences, routines, of things that people collect and display in their huts, and the way they choose to style them.
Nancy began her journey unconvinced; she loved the beach but was always on the move. A walker and a swimmer, she just couldn’t see the attraction of settling down in a hut but started to understand as she collected stories between 2019 and 2022. People shared memories about the best days, the olden days, childhood, family and the feelings evoked by a day at the hut. She was welcomed into a friendly community which started to give her a sense of what it is to be a ‘beach-hutter’.
There are over 3,000 huts in North Essex, many of which are located along the edge of the resort towns Frinton-on-Sea and Walton-on-the-Naze which provide the setting for these tales.
‘Nancy Stevenson has stepped behind the familiar candy-coloured, bucket-and-spade world of the seaside beach hut to discover a much more profound relationship chalet-users have with the wide skies and careless pleasures of the seashore, and where the family hut is a precious repository of childhood memories, handed down from one generation to the next’. -Ken Worpole
About the author
Nancy Stevenson is a writer and researcher. Her research centres on people’s engagement in leisure activities and is embedded in local landscapes. She has written about festivals, walking, writing and wellbeing and the importance of pleasure and play in community life. She spends her time between North London and the Essex Coast, and hosts writing retreats in Frinton on Sea. Beach Hut People is her first book. Instagram: write_nancy_write
Tuesday 13 June , 6 –8 pm
University of Westminster
35 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5LS.
Places are free but booking will be required.
Five speakers explore personal and embodied experiences of domestic and leisure places in this London Festival of Architecture event. We journey beyond the materiality of these places and reflect upon meanings, dreams, practices and memories. We invite you to explore the ‘so much more’ associated with the places that you encounter every day.
We start at home with Sam Johnson Schlee who encourages us to pay attention to objects in the living room. Then we move on to meet Rebecca May Johnson as she mixes critical thought and recipes in the kitchen. We join Ro Spankie in the study as she investigates the objects in Freud’s desk. Nancy Stevenson takes us outside to consider experiences of ‘out-dwelling’ in wooden huts and sheds. Finally, Karen Fitzsimon takes us onto the allotment to contemplate growing food as a way of being.
Questions, refreshments and book signings at the end of the session.
Copies of 'Beach Hut People' will be available at launch price of £10.
Chaired by Maja Jovic. Curated by Nancy Stevenson.
The Eventbrite link is here:
This event is part of the London Festival of Architecture which takes place throughout June.
Publishing Household is the publishing imprint of The Nose bookshop and project space in Walton on the Naze, Essex. @publishinghousehold