The Jolly Fisherman

The Jolly Fisherman is a poster created by artist John Hassall in 1908 after he had been commissioned by the Great Northern Railway (GNR).[1] It is regarded as one of the most famous holiday advertisements of all time and is believed to have influenced the success of Skegness, Lincolnshire as a holiday destination.[2] Hassall was paid 12 Guineas for his work, and the original painting hangs in the town hall at Skegness.[3]

"Skegness is So Bracing" (1908) by John Hassall

The poster depicts a fisherman skipping along the beach, with the slogan "Skegness is SO bracing". There are different versions of the poster, however, the fisherman and the slogan are always part of the design; one such later design, promoted by the LNER,[note 1] showed the same fishermen design being tugged along the beach by a toddler hanging onto his scarf.[5] John Hassall visited Skegness in 1936, and was quoted as saying "[that Skegness] was even more bracing and attractive than I had been led to expect."[6]

He is now the mascot for Skegness and celebrated his 100th birthday in 2008, and author, Bill Bryson, put the image on the front cover of his 2015 book, "The Road to Little Dribbling".[7] However, the publishers assumed that the image was in the public domain, and so did not obtain permission from the copyright holders, Skegness Town Council.[3] In 2015, the campaign group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), wrote to the town council suggesting that the image of the fisherman be dropped in favour of one showing a flatfish, with the tagline of "A happy plaice". PETA said that the mascot "evokes images of cruelty to animals".[8]

"The Jolly Fisherman" is also the name of places located in Lincolnshire, such as a restaurant, a resort, among others.[9]

Statue of the Jolly Fisherman in Compass Gardens, Skegness


  1. The Great Northern Railway was subsumed into the LNER in 1923 as part of the Grouping process.[4]


  1. Johnson, Jamie (3 March 2020). "Skegness Jolly Fisherman mascot facing axe amid budget cuts and health and safety rules". The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  2. Wood, Alexandra (28 July 2015). "Animal rights activists want Skegness to ditch famous poster for a fish drawing". The Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  3. Flood, Alison (8 January 2016). "Bill Bryson's 'tribute' to Jolly Fisherman makes waves in seaside town". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  4. Le Vay, Benedict (2009). Britain from the rails : a window gazer's guide. Chalfont St. Peter: Bradt Travel Guides. p. 101. ISBN 978-1-84162-277-4.
  5. Cole, Beverley; Durack, Richard (1992). Railway posters 1923-1947 : from the collection of the National Railway Museum, York. London: Laurance King. p. 149. ISBN 1856690148.
  6. "Original Jolly Fisherman painting to feature on BBC TV". BBC News. 23 June 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  7. Johnston, Neil (4 March 2020). "Skegness is bracing for loss of Jolly Fisherman mascot". The Times. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  8. "Skegness mascot Jolly Fisherman 'should be replaced by fish'". BBC News. 29 July 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  9. "New £250k nautical themed pub opens in Skegness". The Skegness Standard. 12 February 2019. Retrieved 29 October 2020.