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Octagonal brick and limestone tower on a square limestone base, designed like a Gothic church porch. The tower is capped with a square lantern, a white clock face on each side, heavy with Roman numerals. The towering roof is capped with a gold-coloured weathervane. The viewpoint is on the short coast road called Tower Esplanade; behind the tower is the row of tourist-trap shops in Lumley Road. The tower dominates the picture, standing out of a partly blue sky mostly filled with white, purplish, clouds. There is a ring of brick flowerbeds ringing the roundabout where the tower is. The photo was taken in May, the flower beds are just green.
Skegness Clock Tower
Skegness From the Pier - - 544115.jpg
Skegness from the pier
Population 19,579 (2011 Census)
OS grid reference TF5663
• London 115 mi (185 km) S
Shire county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town SKEGNESS
Postcode district PE24, PE25
Dialling code 01754
Police Lincolnshire
Fire Lincolnshire
Ambulance East Midlands
EU Parliament East Midlands
UK Parliament
  • Boston and Skegness
List of places
LincolnshireCoordinates: 53°08′N 0°20′E / 53.14°N 0.34°E / 53.14; 0.34

Skegness (pronounced /ˌskɛɡˈnɛs/) is a seaside town and civil parish in the East Lindsey district of Lincolnshire, England, on the Lincolnshire coast of the North Sea, 43 miles (69 km) east of Lincoln. In the 2011 census Skegness civil parish had a population of 19,579.

The first Butlin's holiday resort opened in Skegness in 1936.


Longshore drift carries particles of sediment southwards along the Lincolnshire coast; at Skegness, the sand settles out in banks which run at a slight angle to the coast. The slightly elevated dune land sheltered the small natural harbour which the Danes found behind the banks. The finer sediment drifts on to reach the mud of the Wash, beyond Gibraltar Point.

The civil parish extends westwards along the A158 to the west side of the South View Hotel, and the boundary follows North Drain, bordering Burgh le Marsh. Just north of Mill Hill it borders Addlethorpe, passing to the west of Ash Tree Farm, the airfield and Skegness Water Leisure Park. At the north end of the leisure park it borders Ingoldmells, and the boundary follows to the south of Wall's Lane. The boundary crosses the A52 at a subway across the road, just south of the Butlin's camp. To the south of the hotel on the A158, the parish follows Main Drain, to the west of Warth Lane. Just south of Ivy House, it crosses the A52 and borders Croft. The boundary follows Cow Bank Drain, over a level crossing, to the north of Croft Grange, then passes through Bramble Hills, just north of Seacroft Golf Course to the sea.

Skegness is on the drier eastern side of Britain: this is often used in promoting it as a holiday resort.


As with most of the British Isles, Skegness experiences a maritime climate with warm summers and cool winters. Temperature extremes since 1960 have ranged from 32.4 °C (90.3 °F) In August 1990, down to −10.1 °C (13.8 °F) in February 2012, which is the lowest recorded temperature in recent years.

Climate data for Skegness Wainfleet, elevation: 3m (1981-2010) Extremes (1960 - present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.1
Average high °C (°F) 6.6
Daily mean °C (°F) 4.1
Average low °C (°F) 1.6
Record low °C (°F) -10.0
Precipitation mm (inches) 53.3
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 11.2 10.0 10.4 9.2 9.0 10.0 9.1 9.9 9.0 10.4 12.4 11.3 121.6
Source #1: Met Office
Source #2: KNMI


Early history

The name indicates that Skegness has its origin in the Danish period of settlement of England although there is no reference to a village named Skegness in the Domesday Book. The town's name means either "Skeggi's headland" or "beard-shaped headland" (possibly referring to the banks at an angle to the coast). Skeggi(meaning "bearded one"), may have been one of the Vikings who established the original settlement to the east of the current town which was washed away by the sea in the early 16th century; or the Old East Norse word skegg "beard".

