Development of the seaside resort
The development of the seaside resort was one of the striking features of urbanisation in nineteenth-century Britain. Although not as spectacular as the new urban growths in the industrial north of England, the urbanisation of Britain's coastline was a significant economic and social phenomenon. Some resorts were very large: in 1881 the population of Brighton stood at over 100,000, with another 20,000 living in adjacent Hove, while Hastings had over 40,000 people, and another five resorts, including Scarborough in Yorkshire, had over 30,000 (Walton).
Rapid growth in first half of the nineteenth century
Like other towns, seaside resorts developed at different speeds and at different times. In the first half of the nineteenth century the most rapid growth was experienced by Hove (a scarcely credible increase of 3963.4% between 1801 and 1851), Weston-super-Mare (2808.7%), Worthing (1184.7%) and Brighton (793.4%). Between 1851 and 1881 Penarth in south Wales (4626.7%) and Bournemouth on the south coast (2425.8%) experienced the largest expansion, while Brighton achieved only a relatively modest growth of 64% (Walton).
The size of a resort's population on census night, of course, does not tell the whole story. The census was usually carried out in March or April: had it been carried out in the summer months, the number of people in seaside resorts would have been greatly swelled by visitors.