Sea Front Shelter – Hastings

I have been here before, adoring the full range of Hasting’s sea front shelters.

They form an integral part of the general scheme designed and overseen by The Concrete King Sidney Little.

On my most recent visit the most distant shelter was receiving a wash and brush up, a brand new coat of paint or two, restored to bright red and white shipshape order, this land locked delight looked ready to set sail across the adjacent Channel to who knows where.

Offering a somewhat occluded view of blue skies and faraway shores, the bus stops here and goes on forever and forever.

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Pallot and Collins Murals – Bexhill on Sea

Could there be a more moderne town?

Bexhill on Sea, blessed with the delightful De La Warr Pavillion.

Plus the Pallot and Collins murals inset into the wall of their local branch of Sainsbury’s.

The third such public sculpture I have had the pleasure to visit following trips to Newcastle and the now defunct BHS in my hometown of Stockport.

Henry William Collins and Joyce Millicent Pallot have a very special place in my heart, their lives’ work together gracing the Festival of Britain, GPO Tower and Expo 70, along with other retail outlets in Southampton, Gloucester, and Colchester. A distinctive style of bas relief in impressed concrete, ceramic terrazzo and simple modern motifs, drawn from local history and imagery.

Take a look around.

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Margate – Tidal Pools

Margate a town of two pools.

The first tucked in by the prom, a moments walk from the station and overlooked by the imposing Arlington House and the shimmer of the Turner Contemporary

– alas no longer the domain of the wild swimmer.

A large delicious expanse of seawater, now sadly designated as a boating pond.

I was drawn magnetically to this elemental artifice, where untamed waters meet a controlled concrete geometry, waves temptingly lapping the walls.

Would that it could be open again to the town’s swimmers.

I am latterly reliably informed, that the pool is well used by local aquarists, despite the Local Authority’s prohibitions and ministrations – bravo!

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The second at Walpole Bay still open to the swimmer and what’s more it’s listed.

Walpole Bay Tidal Pool, one of two tidal pools designed by Margate’s borough engineer in 1937, constructed in concrete blocks reinforced by reused iron tram rails, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Structural engineering interest: an ambitious project because of its scale, the weight of each concrete block, and that work needing to be carried out day and night because of the tides; * Scale and design: impressive in scale and shape, occupying 4 acres and three sides of a rectangle, the sides 450 feet long diminishing towards the seaward end which was 300 feet long; * Social historical interest: provided an improvement to sea bathing at the period of the greatest popularity of the English seaside; * Degree of intactness: intact apart from the loss of the two diving boards which do not often survive; * Group value: situated quite near the remains of the 1824-6 Clifton Baths (Grade II), an 1935 lift and the other 1937 tidal pool. 

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Pleasureland

“But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.”

Umberto Eco

Somewhere between Las Vegas Nevada and Casablanca Morocco lies Southport.

Somewhere in Southport lies Pleasureland.

Separated by oceans and oceans of artifice.

A puzzle wrapped in a riddle, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in a wind blown fish and chip paper, tipped lazily onto the edge of Lancashire.

The seaside itself an invention of the railways, and an expanding leisured class.

To begin in the middle, the Hollywood cinema creates an Orientalist mythology around Morocco. A confection of exotic confinement, conspiratorial glances and romance.

Who are you really, and what were you before?

What did you do and what did you think, huh? 

We said no questions. 

Here’s looking at you, kid.

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Which in turn becomes parody of itself, constructing an airport that apes its own constructed image, a brash reflection in an eternally wonky mirage of a mirror.

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The same mirror that reflects across the Atlantic, to that cap it all capital of Kitsch.

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A veritable smorgasbord of visual treats and retreats in Mesquite Nevada.

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Or the Casablanca Ballroom Westin Lake Hotel – Las Vegas.

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Flying home to the Warner Brothers Stage 16 Restaurant

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Or indeed Southport.

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2011 – I had my first close up and personal encounter with the wood frame, chicken wire and faux adobe render rendering of North Africa, on the coast of North West England. It was in a state of semi-advanced neglect, an extraordinary experience. Pleasureland had already faked it’s own demise, a pre-boarded up, boarded up frontier town.

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Where the edges of meaning are blurred beyond belief, take care.

We are dealing with uneven surfaces.

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Who could resist a Moroccan themed crazy golf course?

You are now entering a Scoobidoo-esque scenario, where the mask is never finally removed, nothing is revealed.

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2016 – I returned, the world had turned a revival was in part taking place, some of the pleasure returned to Pleasureland, whilst the seafront facing bars remained empty.

One man holds the key the glue, that bonds these distant lands.

The myth to end all myths.

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For he is forever in his own orbit, omniscient.

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Make the world go away
And get it off my shoulders
Say the things you used to say
And make the world go away

Pegwell Bay Hoverport

Once, for a very, very  long time indeed there was a shoreline, then sure enough, eventually there was a Hoverport – then there wasn’t.

Opened in 1969 just outside Ramsgate along the Kent coast, Hoverlloyd a Swedish owned company began a cross-channel hovercraft service to Calais.

Along came Prince Philip:

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Can came:

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And went:

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The passengers’ every need was attended to with alacrity and style.

“As a Stewardess your appearance was paramount, a beautician would come in during training to teach us how to apply make up.”

 

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But it simply wasn’t enough.

The life of Christopher Cockerell’s bold British invention, was short and bumpy.

Genevieve Payne, a former stewardess:

“I remember the summer of 1979 as a year of really bad weather and rough seas.”

“I was working on a craft in a force 8, so on this day we were literally hitting the ceiling, passengers were throwing up everywhere.”

“One lady became hysterical I had to slap her to calm her down.”

By the 1980’s Pegwell and the hovercraft were in terminal terminus decline.

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It’s a lot less bother without a hover.

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What prevails is the shoreline, a concrete landing skirt and the slow process of reclamation, as nature decides that the council is quite right to decide to create a nature reserve.

Thanks to and for further information http://www.hoverlloyd.org/index.html

Here it is today:

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Hastings – Arthur Green’s

Facing happily out to sea, hard by Hastings promenade, sits Arthur Green’s, former menswear shop of some considerable distinction. Currently operating as an antiques centre, the whole of the perfectly preserved, period interior is now listed by English Heritage.

A mosaic porch and glass lined vestibule, invite you into a palace of dark hardwood fittings, capacious drawers, glass fronted cabinets, and an ornately carved cashiers booth, all topped off and lit by crystal chandeliers.

Few such example still exist intact, their contents usually ripped out, ripped off and reinstalled in chi-chi overpriced, cosmopolitan boutiques – suits you sir?

I think not!

My thanks to the helpful and patient staff who informed and facilitated my mooching.

Take a walk along the front – pop in.

Margate – Batchelor’s Patisserie

Idly meandering through Cliftonville, along Northdown Road, I chanced upon the most delightful of cake shop windows. Being something of an aficionado of cakes, shops and windows it seemed like an ideal opportunity to snap away, with customary broad-smiling, wide-eyed enthusiasm. Furthermore why not go in? I was met with the most charming of receptions from the patron Stuart Turner and staff – not unreasonably inquisitive regarding my impromptu picture taking, I explained my particular interest in the patisserie. The interior of the 50’s bakery, shop and café is perfectly preserved, with a little sympathetic restorative work. Well upholstered and formica topped the furniture is the finest of its kind, each table graced with fresh flowers, condiments and loving care and attention. An exquisite array of breads, pastries and cakes, resting on delicate doilies, displayed in glass fronted cases. I encourage you to visit, take tea, take cake, take away the fondest of sweet memories.

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