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Skegness is a seaside town and civil parish within the East Lindseymarker district of Lincolnshiremarker, England. Located on the Lincolnshire coast of the North Seamarker, east of the city of Lincolnmarker it has a total resident population of 18,910. Grid reference: TF564636.

Skegness is the location of the first of the Butlins holiday resorts, built in 1936, which remains within the area to this day, and in this capacity, remains one of the more famous seaside resorts in the United Kingdom.


Early history

The name indicates that Skegness has its origin in the Danishmarker period of settlement in England. Local historians say that the town took its name from Skeggi (meaning 'bearded one'), one of the Vikings who established the original settlement which has since been washed away by the sea. However, it is much more likely to have derived from words which appear in modern Danish as skæg, beard and næs, nose or in geographical terms, headland.

Lying within the historic county boundaries of Lincolnshiremarker from a very early time, for governance, the parish of Skegness was in the Marsh division of the ancient Candleshoe Wapentake in the Parts of Lindsey.

Longshore drift carries particles of sediment southwards along the Lincolnshire coast but at Skegness, the sand settles out in banks (tombolos) which run at a slight angle to the coast forming the beard. The slightly elevated dune land sheltered the small natural harbour which the Danes found behind the banks. The finer sediment drifts on to find a home in the mud of The Washmarker, beyond Gibraltar Pointmarker.

In August 1642, a consignment of arms and money, probably raised by Queen Henrietta Maria, in the Netherlands for the support of King Charles I's campaign in the Civil War, was forced into Skegness by the ships of the Parliamentarian Earl of Warwick.

Skegness was primarily a fishing village and small port until the arrival of the railway in 1875. In 1908, Great Northern Railways commissioned a poster to advertise excursions to the resort, the first being from King's Cross, London on Good Friday 1908, leaving London at 11.30 am. The 'Skegness is so Bracing' poster featuring The Jolly Fisherman helped to put Skegness on the map and is now world famous. The poster, derived from an oil painting by John Hassall , was purchased by the railway company for the 12 guineas. Paradoxically, Mr Hassall did not visit the resort until 1936. He is said to have died penniless.

Resort town and Butlins

Most of the land in what is now the downtown core formed part of the estate of the Earl of Scarbrough and he, together with his agent H.V.Tippet, realised that the extensive sandy beach could be made attractive to holidaymakers from the industrial towns of the English Midlands, a clientele already developed by Thomas Cook. He planned the town as a resort from 1877 and it expanded rapidly, but along with many other UK resorts, especially those on the cold North Seamarker, it lost out to the cheap package holiday boom which opened up Spain (in particular) to the average holidaymaker after World War II currency restrictions were lifted and travellers could leave the UK with more than 50 pounds.

Ingoldmellsmarker, the parish to the north of Skegness, was the site of the UK's first Holiday Camp, started by Billy Butlin in 1936. Butlins is still there today, in modern dress, at the north end of the town, on the road to Ingoldmells. It maintains its appeal as a popular destination for family holidays, and attracts thousands to the resort in the low season with music weekends encompassing 60s, 80s, soul and other genres.

The Wash Incident

The Wash Incident took place in the early hours of 5 October 1996 when a strange red and green rotating light was seen by many Skegness residents and police officers to the southeast of Skegness, who then contacted the Coastguard at Great Yarmouthmarker. It later involved many RAF stations, including RAF Neatisheadmarker, and GCHQmarker. The object was not an aircraft because although it could be seen on radar, it had no transponder. The Skegness News, a local newspaper which no longer exists, investigated the incident and sought confirmation of the object from the Jodrell Bank Observatorymarker. In their report to the RAF, the observatory said that Venus, ‘the queen of UFOs’, which had been shining with exceptional brilliance in the early morning sky to the east, probably explained the light shown on the video. However, the mystery was never completely solved.

Present day

In March 2005, Skegness took the top spot in a survey by "Yours magazine", looking at the best retirement places in the UK. Yours researchers visited sixty likely towns, and factors involved in judging included house prices, hospital waiting lists, the crime rate, council tax rates, activities and attractions, weather patterns and ease of transport. It has also been described by Lonely Planet's Great Britain guide as "everything you could want" in a seaside resort. On 22 July 2008 the newly elected Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, caused controversy in an article in the Daily Telegraph where he declared "Stuff Skegness, my trunks and I are off to the sun" in his desire to have a foreign holiday this year.

Tourist industry

The centre of Skegness, showing the clock tower and the “Jolly Fisherman“ sculpture/fountain.

Today the town's tourist industry mainly caters for working-class holiday-makers and day-trippers.

Skegness has been dubbed "the Blackpoolmarker of the East Coast" or "Skeggy", and has a famous mascot, the Jolly Fisherman (designed by John Hassall in 1908 for the Great Northern Railway), and a slogan - "Skegness is so bracing" - a reference to the chilly prevailing north-easterly winds that can and frequently do blow off the North Seamarker.

