Life’s a beach (hut)
PUBLISHED: 16:03 24 September 2007 | UPDATED: 14:52 20 February 2013
For those lucky enough to own a beach hut in Sussex, life really does revolve around the sea, as Nancy Cremore reveals.Pictures by Kate Eastman...
Logging on to the internet to search for beach huts for sale, my dreams of owning a small patch of shingle on the south coast are shattered by the revelation that I will need to find more than £15,000 for the privilege.
Granted, some areas are more expensive than others, the pretty huts at Rustington are on for £17,000, whilst just down the road at East Preston you can pick up a slightly plainer version for £11,000. And just be thankful we don't live in Dorset - huts in the fishing village of Mudeford are the most expensive in the country, regularly selling for more than £100,000.
Less than 20 years ago, it was possible to buy a hut and still get change from £200, but over the years they have become quite a fashion accessory, pushing the price up more than fifty-fold in the process.
Barry Sprules, who supplies beach hut kits, thinks it's "all about getting away from it all" and says they sell 75 per cent of huts through people coming to see them at their site in Rustington. You'll rarely find them on estate agents' websites, as word of mouth often does the trick, and a whole world of neighbourhood hut watchers, hut carers, and craftsmen specialising in bespoke beach hut building has shot up to cater for the needs of this market.
As for what you get for your money, the huts along the Sussex coast vary enormously: from vibrant and multi-coloured on Hove lawns, to demure all-white versions at Goring by Sea, and from tiny blue and white cupboards at Eastbourne to palatial at Seaford - each town most definitely has its own style.
But apart from the undeniable charm and nostalgic allure of a line of beach huts on a sunny day, what's the appeal?
Perhaps originating from the less coastal country of Belgium, and then ending up in the land-locked county of Hertfordshire would explain Herlinde Fraser's strong need to be by the sea.
When she moved to Sussex in 2000, the first thing she did was inquire about beach huts. "I was so disappointed when I found out there was a two-year waiting list," she says. But this didn't deter her. "I kept ringing and bugging the council about it and eventually, in summer 2001, they told me I could have one. I was absolutely delighted."
Herlinde, below, has fond memories of time spent on the beach: she swims most days, has made many friends and has been known to take her camera along at 5am to capture the sunrise. "But the memory that sticks in my mind the most," says Herlinde, "was last summer when my daughter came over from Australia. We just had such a lovely time together, swimming and hanging out with friends and family on the beach."
Herlinde pays £580 rent a year for her hut. "Nearly every day people come up to me asking how they can get hold of a beach hut, as if they can just pick them up for the day!"...