Hastings 2015

I had completed my journey from Weston super Mare, with a final day’s cycle ride from Eastbourne and had two days to spare.

So I took some time to have a mooch around and this dear readers is what I did see.

I have snapped the seafront shelters previously and put together one post after another.

These are an integral part of Sidney Little’s concrete promenade scheme

Lurched toward London Road Launderette in St Leonards – which was featured in my 2020 book eight laundrettes.

Next door is this Post Office mosaic.

Back to the front for a more traditional seaside shelter.

Exploring the backstreets in search of fitness for purpose and secret signs.

Then diving in for a delicious dosa at the long gone St Len’s Lakshmi Mahal – since moved to Bexhill on Sea.

Snapping the plaques at the White Rock Theatre.

Currently closed but hopefully open in time for the We Love The Spice Girls.

Popped into Arthur Green – former gent’s outfitters, current bric a brac brokers.

Before we know it, we’re in another laundrette, once more without washing in the Wash Inn.

Back along the front to the well appointed and freshly painted Marine Court.

Time to pop into the not always open subsequently closed St Leonard’s Church.

When World War II broke out, Hastings and St Leonards-on-Sea were considered vulnerable to attacks and invasion from abroad. On the night of Saturday 29 July 1944 a doodlebug was hit over the English Channel. Damaged, it nevertheless continued to fly towards the coastline of St Leonards-on-Sea. It was approaching Marine Court which was hosting a servicemen’s party – but it veered and crashed in front of the doors of St Leonard’s Church, making a deep crater. The tower fell into this, and the rest of the church was brought down as well. Although there were no casualties, the church was completely destroyed. Although the problem of rock falls and subsidence associated with the cliffs had continued throughout the life of the church, the War Damage Commission would only pay for it to be rebuilt on the same site. The architectural partnership of brothers Giles and Adrian Gilbert Scott were commissioned to design the new building.

Patrick Reyntiens stained glass

The unique features were inspired by Canon Cuthbert Griffiths, rector from 1929 to 1961. Following a dream, he went to Israel and had the prow of a Galilean fishing boat constructed to form the pulpit.

Marble work on the floor depicts locally caught skate and herring.

Beyond the communion rail are loaves and fishes set in different marble patterns bordered by scallop shells, a copy of the Byzantine mosaic in the Church of the Feeding of the Five Thousand in Galilee.

The structure set into shifting cliffs is subject to subsidence.

Procedures have been completed for St Leonard’s Parish Church on Marina to be closed for worship. 

The service will be next Saturday August 4 2018 at 3pm. 

Because the building cannot be used the service will be at St Ethelburga’s in St Saviour’s Road.

St Leonard’s has been called the church with an inbuilt message.  Even the very stones cry out to those who have eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand and accept the Good News of the Gospel.

St Leonards Church

Dartmouth to Exmouth

Wake up Steve put the mini-kettle on!

Get down for breakfast – I personally regret the untimely passing of fried bread and the appearance of the so-called hash brown.

Originally, the full name of the dish was hashed brown potatoes or hashed browned potatoes, of which the first known mention is by American food author Maria Parloa in her 1887 Kitchen Companion, where she describes the dish of hashed and browned potatoes as a fried mixture of cold boiled potatoes which is folded like an omelet before serving.

Years later we got them.

Thursday 30th July 2015 and the sun is a shining brightly on the Dart.

Get on the ferry!

We’re off again.

The Monkey Puzzle tree Araucaria araucana is one of the oldest trees in the business – of being a tree.

It is native to central and southern Chile, western Argentina, and a welcome visitor to the English Riviera.

The hardiest species in the conifer genus. Because of the prevalence of similar species in ancient prehistory, it is sometimes called a living fossil.

The refined white rectilinear box shaped houses of the genus Seaside Moderne, are an offspring of the International Style, to be found all over the globe.

The sea covers seventy percent and rising, of our planet.

Seaside shelters are ubiquitous along our coast and form a typology determined by a rich variety of wild and wonderful Municipal tastes – flat, broke, baroque, modern and functionalist, hardly two the same.

Electricity is a popular power source both locally, nationally and internationally.

Model villages originated in seventh century China, there is only one way around a model village.

This one is in Babbacombe.

Time for a 99 – quick it’s melting Steve!

This Georgian Court is situated just outside Torquay, a restrained Neo Classical/Deco brick and render apartment block – the couple I chatted to, very kindly offered to show me around the place.

Ghost signs have the habit of disappearing all over the place.

So to shops of all shapes and sizes.

Whilst others prevail.

Including this arcane example in Exmouth – The Wool Shop.

Laundrettes may be on the way out but this gallant knight of the road continues to record them, both online and in print.

