Jolly Fisherman out in the cold in new Skegness guide!

16 01 2010

A NEWLY published flagship visitor guide for the east coast has come under fire for failing to put Skegness in the picture. John Byford, a professional photographer and district councillor, is hot under the collar because the “Skegness and Mabelthorpe 2010” production from Lincolnshire Tourism has an uninspiring picture of a sandcastle on the front cover.

And The Jolly Fisherman isn’t even mentioned.

Coun Byford: “I was horrified when I saw the front cover. It certainly doesn’t sell Skegness at all.

“The sandcastle looks as though it’s made from play-pit sand and not beach sand. Skegness is one of the top five seaside holiday destinations in the country and we should be reflecting that.”

He claims the guide appears to feature stock pictures that could have been taken anywhere and few people are facing the camera.

Coun Byford said: “The Jolly Fisherman has been promoting this town for the last 100 years and he’s nowhere to be seen.”

The councillor has taken his complaint to the town centre manager and aims to raise it with the district council so Skegness can have a voice before any future publications go to print.

But at least one Skegness hotelier is delighted with the guide. Ash Tyrrell, of the Westdene Hotel in Trafalgar Avenue, emailed his congratulations through to Lincolnshire Tourism and complimented the organisation on the guide’s “strong, vivid photography”.

And Mr Tyrell told the Standard: “I think it is probably one of the best ones they have ever done.”

He believes the guide is a hit because it covers so many activities and therefore has “a wider reach” than previous issues.

Mr Tyrell said the ‘Skegness is so Bracing’ slogan had served the town well over many years but people could also miscontrue that as a claim that the town is freezing cold – so perhaps it could be left out of the town’s marketing.


A gift for Jolly

27 01 2009

The Jolly Fisherman was recently presented with a framed print in recognition of his commitment to the town of Skegness during the 2008 Birthday celebrations. The frame was supplied and paid for by ELDC, with images from John Byford (

You can download the poster free of charge (for private display only – NOT for re-sale DOWNLOAD

Photo below: 20×30 inch poster being presented to the Jolly Fisherman last week at the Town Hall.

Jolly Fisherman at Meadowhall – Sheffield

27 01 2009

SHOPPERS at the Meadowhall shopping centre, Sheffield, had a special visitor when the Jolly Fisherman spent a weekend promoting Skegness. Jolly, Skegness Myor Coun Neil Pimperton and Skegness town councillors joined staff from Butlins, Skegness, to advertise the town as a holiday destination. Coun Pimperton said: “Skegness has always been one of the great traditional British seaside resorts. All the old favourites are still here and still very popular, but so are modern attractions such as skateboarding, kite surfing, a seal sanctuary and nature centre, many large indoor venues and a fantastic night life.” They handed out copies of the Skegness holdiay guide which were eagerly taken by passing shoppers.

Photo: John Byford –

Plaque to honour John Hassall

19 12 2008

Plaque to honour John Hassall – creator of the Jolly Fisherman

Yes – a plaque to honour John Hassall has now been produced (and paid for) by the Town council.
[see article below published in the Skegness Standard back in 2007]

The plaque will be unveiled at the Railway Station in 2009. Full details to follow soon.

John Byford with the new plaque to honour John Hassall


A POSTHUMOUS honour has been suggested for Jolly Fisherman creator John Hassall to coincide with the mascot’s 100th birthday celebrations next year.

At Wednesday’s Skegness Town Council meeting John Byford asked the council not to forget the artist when discusssing the forthcoming celebrations.

In the public session he said: “It was John Hassall’s creation at the end of the day.

“He was given the freedom of the foreshore in 1936 when he visited the town, but since that date we all know his creation has been used a million and one times.

“In recognition of the artist’s work, I’m requesting the town council look at giving John Hassall a posthumous honour, possibly along with a plaque to coincide with next year’s events.”

[b]He suggested the plaque could be paid for with money the council receives when people pay to reproduce the Jolly Fisherman image[/b]

Source: Skegness standard.

Skegness and the Jolly Fisherman

24 07 2008

By Sophie Campbell

Well, you do wonder. What could have turned a middle-aged boatman with sagging wellies and a tobacco habit into the poster boy of a generation? Or, rather, generations?

When the artist John Hassall was commissioned to design a railway poster trumpeting the charms of Skegness in 1908, I doubt it would have occurred to him that his creation — a joyous, rotund fellow prancing along an unfeasibly yellow beach smoking his pipe, soon nicknamed the “Jolly Fisherman” — would be celebrating his centenary in 2008 with a letter from the Queen and a party (to which you are all invited) on July 27 in Skegness’s Tower Gardens.

Rooneys, Beckhams, Cruises — none of them could be more guarded about their party plans than the mayor of Skegness, Neil Pimperton. He shakes his head sternly when I ask if Jolly (“The Jolly Fisherman” is a bit clunky for modern marketing purposes) is going to leap out of a cake or lead a fish-a-thon in the Tower Gardens duck pond. Pimperton is a sweet man who — along with his wife and mayoress, Rita — is hugely proud of his chosen home town.

He is also far too polite to say “Stuff Boris Johnson” after the London Mayor unfavourably compared Skegness to the Med in his latest Daily Telegraph column.