The town is popularly known as Skeg, Skeggy, Costa del Skeg or Skegvegas. Further up the coast are the other holiday resorts of Mablethorpemarker, Sutton-on-Seamarker, Ingoldmellsmarker and Chapel St Leonardsmarker.

Many of the hotels, guest-houses, self catering apartments and bed & breakfast establishments in and around the Skegness area are members of the "Skegness East Coast and Wolds Hospitality Association" or SECWHA for short. An association formed in April 2008 after the merging of two previous associations known as "The Skegness Hoteliers Association", consisting of Hotel, bed and breakfast and guest house accommodation providers and the "Skegness Self Catering Association", consisting of holiday flats, chalet and caravan parks.

However, Skegness, like many UK resorts, has suffered in recent years due to the increase in cheap foreign package holidays over staying at home. Its past two summer seasons have been marred by rain, and in the 18 months leading up to the end of 2008, the resort had suffered the destruction by fire of three of its most popular attractions - The Dunes pub at Winthorpe, the Parade Complex which housed a nightclub, bar and amusement arcade, and most recently a seafront building housing two bars and a chip shop.


At the end of Lumley Road is the town's prominent clock tower, its most well-recognised landmark, built in 1898-99 and funded through public subscription. The clock tower became the subject of a hoax in the Skegness Standard on 1 April 2009, when the newspaper claimed that it was about to be dismantled and moved to a museum.

Beyond the clock tower, Tower Esplanade leads to the beach, with a statue of the Jolly Fisherman in the Compass Gardens to one side and the entrance to the once-popular boating lake on the other. The name Lumley comes from the surname of the Earl of Scarbrough's family. St Matthew's church of Early English Gothic style is on Lumley Avenue, being built by the Earl of Scarbrough in 1879, and [St Clement's] is on Church Road North. Tower Gardens, previously known as the Pleasure Gardens, opened in 1878 after being generously donated by the Earl of Scarbrough. The gardens have events during the summer.
Skegness pier, 2006
Skegness had a 1,843 foot (562 m) long pier which was opened on Whit Monday 1881, at that time it was the fourth longest in England. Steamboat trips ran from the pier to The Wash and Hunstantonmarker in Norfolk from 1882 until 1910. In 1919, it was damaged by a drifting ship, the schooner Europa, and it took twenty years to raise the money to fully repair it. In 1978 the pier was badly damaged and considerably shortened; this time by severe gales. The pier has since undergone major refurbishment and is now once again a thriving tourist attraction, although it no longer extends far seaward of the high tide line.

Well-known hotels include the Lumley, the Vine, Southview Park Hotel (west along the A158), the Crown, the County, the Links, and the Royal Renaissance Hotel, which was previously known as the Seacroft.

The RNLI has a station in Skegness. It is manned by a crew who are all volunteers except for the coxswain, and equipped with two lifeboats - the all-weather Lincolnshire Poacher and a smaller dinghy-style inshore boat. The town has a long and rich lifeboat history. The Coastguard have a base on the town's industrial estate.

Two miles out to sea is an offshore drilling platform for gas, and clearly visible from the beach - and indeed several miles further inland - is a large wind farm operated by Centrica.


Lumley Road, High Street and Roman Bank are the main shopping areas, with plenty of fish and chip shops and pubs. There are large Lidl, Morrisons and Tescomarker supermarkets and a smaller Iceland store all located in the centre of the town near the railway station. There are two Co-op stores in Skegness, the larger store of the two is located in the Hildreds Shopping Centre and the smaller of the two located on High Street . There are also seasonal shops for ways to entertain oneself, such as kites, buckets and spades.


The main strip of road along the beach is a kaleidoscope of neon and flashing lights advertising arcade machines, slot machines, fairground rides, crazy golf, fish-and-chip shops and various bars.

On 16 August 2007, a huge fire hit an entertainment complex on the Skegness front, wiping out the town's main nightclub and a large amusement arcade. No-one was injured but the severity of the fire meant that the complex had to be demolished. There are now plans to build a hotel on the site.

In the latter part of 2008, another fire broke out at a building a little further along the seafront. This time, pubs and a fish-and-chip shop were gutted.

Skegness has an annual carnival in August, along with a week-long programme of events throughout the town. East Lindseymarker District Council used to operate the carnival procession, but they handed over control of the event to a group of volunteers who now run it on a smaller scale.


Skegness Hospital has two entrances - accident and emergency on Dorothy Avenue and the main entrance on Lincoln Road. In October 2005, the East Lincolnshire Primary Care Trust closed the Scarbrough Ward as part of a package of money-saving measures. Locals were outraged by the decision, because the ward represented about a third of the hospital's entire capacity and also provided palliative care. Campaigners including doctors, nurses, business people, journalists and councillors marched through the streets and held up the traffic, then later called for the resignations of the PCT board members after they turned down a £100,000 donation offered by East Lindsey District Council to enable the ward to remain open through the winter. The PCT said the donation would "impinge" on its duties, and could be considered "unlawful" if accepted. The ward re-opened in 2006 and began operating to its previous capacity again.