Here in Teignmouth a pier appears not uncommon on certain parts of the coast.

Teignmouth Grand Pier is a great day out for family and friends. There’s something for everyone – from big kids to little ones – it offers you all the traditional attractions and entertainment in the Great British spirit of the seaside.

Time to get on the ferry again Steve – crossing the Exe Estuary on the Starcross to Exmouth Ferry.

Bikes carried for a small additional charge.

No time for Bingo, reading the local paper or the amusements – time for a pint, in the form of two halves.

Then a wander back to the digs – see you all tomorrow.

Night night

Ilfracombe to Okehampton

Today Monday 27th July 2015 – leaving Ilfracombe the royal we head south along the Tarka Trail, giving Cornwall a swerve.

Though first we feast on a slightly out of focus fry up at the digs.

Inspired by the route travelled by Tarka the Otter, this 180 mile, figure eight route traverses unspoiled countryside, dramatic sea cliffs and beautiful beaches. The southern loop incorporates the longest, continuous off-road cycle path in the UK. Walking or cycling, you can experience the best this beautiful area has to offer.

Though first a little look at Ilfracombe.

Looks to me like local Marland Brick

Then away we go following the former train line out of town.

The Ilfracombe Branch of the London & South Western Railway, ran between Barnstaple and Ilfracombe. The branch opened as a single-track line in 1874, but was sufficiently popular that it needed to be upgraded to double-track in 1889.

The 1:36 gradient between Ilfracombe and Mortehoe stations was one of the steepest sections of double track railway line in the country. In the days of steam traction, it was often necessary to double-head departing passenger trains.

Named trains such as the Atlantic Coast Express and the Devon Belle both started and terminated at Ilfracombe.

Despite nearly a century of bringing much-needed revenue into this remote corner of the county, passenger numbers dropped dramatically in the years following the Second World War, due to a massive increase in the number of cars on Britain’s roads, and the line finally closed in 1970.

Much of the course of the line is still visible today, and sections of it have been converted into public cycleways.

Wikipedia

A delightfully decorated prefabricated concrete railway hut.

Huts old railway huts, council take ’em and they cover them in colouring book Constructivism.

Eventually I find myself outside an inter war Modernist Masonic Hall in Braunton.

Dozens of Devon councillors are also Freemasons – is yours?

Conservative Cllr for Topsham Andrew Leadbetter is a well-known Mason.

Devon Live

We leave behind – the shadowy world of secret handshakes, favours for friends and strange initiation ceremonies.

For the equally shadowy world of military installations.

The water tower at RAF Chivenor.

Originally a civil airfield opened in the 1930s, the site was taken over by the Royal Air Force in May 1940 for use as a Coastal Command Station. After World War II, the station was largely used for training, particularly weapons training.

In 1974 the station was left on care and maintenance, in 1994 7 FTS left Chivenor, merging with No. 4 Flying Training School RAF at RAF Valley, and the airfield was handed over to the Royal Marines.

Wikipedia

A most delightful cycle path alongside the estuary of the River Taw.

The River Taw rises high on the slopes of Dartmoor and together with its tributaries, the River Mole, Yeo and little Dart, runs north through beautiful rolling countryside down to Barnstaple and into the Bristol Channel.

Passing under the Torridge Bridge at Bideford – a 650 metre long concrete structure built in 1987.

Photo James Ravilious

Three piers are in the river. Each of the piers in the water is protected by concrete fenders twenty four metres long by eight metres wide by eight metres high. The concrete piers of the bridge are around twenty four metres high.

It was designed by MRM Partnership.

Here we are in Barnstaple by the Civic Centre.

It’s described as an ‘iconic’ building, but not many locals would agree, this huge building widely considered to be one of the ugliest in Devon could soon be under new ownership. The council has confirmed that following a tender exercise, it is working with a preferred bidder to finalise the details of the sale.

Devon Live

In 2014 Barnstaple based Peregrine Mears Architects believed the civic centre could provide up to 84 modern apartments.

Artist’s impression by Peregrine Mears Architects – looks a little too wobbly to me, Peregrine Mears Architects should get right back to the drawing board, where they started from.

The Neo-Classical facade restrained Deco of The Venue.

Formerly The Regal Cinema – opened on 30th August 1937

Architects – BM Orphoot

Revellers dancing at The Worx nightclub – as The Venue was to become.

The building in Barnstaple is for sale with Webbers estate agents for just £225,000. The striking building in a prime position on the town’s Strand was originally opened in 1937 as the Regal Cinema.

The building will probably be best known under the guise of Kaos, the name it was given during the 1990’s and at the height of its popularity.

Other nightclub incarnations at the premises included Babylon, Rockabillies, Coco, Club Tropicana and of course The Venue.