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

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


The Jolly Fisherman - - 1455608
Jolly Fisherman at the railway station

Skegness was primarily a fishing village and small port, and significant numbers of visitors were not seen before the arrival of the railway in 1875. In 1908, the Great Northern Railway commissioned a poster to advertise excursions to the resort: the first such excursion was 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 famous. The poster, derived from an oil painting by John Hassall, was purchased by the railway company for 12 guineas (£12.60). However Mr Hassall did not visit the resort until 1936. He is said to have died penniless. Skegness is now served by an East Midlands Trains service from Nottingham via Grantham.

Resort town and Butlin's

Skegness beach
Skegness Beach
Butlins skegness 1938
Butlin's 1938 badge

Most of the land in the modern centre of Skegness formed part of the estate of the Earl of Scarbrough. He and agent H. V. Tippet realised that the extensive sandy beach could be made attractive to holidaymakers from the industrial towns of the 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 Sea, it lost out to the cheap package holiday boom which opened up Spain (in particular) to the average holidaymaker, especially when currency restrictions were lifted in the 1970s and travellers could leave the UK with more than 65 pounds.

Ingoldmells, 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, at the north end of the town, on the road to Ingoldmells. It maintains its appeal as a 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 Skegness residents and police officers to the southeast of Skegness, who then contacted the Coastguard at Great Yarmouth. It later involved many RAF stations, including RAF Neatishead, and GCHQ. The object was probably 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 Observatory. 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. The object was caught on video by Skegness Police. The RAF decided the stationary blip was a permanent echo of the 272 ft tall St Botolph's Church, Boston, and the object on the video was the planet Venus.

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. The 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. Skegness 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 that year.

Tourist industry

Clock Tower, Skegness 1
The centre of Skegness, showing the clock tower and the "Jolly Fisherman" sculpture/fountain
Skegness Pier Main Entrance
The main entrance to Skegness Pier from North Parade

The town is popularly known as Skeg, Skeggy, Costa del Skeg, Skegvegas, or "the Blackpool of the East Coast", 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 Sea. The slogan is thought to have come from an unknown member of staff of the railway. The poster was first seen at Easter in conjunction with an excursion from King's Cross railway station. The last of these trips ran in 1913.

Further up the coast are the other holiday resorts of Mablethorpe, Sutton-on-Sea, Ingoldmells and Chapel St Leonards.

Many of the hotels, guest-houses, self-catering flats and bed & breakfast establishments in and around the Skegness area are members of the Skegness East Coast and Wolds Hospitality Association, an association formed in April 2008 after the merging of two previous associations, 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.

Skegness, like many British resorts, has suffered in recent years due to the increase in cheap foreign package holidays over staying at home. 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 a seafront building housing two bars and a fish and chip shop.


Diamond Jubilee Clock Tower

At the end of Lumley Road is the town's clock tower, built in 1898-99 to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897, and funded through public subscription. With the "Jolly Fisherman" mascot, it is the most recognised symbol of Skegness. The Diamond Jubilee 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. It is featured as a 3D rendering in Google Earth.


Church of St Clement, Skegness
Church of St Clement, Skegness

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, 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 donated by the Earl of Scarbrough. The gardens have events during the summer.


Skegness Pier (129 yards (118m)), April 2012
Skegness Pier Deck
Skegness Pier deck looking seawards
Skegness Pier Deck Looking Towards Main Building
Skegness Pier deck looking landward towards the main building entrance

Skegness had a 614 yards (562 m) long pier which was opened on Whit Monday 1881 at a cost of £20,840 and was at the time the fourth longest in England. It was a T-shaped pier with a saloon/concert hall at the pier head. Steamboat trips ran from the pier to the Wash and Hunstanton 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 the Second World War, the pier was closed and parts of the decking was removed as part of anti-invasion policies and did not reopen until 1948 following repairs. The north east corner of the pierhead suffered damage during the North Sea flood of 1953 and the pier entrance was flooded but the main structure survived. In the early 1970s the pier entrance archway was demolished despite it being classed as Grade II listed building and at the same time the pierhead theatre was enlarged from a seating capacity of 700 to 1,000.

