Capturing the heyday of a popular holiday resort

Take a step back in time at Arbroath’s Signal Tower Museum as its latest exhibition recalls the heyday of the town as one of the country’s most popular holiday destinations.
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Seaside towns around Scotland have always been popular holiday destinations, and in 1965 alone Arbroath attracted more than 70,000 holidaymakers between June and September.

Visitors can currently enjoy its latest exhibition, called ‘Wish You Were Here’, which showcases artworks, images and objects from the collection on the theme of summer at the seaside.

As tourism grew and the eastern railway allowed access to the coast, people would travel to the quiet towns to escape the hustle of busy cities and enjoy the sea air. In 1935 Arbroath opened a new outdoor bathing pool, at the western entrance to the town beside the tennis courts and putting green. To attract tourists it was advertised as, “the finest filtered sea-water bathing pool in Scotland and was equipped to please all its patrons.” There were 800 lockers, 700 baskets and 123 cubicles. Around the pool there were tiers of teak wood seating which could accommodate over 5000 spectators.

The exhibition includes many archive photos, including of the bathing pool’s regular beauty contests. It will run at the Signal Tower Museum until October 31. (Angus Archives)The exhibition includes many archive photos, including of the bathing pool’s regular beauty contests. It will run at the Signal Tower Museum until October 31. (Angus Archives)
The exhibition includes many archive photos, including of the bathing pool’s regular beauty contests. It will run at the Signal Tower Museum until October 31. (Angus Archives)

The Arbroath Official Guide, 1965, stated: “When the weather was good, which was frequent, you only had to go through the railway underpass across from the caravan site and there was all the safety and freedom you could wish for, you had the beach, the model train, the fire engine, swings, slides, putting, tennis, paddling pool, swimming- everything for a holiday. If you felt more adventurous you could go boating…the children were infatuated with the water tower built like a castle.”

The exhibition includes a stunning prize-winning oil painting of the pool, created by Michael Cox in 1969, together with archive photographs. And if you were wondering what the fashion was, on display are two bathing costumes, one knitted and one which ensured the bather’s modesty by covering legs down to the knee.

The exhibition can be viewed Tuesday to Saturday 10am - 4pm, until October 31. Visitors can also take part in a postcard design competition which is available until the end of August.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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