Press Release

02 July 2014

Before package holidays and jetting off on an aeroplane became the typical family holiday, British families would visit Margate for their summer excursion.

In the 1950s and 60s, the Isle of Thanet was ‘the place’ to go to visit the beautiful sandy beaches, arcades and where you could have your photograph taken by the Sunbeam Photographic Company.

Sunbeam photograph
Sunbeam photograph

The South East Archive of Seaside (SEAS) Photography has now made it possible to revisit those fond seaside memories at its latest exhibition, Beyond the View: Reframing the Sunbeam Photographic Collection, at Canterbury Christ Church University’s Sidney Cooper Gallery.

For the past two years, SEAS Photography, led by Dr Karen Shepherdson, Principal Lecturer in Photography at Canterbury Christ Church University, has been working in partnership with Margate Museum, Thanet District Council and members of the public to conserve, digitally archive and share the significant and beautiful photographs produced by Sunbeam. The archive is based at the University’s Broadstairs Campus and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The exhibition will show more than 700 evocative images taken by Sunbeam and shall also include examples from internationally regarded photographers John Hinde and Tony Ray Jones who visited East Kent in the 1960s. In addition there will be many rare items on show associated with seaside photographic practice.

Sunbeam photograph
Sunbeam photograph

Dr Karen Shepherdson said: “For much of the 20th century the Sunbeam Photographic Company represented and reflected British culture. Sunbeam photographically documented on a vast scale life in the UK’s South East and specifically that of the coast.

“It is perhaps easy to regard such collections of commercial photography as ephemeral, yet the images within the archive and those to be shown at the summer exhibition are wonderfully worthy of reappraisal and reimagining.”

Importantly every Sunbeam image that members of the public have donated for digital scanning by the Archive will be included in the exhibition. SEAS Photography Archivist, Nigel Breadman said: “A major feature of the exhibition will be a wall-of-walkies, seaside photographs taken of people as they walked along the prom’ or sat on the beach.

“SEAS Photography has had in excess of 500 individual donated images and we have brought these together to celebrate life at the seaside. It is hoped that many visitors to the exhibition will spend time finding their own family within the exhibits.”  

In addition to the exhibition, there is also a two-day conference, 10th-11th July 2014, with Martin Parr as Patron to the South East Archive of Seaside Photography being the keynote speaker. There is also a publication accompanying the exhibition: Beyond the View: New Perspectives on Seaside Photography.

Notes to Editor


Watch Dr Karen Shepherdson talk about the exhibition here:

BEYOND THE VIEW: REFRAMING THE SUNBEAM PHOTOGRAPHIC COLLECTION July 11th -August 23rd 2014 at the Sidney Cooper Gallery, Canterbury.

Public Gallery Event:

Exhibition Talk & Tour with Director Dr Karen Shepherdson on July 19th 2014, 2pm

Two-day conference


Publication Launch: 


For images visit:

SEAS Photography website:


Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With nearly 20,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 94% of our most recent UK graduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
  • ·         We are the number one choice for local people looking to study at university in Kent (2013 UCAS).
  • ·         We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.

*2011/12 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey


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Last edited: 14/12/2018 22:16:00