On Wednesday 11 January 1978 a northerly severe gale and storm surge which coincided with high spring tides brought disaster and Skegness Pier along with other piers at Margate, Herne Bay and Hunstanton was irretrievably damaged and only 127 yards of landward pier deck walkway from the main entrance was left with the eastern shelters and the pierhead totally cut off and isolated from the shoreline. Debris from the wrecked pier was scattered for several miles around with souvenir hunters coming into the area to see what they could find.

For several years following the storm these two isolated structures remained as features on Skegness beach whilst plans to try to repair the pier and relink the structures were sought but this failed citing the costs as simply too high and in 1983 the eastern shelters were dismantled and demolished. By 1985 the decision was made to demolish the now derelict and isolated pierhead and theatre as the building was falling into a state of disrepair as the upper deck of the structure had been badly damaged following the 1978 storm although it had become a roosting place for hordes of starlings. It was considered a risk to small shipping and also to the public. Special permission for its demolition was granted as it was a Grade II listed building as was the rest of the pier. It was planned to dismantle the pierhead in stages starting from October 1985 and just as work was getting underway the structure caught fire and two stranded workmen had to be rescued by the town's lifeboat. After the fire burned itself out only the cast-iron stanchions were left and these were removed in January 1986 on one of the lowest tides of that year.

Today the pier is only 129 yards (118m) long and no evidence remains of the old pierhead and shelters but what remains of the landward pier deck walkway has since undergone major refurbishment and is now once again a tourist attraction, Though a tiny amount of the structure still stands from the sand, with a triangular sign warning of the piece of iron's presence. Despite its much reduced length it is a major landmark along the beach as far as Gibraltar Point to the south and Ingoldmells to the north.


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

Two miles (3 km) out to sea is an offshore drilling platform for gas, and clearly visible from the town is the large Lynn and Inner Dowsing Wind Farm operated by Centrica. A larger wind farm further out to sea has been proposed.


Clock Tower Skegness, July 2008
Clock Tower

On the main seafront road, Grand Parade, is the Embassy Theatre, fairground rides, amusement arcades, novelty outlets, a crazy golf course, fish and chip shops and other takeaways, and bars.

Skegness holds an annual carnival in August, which includes a week-long programme of events throughout the town. East Lindsey District Council previously operated the carnival procession but handed control of the event to a group of volunteers, who now run it on a smaller scale.

During the summer, since 2009, Skegness has held a music, art and cultural event, the SO Festival, which coincides with a switch-on of seafront illuminations.

On 16 August 2007, a fire at an entertainment and shopping complex on seafront destroyed the Strike's nightclub and Lucky Strike amusement arcade. Because of the severity of the fire, what remained of the complex had to be demolished. A new "Lucky Strike" family amusement arcade has been built with three floors, including "Cafe 66" on the ground floor, "WOW" milkshake bar and "Coffee Point" above and "Waterfront" a restaurant on the top tier. It is operated by Bell's Leisure, who operate other arcades such as "Plaza" further up Grand Parade near the pier and "Planet Fun" in Ingoldmells, near Fantasy Island further up the coast. In late 2008, a further fire at a building on the seafront took place, causing significant damage to a pub and amusement complex.

Places of interest

Donkeys at Skegness, July 2005


The long and wide sandy beach features donkeys for riding, and has several times won the Blue Flag beach award for cleanliness. The Central beach has retained its blue flag status for 2011/12. From 2007 the Quality Coast Award was introduced by Keep Britain tidy, an environmental charity focusing on raising the standards of beaches in England. This award is handed out in recognition of the achievements of beach managers and guarantees holiday makers that the beach is of the highest standards. The Central beach has been given the coveted "Quality Coast Award".

The shape of the beach 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 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.

A panorama of the Skegness beach front
A panorama of the Skegness beach front. Wind turbines are visible (centre). The Skegness donkeys can be seen at the far right.

Fairy Dell

On the southern foreshore sits a popular family attraction, the Fairy Dell paddling pool. Closed by the district council because of health and safety fears in 2004, the pool became a 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 improvements were made to the pool such as clean-filtered water and extra water features.

