Crimdon Dene is, and always has been, one of those places that could have been so much better if the right developer had ever put in the money and the imagination, It’s a singularly beautiful place; a deep, winding ravine threads like a serpentine snake through a landscape bathed in forty shades of electric green in the summertime. Wrought iron bridges vault nimbly over languid, splashing streams that run like arteries though a lush, deep green body of grass fields that are both picture and picnic perfect. Traffic can’t make it this far down; the absence of cars enhances the sense of tranquility no end here. Winding trails thread along the edges, all the way to the cliff tops that look out over a swathe of dusky blond sand that seems to stretch for miles in either direction. A sharp breeze hums in off that famously capricious North Sea; it’s serried ranks of steel grey rollers drum the sand every few seconds, leaving foam flecked bits of flotsam that the incoming tide later reclaims. With no natural impediment to the line of the horizon, it would be a fabulous spot to watch a summer sunrise. The banks above that beach are awash with saw grass and clumps of brackish heather. The view out over the vast expanse of ocean is nothing short of exhilarating. Sadly, today Crimdon is just the ghost of what it once was. In it’s heyday before and after the Second World War, it attracted holidaymakers and day trippers by the thousands in the summer months. Pageants and parades filled the weekends. Lido pools and ice cream parlours were everywhere. There was a small funfair that I remember vividly; our very own Disneyland by the sea. Crimdon Dene was, at one time, the second biggest caravan park anywhere in the United Kingdom. It is still a massive caravan park, but all the fun- and the crowds- are long since gone. I suspect much of it is down to the package holiday and that old bone of contention, the English weather. But there’s still something truly sad and melancholic about the way this beautiful, once bustling seaside playground has been allowed to wither and die over time. What the place really needs is an all weather resort; a kind of Butlins set up that would allow it to remain potentially viable even through the cruel winter months. It is not as if the potential has diminished. The road links are easy; there is a simple rail link at nearby Hartlepool- itself not short of a scenic attraction or two- and there is still no shortage of parking spaces. The infrastructure for a phased revival is in place. It always has been. The pictures in this story were taken in the last days of winter, 2012. The first whispers of spring were definitely in the air. You feel the cold in these shots, but there is something more to them. I think you also feel the first signs of life, starting to stir in the place again. A kind of subtle, wonderful undercurrent. And that’s how I think of this under used, fondly remembered, once bustling ghost of a resort. She’s a sleeping beauty; just waiting for the right person- and the right idea- to wake her from her coma; bring her back to life. I think whoever did it would be, as we say, quids in over the long run….