The town also has two large GP practices, a nurse-lead community mental health team, providing long-term and short-term care and a PCT health centre; the latter being on Cecil Avenue.

Schools and colleges

Primary education establishments

  • Richmond Primary School
  • Seathorne Primary School
  • Skegness Infant School
  • Skegness Junior School
  • The Viking School (independent)

Secondary education establishments

Tertiary education establishments

  • Skegness College of Vocational Training on Wilford Grove and Grosvenor Road.
  • Skegness Academy on Briar Way, run by Grimsby Institutemarker and Boston Collegemarker (opened in 2006).

Places of interest

Classic seaside donkeys at Skegness, July 2005


The long and wide sandy beach features a fine herd of donkeys for riding, and has several times won the Blue Flag beach award for cleanliness, though it failed the test in 2008.

The shape of the beach itself has changed considerably in the last decade. In the mid-1990s an extensive programme of enhancement to the sea defences was carried out, with the installation of rock armour along the length of Lagoon Walk. This provided a very effective barrier against the sea's tremendous power, but consequently the highest tides were forced southwards. The Environment Agency predicted that the sea would destroy Skegness Boating Club's boat compound and possibly wipe out a grassed picnic area just behind it. As the tides shifted, the boat compound was indeed flattened by the sea. Sand dunes were washed away and significant new creeks were carved into the beach, but so far the picnic area remains intact. The boating club now has a new compound just off the Princes Parade car park.

Fairy Dell

On the southern foreshore sits a popular family attraction, the Fairy Dellmarker paddling pool. Closed by the district council because of health and safety fears in 2004, the pool soon became the centre of controversy as people from Skegness, elsewhere in the country and as far afield as Australia voiced their dismay at the loss of such a time-honoured free facility. Taxpayers and town councillors joined forces with the local press to campaign for the Fairy Dell to be reopened, and the district council gave way to public pressure and promised to have it back in operation by summer 2006.

On 22 May 2006 the Fairy Dell re-opened following a major refurbishment during which many improvements were made to the pool such as clean-filtered water and extra water features.


Transport links


The A52 passes through the town from Boston to Mablethorpe and the A158 connects Lincolnmarker to Skegness.


The railway station concourse
The town is served by Skegness railway stationmarker, which is the terminus for the Grantham to Skegness Line. Trains run the full lengh of this and the Nottingham to Grantham Line to give connections to the East Midlands.

Nottinghammarker, Granthammarker, Bostonmarker and Sleafordmarker have direct connections, while popular places such as Leicestermarker, Derbymarker and Ketteringmarker require a change.


Fine beaches link the coastal towns, and there are many large caravan parks in the surrounding countryside. One caravan park a short distance to the north of the town near Ingoldmells has its own airfield, with a 755 metre grass runway. Visiting pilots can call the airfield on 132.425 MHz, although PPR (Prior Permission Required) is stated for landing. A number of years ago, pleasure flights used to operate from the aerodrome.


Skegness Stadium, just outside the town, hosts stock car racing throughout the year, with special events such as truck racing, stunt shows, firework displays and caravan racing. Speedway racing was staged at the stadium in 1997. The Skegness Braves failed in both of their attempts to operate there for a full season.

Skegness also has a football club and a rugby club, as well as various martial arts and other groups.

News and media

The resort is served primarily by three local newspapers - the Skegness Standard, Skegness Citizen and Skegness Target. It also has a web-only news service at, and a news and events text message service provided through AQA 63336.
  • The Skegness Target is a free newspaper when copies are delivered to homes, which they are each week, but it is a paid-for newspaper when copies are bought from retail outlets such as newsagents and petrol stations.
  • The Skegness Standard is always a paid-for newspaper and the Skegness Citizen is a free newspaper which is delivered to homes and is produced by the team which publishes the Standard. Neil Wallis, ex-editor of The Sun, and People, currently deputy editor of the News of the World, an ex-resident of Tarran Way, and pupil at Skegness Grammar School, started his journalistic career in the 1960s on the Skegness Standard
  • TV-wise, Skegness is covered by BBC Yorkshire & Lincolnshire/ITV Yorkshire, though it overlaps with BBC East Midlands/ITV Central (East)
  • now provides news coverage

Skegness 2020 Vision

During 2008 and 2009, Skegness residents are taking part in the Skegness 2020 Vision initiative to draw up a Local Plan for the town.

Under this scheme, a group of volunteers from a cross-section of the community are leading efforts to find out exactly what the people of the town want to see change, and indeed the things they want to remain. This is being done through surveys and public consultations at a number of different venues.

The aim is to produce a 'blueprint' for the development of Skegness by the end of 2009. It will cover the next ten to twelve years and be a 'vision' for the future, hence the name Skegness 2020 Vision, and will then be used as a guide for developers and councillors when it comes to submitting and granting applications for planning permission.

Improvement to hospital facilities, a relief road, a redevelopment of the railway station and the setting up of a community centre are among the issues which Skegness people have so far highlighted as important.


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