Natureland Seal Sanctuary

Natureland Seal Sanctuary provides visitors with entertainment, education and conservation. The sanctuary opened its doors in 1965 and attracts thousands of visitors each year. The sanctuary features seals, penguins, tropical and seawater aquariums and koi pond, a pets corner, tropical house and floral palace. Natureland works with abandoned baby seals which are often washed up on the beach and in need of medical care. Staff treat and rear the seals until they are well enough to be returned to the sea.


Skegness Boating Lake - - 15137
Skegness Boating Lake
  • To the south of the town is Gibraltar Point National Nature Reserve, on the northern limit of the Wash.
  • The Village Church Farm is a museum of agricultural life covering the 17th to 20th centuries.
  • The town is a centre for bowls.
  • Annual world's premier Meccano exhibition is staged in the Embassy Theatre, on the Grand Parade by the seafront and opened in September 1989.
  • Botton's Pleasure Beach, featuring roller coasters, mini merry-go-round (the Gallopers), dodgems and many traditional and modern rides as well as its annual end-of-season firework display.
  • The Pier Field, a recreational area which doubles as a car park, which made the news prominently after an announcement in 2014 that the district council was to consider selling it for the building of a Premier Inn hotel. This issue is still ongoing, with some local residents opposed to it.

Transport links


The A52 passes through the town from Boston to Mablethorpe. The A158 connects Lincoln to Skegness, and connects with the A16 to the north via the A1028. National Express operates direct (non-stop) daily coaches from East Midlands cities in the warmer months of the year. A 36-mile-long (58 km) Roman road passes between Lincoln and Skegness via Burgh le Marsh, initially following the A158, then to the north of the road, across the Lincolnshire Wolds.

Railway and bus

The railway station concourse and bus station

The town's railway and bus stations are next door to each other at the bottom of Richmond Drive in the town centre.

Stagecoach Lincolnshire is the main operator in the town with regular services operating up the coast as far as Mablethorpe; there are also regular services inland to both Boston and Lincoln.

Skegness railway station is the terminus for the Grantham to Skegness Line. Trains run the full length of this and the Nottingham to Grantham Line to give connections to the East Midlands. For the amount of traffic, the railway station is bigger than necessary with four long platforms. Each platform can accommodate a full HST. The main interconnecting line, the East Lincolnshire Railway, was dismantled from Firsby to Grimsby. Access from the north was discontinued from 1970.

The railway station is having a major renovation programme costing £290,000.

Rail connections to Skegness

Nottingham, Grantham, Boston and Sleaford have direct connections, while popular places such as Leicester, Derby and Kettering require a change at Nottingham. The track from Boston to Skegness, although once part of a busy longer-distance line, is not suited to large heavy trains, therefore line speeds are generally restricted to a maximum of 30 mph (for locomotive-hauled trains).

In 2009, East Midlands Trains introduced a direct service from Nottingham to Skegness, operated using an HST. This service was extended in 2010 as far as Derby.

Skegness Airfield

Fine beaches link the coastal towns, and there are large caravan parks in the surrounding countryside. Skegness Water Leisure Park, a short distance to the north of the town, near Ingoldmells, has its own airfield, with two runways. PPR (Prior Permission Required) is stated for landing.

G-BYOV at Skegness (Ingoldmells) Aerodrome - - 35503
Ingoldmells aerodrome

Pleasure flights used to operate from the original Skegness airfield which was located close to the current site of Butlin's. Vintage Austers were taking off and landing several times an hour in summer as holidaymakers sampled the joys of flying. At the time the shortest runway was just under 400 yards, making it challenging for less experienced pilots. Pilots from other airfields were sent to Skegness as part of their qualifying cross country.

International relations

Skegness has well-established twin town relations with Bad Gandersheim, a city in southern Lower Saxony, Germany, between Hannover and Kassel. Skegness Twinning Association has existed for more than 30 years, and the town plays host to its German visitors normally once every two years.

See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in Germany

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