One look at this photograph and you can imagine the excitement of being in the scene. Waves crashing over sea walls, sending spray up over anyone brave enough to get close.
“That image could be of any of us,” says Beaford Arts promoter and village resident Kate Madden. “If there’s going to be a high tide and wind in the right direction everyone goes down to see the waves.”
The main village of Lee is a little further inland, along a footpath through fields, or the narrow lane which is just visible between the buildings at the top right of the image.
Kate says children, and some adults too, would run up and down the lane behind the wall to the right, trying to dodge the water as it crashed up and over the stone.
“It’s a basic, natural thing to do, chasing the water, running and getting drenched,” she adds. And it’s great fun of course. It can also act as a way of bringing the community together, families coming outside to weather watch, then stand around chatting and catching up with each other, sharing something exciting and transient.
“The sea is always so powerful,” says Kate. “doing its own thing; it’s something you can’t control.” At various times in the past, this force has led to serious damage to both the house in the middle of the picture and to the sea wall, and Kate admits to “thinking twice now” about going to the waterfront in stormy winter conditions. “I do think the storms have been getting worse, they are more newsworthy now.”
We can’t see any faces in the image; like us, everyone is looking towards the waves as they roll up against the sea wall. But you can still gauge the emotions without having to see people’s expressions.
“When I first saw this photo I thought, ‘that’s us! And then I thought how little things have changed since then. It’s pretty much identical to what you’d see today,” says Kate. Even the clothing of the individuals in the group could be worn today, the wellies, waterproofs, rucksacks and flip-flops.