Thursday, 24 June 2021

Author who likes to be beside the seaside...

A JOURNALIST from Sonning Common has published a book about the seaside.

A JOURNALIST from Sonning Common has published a book about the seaside.

Tom Fort has included some of his own memories from visiting resorts on the south coast as a child in Channel Shore: From The White Cliffs To Land’s End.

The book examines the 330 miles of coast along the English Channel, both the towns and the people who live by the sea.

Mr Fort, 63, of Wood Lane, said: “There is quite a bit about holidays and some of my own childhood experiences of visiting places like Bognor.

“Ten or so years ago it was said that seaside resorts were dying, places like Hastings or Brighton. The book looks at how particular seaside holidays resorts have got on.

“Some are struggling, some are doing okay and some are doing very well.

“Critics said they were finished about 25 years ago but the traditional seaside holiday is still going strong.” Mr Fort, a Sonning Common parish councillor who used to work for the BBC, has written six previous books.

These included one about the A303 in which he charted the history of the  92-mile road from Basingstoke to Honiton while travelling in a 1967 Morris Minor and was made into a TV documentary.

He put his seaside story idea forward as a BBC series but it was not commissioned, so he decided not to waste his work and wrote the book instead. He finished it almost exactly a year ago.

Mr Fort travelled along the south coast repeatedly for his research in 2013.

He said: “A lot of the time was spent speaking to people and talking about the seaside.

“There are lots of bits of history in the book and I spent time in fishing towns and looking at how the fishing boats are doing by speaking to fishermen. Some of the research was done in January and February to get an idea of the area in winter but a big block was done in June, July, August and September.”

The book contains about 100,000 words, making it the longest Mr Fort has written.

He said: “I wrote bits as I went along on trains getting to places and when I was in hotels or sat in corners of pubs. Then I stuck it all together.”

The book is illustrated with photographs by Sonning Common photographer Jason Hawkes.

Mr Fort said: “I am particularly happy with it. I really like the cover, it looks great.”

His next project is a book about village life in Britain and he plans to include some of his experiences as a parish councillor.

“It’s a long process,” said Mr Fort. “I will work on it over this summer, visiting villages all over the country. I will probably have to leave my village when it’s finished!”

l Channel Shore: From The White Cliffs To Land’s End is published by Simon & Schuster and costs £14.99.

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