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Postcards from Skipsea

Imagined landscapes and

speculative futures in a

village on the Yorkshire coast

Not much of any significance ever seems to have happened here. No famous person has been born, lived, or done anything here. In essence, it is ordinary, no different from countless other villages scattered across the face of England. Yet, at the same time, it is unique, a product of local conditions and forces, of a ceaseless interaction between people and their environment.

—Stephen Harrison in Sands of Time, a History of Skipsea

 Skipsea, Skip-sea, skip saer: the lake on which a ship could sail.

—words in Old Scandinavian

The lake to which Skipsea refers was a harbour for Viking ships. It has long eroded into the sea. In November 2000, after a bout of heavy rainfall and flooding, it reappeared as if a mirage.

Introduction

On the 17th of January, 2017, a news article appeared on the Daily Mail website with the sensational title “Our gardens fell down a cliff!” The article was about Skipsea village in Holderness, a stretch of the East Riding Yorkshire coast where the coastline erodes away by a meter or so each year. During that weekend in January, a tidal surge brought on by high tides and gale force wind took that meter at one go, gnawing off chunks of the gardens on Green Lane, a street of bungalows and caravans perched on the cliff edge (Moore 2017).