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Press release

  • 22 August 2006

Sussex Dean reveals to Richard & Judy why everyone likes to be beside the seaside

Professor Grays book featured on Richard & Judy.

Professor Gray's book featured on Richard & Judy.

The charm of piers, pavilions and pebble beaches was explained by a University of Sussex professor in a live interview with television's most popular day-time couple.

Professor Fred Gray spoke about the enduring appeal of seaside holidays with Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan when he appeared on their Channel 4 television chat show. The live interview follows the publication of Professor Gray's book Designing The Seaside: Architecture, Society and Nature, charting the history of seafront buildings since the 18th century.

The Professor of Continuing Education says: "Most people have been to the seaside and will have both fond and miserable memories of it. Britain is the place that invented the seaside resort and there is still a fascination with coming to the beach especially among those people who live inland."

A decade in the making, Professor Gray was inspired to write the book after organising a touring exhibition on England's seaside architecture, with funding from the Arts Council. Research trips to resorts stretching from Bournemouth to Scarborough soon followed, as Professor Gray documented everything from Punch & Judy booths to bandstands and beach huts.

Brighton's West Pier, the newly-restored De La Warr Pavilion at Bexhill in East Sussex and the Blackpool Tower are among examples of architecture discussed in Designing The Seaside. The book covers the formal and informal design processes involved in major buildings as well as ephemeral structures such as resort parks, open spaces and shops selling candy floss.

Professor Gray's research also spread to America, Europe and the Far East where fairgrounds, boardwalks and swimming pools are regular features on the water's edge. The live television appearance on Richard & Judy last Wednesday (16) is the latest stop in a book tour including visits to the Old Market and City Books, both in Hove.

Professor Gray says: "I am excited to have been invited on to the show and it is something I will probably dine out on for weeks!"

Notes for editors

Professor Fred Gray is Dean of the Sussex Institute and until 2001 was the Director of the Centre for Continuing Education at the University of Sussex. He is also director of the West Pier Trust, Brighton Fishing Museum Trust and the Brighton Dome and Festival Limited.


Designing the Seaside: Architecture, Society and Nature was published by Reaktion Books in July 2006, priced £29. For details visit 

University of Sussex Press Office contacts: Jacqui Bealing and Jessica Mangold, tel. 01273 678209,


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