Fancy Something Juicy? – Portraits of Life on the Streets of Scarborough

John Gill's pictures show us the faces of people enjoying life in Yorkshire's seaside resort

John Gill live in Yorkshire in the UK in a former coal mining area. In the summers, John heads to Scarborough, a seaside resort on Yorkshire’s North Sea coastline, and a place he’d been visiting ever since he was a child.




“When I was a kid, we didn’t have holidays. There was no car, no money, and my father had long since disappeared with his debts and booze,” says John. “What we did have was a once-a-year day trip to one of the nearest seaside towns. In our case this would invariably be either Scarborough or Bridlington on the Yorkshire coast. These trips would be organised by the local Working Men’s Club where my aunt and uncle were members.

“Working Men’s Clubs were (and probably still are for all I know) strange places. It was very rare we went but what I remember was the ‘turn’ (usually a middle-aged man with brushed drums and a middle-aged woman on a keyboard). They’d play a few pieces that loosely had some kind of melody, and then it would all stop for bingo. And, weirdly, at the end of the night a man would appear with a pallet on his shoulder and offer people fish. So the night would end with the smell of beer, cigarettes and haddock. But this was the price to be paid for the ‘club trip’.”


Scarborough England

Marine Drive, Scarborough 1980s

“Bundled onto a coach with the aroma of disinfectant, we’d hit the road to the coast, invariably stopping on the way for someone who needed the toilet or to vomit. Looking back, these trips were terrible, but along with Christmas and birthdays, they were the highlight of the year.

“I still go to these towns today. In many ways these places have changed very little. Parents and children still amble from one end of the seafront to the other, stopping at the amusements, ice cream stalls and cafes (the ‘pensioners’ special still seems to be fish, chips, mushy peas, a slice of bread and a cup of tea).”




“The photographs I take in these towns now are very similar to those I took when I first started in photography. Perhaps that’s the appeal, the familiarity, the nostalgia. Of course, these towns are no longer the once-a-year treat, just a quick trip in the car to the same cafes with their pensioner specials and the same amusement arcades.

“Familiarity breeds contempt, and these places have largely lost their ‘special’ attraction and have seen a similar decline to the former industrial towns.

“That’s the thing with nostalgia, though. It’s not a longing for better days. It’s more a fond remembrance of when we had less but needed less.”





“People are very suspicious of photographers so I have to be very quick and very discrete, ” he told AAPP in 2018. “especially as I get quite close. It would be nice to be able to have more time to concentrate on getting technically better images but it would lose the spontaneity and realism of shooting candidly. Probably the biggest challenge in weighing up the risks involved in taking the picture – especially in less affluent areas. I have had someone threaten to kill me!”



Scarborough scarborough Scarborough Scarborough England


Scarborough, 1990s

You can see more of John’s fabulous photos on his site.

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