This description may equally be applied to a comparison of Rhyl, Llandudno and, to a lesser extent, Colwyn Bay. Cannadine has put forward the hypothesis that the elegance of the resort depended to a large extent on the dominant landowner, whilst Beckett suggests that the more significant criterion was whether the land was sold on a freehold or leasehold basis.10 Both these hypotheses may be inter-related. There was a tradition of the elites being involved in the construction of aesthetically pleasing towns before the development of seaside resorts. Royal Tunbridge Wells, for example, owed much of its elegance to the Abergavenny family" and Buxton to the Cavendish family.12 It was almost inevitable therefore, that when the opportunity and the potential for prestigious or profitable development along the coast became evident, some of the landowning grandees should become involved in the design and building of seaside resorts. In some cases the landowners played a prominent and direct role in developing handsome resorts. For example, the Devonshires were involved in the contruction of Eastbourne,13 and the Hesketh and Scarisbrick families played a more indirect role in the development of Southport.14 Asa Briggs infers that the railways were responsible for the creation of the popular seaside resort.15 Perkin concurs.16 However, this over-simplifies the argument, though the exponential growth of Blackpool, Colwyn Bay, and Llandudno would not have been achieved without this relatively cheap means of transportation. There were, on the other hand, a number of instances where a substantial tourist trade existed before the railways were constructed and, conversely, there were cases of landowning elites constraining development for decades after the railway system had linked a particular resort to the remainder of Britain.17 Table 1 shows the population growth of the resorts along the Lancashire and north Wales coasts. J. K. Walton has ranked 145 resorts by size from 9 D. Cannadine, Lords and Landlords: the Aristocracy and the Towns, 1774-1967 (Leicester, 1980). pp. 229-370. 10 J. V. Beckett, The Aristocracy in England, 1660-1914 (London, 1986), pp. 280-86. 11 Ibid., p. 63. 12 R. G. Heape, Buxton Under the Dukes of Devonshire (London, 1948), pp. 28-30, 35. 13 J. K. Walton, The English Seaside Resort: a Social History (Leicester, 1983), pp. 117-18. 14 J. Liddle, op. cit., p. 142. 15 A. Briggs, A Social History of England (London, 1983), p. 214. 16 H. Perkin, The Structured Crowd (Sussex, 1981), p. 72. 17 D. Cannadine, op. cit., p. 269, 'population [in resorts] surged dramatically in the decade following the railway'. On the other hand, see A. Fletcher, 'Social and Economic Changes in the Vale of Clwyd dunng the Railway Era' (unpublished M.Phil thesis, University of Wales, 1991), p. 189 'the economic forces that were operating elsewhere in the land could be held at bay for some decades, providing the landowners had sufficient influence to stem the tide of change'.