Pimperton is originally from near Rotherham, which, along with Hull, Keighley, Sheffield and others, was one of the traditional industrial feeders for Skegness; locals still refer to the last week in July and the first week in August as “Miners’ Week”. He gives me that “I know you journalists” look and says that it’s going to be a big surprise.

We — the mayor, mayoress, district councillor and Jolly expert John Byford and I — are on the Jolly Trail, another birthday treat that opened six weeks ago and starts at Tower Gardens. All things lead to (or from) Tower Gardens in Skegness; they were there right from the beginning, when the Earl of Scarborough decided to develop his stretch of flat Lincolnshire coastline into a seaside resort.

Construction began on a neat grid in about 1870 and his land agent advertised plots, extolling the “clean, hard sands, salubrious climate and finest cricket ground in England”, among other things. The gardens occupied the former coal yards, which once stored Tyneside coal debouched from colliers on to the beach.

Today, the pretty little gatehouses have gone and some of the neighbouring Victorian houses burnt down last August. The firemen had to siphon the water out of both town swimming pools and the fish pond to stop the blaze; even so, an amusement arcade went up. Afterwards, singed two-pence pieces were seen circulating in the town.

Holidaymakers stare curiously from their benches as our delegation strolls past. We stop occasionally to ask if they are enjoying Skegness. As the mayor and mayoress are not wearing their chains, everyone looks slightly startled, but they all say yes, thank you. We perambulate past the graceful, station-style pavilion — maroon clapboard, cream bargeboarding — that might, they hope, become a tourist office, café and shop; the matching bandstand, built in the year 2000; and the pond, where an anxious crowd is watching the ducklings frantically trying not to be washed backwards over the cascade.

The trail is marked by large yellow footprints that are controversial, because they are Jolly-sized and deemed unsightly by some. They are also being worn away, because the town council used the wrong sort of paint, but there are wooden markers as well, with Jolly medallions set into them.

They could do with more signs explaining exactly what the Jolly Trail is: a leisurely way to learn about the town’s history, passing the Embassy Centre’s rather glamorous new outdoor pool, stalls selling woolly worms on sticks and castle-shaped buckets, food vans with candy-floss bags bouncing in the breeze and Tupperware tubs of ice-cream toppings. The highlight is the quarter-of-a-mile wide beach of hard, dark gold sand; it might not be buttercup-yellow, but it proudly flies a blue flag.

We pass the Jolly Fisherman fountain, a bronze statue dancing on a pile of rocks. “All sorts of things happen to him,” says John Byford, laughing. “We’ve found him with knickers on his head and his pipe gets broken — and look, someone’s put Fairy Liquid in the water again.” Sure enough, a million bubbles twinkle rainbows in the sun. A CCTV camera swivels impassively on a pole, relaying pictures to the police station.

In the background, two gardeners toil away at a vast flower bed, creating a replica of the Jolly poster. The trail ends at the Clock Tower, where the Pimpertons will share the platform with the singer Jane McDonald for the illuminations switch-on tonight.

The next big event is a John Hassall exhibition at the Town Hall in September, showing the evolution of the Jolly design as well as his other work. The posters are stored in the mayor’s parlour, ordered from a specialist printer and stacked in tissue paper. We admire the original, in gouache, which is worth £30,000. It is startlingly subdued in comparison with its bouncy poster incarnation; the colours are more subtle, the fisherman looks almost more apoplectic than joyous. The difference made by the words — a bold typeface, advertising three-shilling LNER (London & North Eastern Railways) day trips to the east coast, with the immortal line “Skegness is so bracing!” breezing over the picture itself — is extraordinary.

Other posters show that Skegness was originally pitched as a health resort — the Town Hall itself used to be a convalescent home and the Derby Miners’ Convalescent Home is still going — hence the “bracing” line.

The coming of the railway in 1873 brought a different type of visitor, who wanted to do what the Jolly Fisherman was doing: having a laugh on the beach, with blue sky and sun. I will draw a veil over the hilarious Viz parody, which I spotted through the tissue paper, because it caused my hosts such visible distress. John Byford is bravely insisting on putting it in the show.

So stuff Boris and the Med. I was last in Skegness about 10 years ago and I liked it then. Its message might have morphed discreetly from “bracing” to “drier” over the past century, but the place still has real charm — rather like its pop-eyed, buoyant, shamelessly optimistic public figure. Happy Birthday, Jolly.

The Jolly Fisherman travels from Skegness to Keighley

26 06 2008

The Jolly Fisherman

Photo of John Byford from Skegness with the unique plaque at Keighley Station.

More details of this event

Original manuscript of Jolly Fisherman found!

7 06 2008

IN honour of the Jolly Fisherman’s 100th birthday this year, we have been asking our readers to send us their Jolly memorabilia. Coun John Byford sent us a picture of the vellum, an orginal manuscript written on calf’s skin, presented to John Hassall in 1936 in recognition of his creation.

Coun Byford explained Mr Hassall was also awarded the freedom of the foreshore by Skegness Urban District Council, which entitled him to free use of things such as the cinema and deck chairs.

Coun Byford is going to Essex to pick up the original vellum so it can be displayed at the Skegness Civic Society’s Jolly Exhibition in September at Skegness Town Hall.

For more information / larger image please visit: Jolly’s website