Devon Live 2019

The Tarka Trail crossing the River Torridge, just south of Bideford, utilising the former railway bridge.

The old home town looks the same as I step down from the bike, and there to meet me is – well nobody.

And I realise, yes, I was only dreaming.

I’ll go to Okehampon then – take a look at the lovely tiled Post Office, whilst completely ignoring one of the oldest Norman castles in the country.

Walking around town in search of a B&B proved fruitless, though I was directed to an out of town Roadhouse aways away.

Welcome to Betty Cottles Inn – land of the lost apostrophe.

Rooms are not as photos/described on hotel booking sites, wi-fi hardly ever works. I prepaid/booked for nine nights, I checked out after two days. Needless to say I didnt receive a seven day refund. Owner with attitude problem, he had my money, and was not keen on helping with my concerns about the property. Musky smell to carpet in bar and restaurant areas. Not been cleaned for a long time. Rooms unsafe and not private, with curtains not long enough, lock on room doors inadequate.

Neil H – July 2109

You sneaked in a female into your single room without paying for her and got caught so obviously you have retaliated by way of a negative review. You were probably the most rude and hostile guest we have ever had and have had to report you to booking.com for guest misconduct and also banned you from being able to book here again.

Matthew owner at Betty Cottles Inn

I ate a reasonable meal in the Carvery and chatted amiably with a representative salesman on the move, whilst seeing off a few pints of Guinness – any port in a storm.

Night night.

Weston super Mare

Although there is evidence in the local area of occupation since the Iron Age, it was still a small village until the 19th century when it became a seaside resort, and was connected with local towns and cities by a railway, and two piers were built. The growth continued until the second half of the 20th century, when tourism declined and some local industries closed. A regeneration programme is being undertaken with attractions including the Helicopter Museum, Weston Museum, and the Grand Pier. The Paddle Steamer Waverley and MV Balmoral offer day sea trips from Knightstone Island to various destinations along the Bristol Channel and Severn Estuary. Cultural venues include The Playhouse, the Winter Gardens and the Blakehay Theatre.

Wikipedia

I arrived mid-morning on Saturday 25th July 2015 – having travelled some two hundred miles or so from Stockport by train.

The Iron Age seemed to be over and regeneration slowly but surely under way.

This marked the start of another coastal tour, following last year’s epic which began in Hastings.

This time I was heading for Hastings – but that can wait until tomorrow, let’s have a look around town.

Directly opposite the station is a group of Seaside Moderne homes in various states of whiteness – standing in line along Neva Road.

Reasonably priced, cheaper than Frinton – check it out

I pushed my bike along the prom heading for my pre-booked digs in a stylish seafront hotel.

Past the Marine Causeway linking the shore to some kind of modern day Post Modern Shangri-La.

A mystical, harmonious valley, gently guided from a lamasery, enclosed in the western end of the Kunlun Mountains, possibly not.

You can stroll onto Knightstone Island, where you will find some cafes serving light snacks and refreshments, or to the other side which takes you along the causeway, accessible to walk across according to the tides. At the other side of the Causeway you will find a small rocky beach with tidal rockpools ideal for exploring.

Just along the prom stands one of my all time favourite seaside shelters.

Even further along – what’s all this here then?

The foundation stone of the Birch-designed Birnbeck Pier was laid in 1864. It opened on 5th June 1867 and consisted of a 1040 foot cantilever construction to Birnbeck Island and a short jetty extending westwards from the island.

National Piers Society

It seems to have changed hands several times in its relatively short life, including the stewardship of the infamous Urban Splash and the mysterious mystery owners, the current custodians it seems, have done little to secure a secure future.

It remains alone and untended, stretching aimlessly out to sea.

In April 2015, Friends Of The Old Pier Society created a novel fund raising scheme in which 1p and 2p coins would be lined up to stretch from the Grand Pier to Birnbeck Pier.

September 2019 Councillor Mr Crockford-Hawley said:

It’s this end of Weston which is the sore, it’s the carbuncle, it’s clearly well past its prime and it needs some serious attention. I mean it would be wonderful if somebody came along with an open ended bank account and said ‘yup, I’d love to restore it for the sake of restoring it’, but quite clearly there’s got to be an economic future for the pier, there’s got to be a purpose for the pier.

Possibly a wealthy Beatle could bail the ailing pier out of deep water?

Having made a bob or two since they appeared here in 1963.

Next thing I know I’m outside the imposing and impressive sounding Ocean Hotel. Sad to say on the day/night of my visit it wasn’t just this weary traveller that appeared to be over tired, happy to report the the New Ocean Hotel has been revamped and in tip-top condition by all accounts.

Any road up, let’s get out, take a walk up the road – have look at some local type.

Watney’s mythical Red Barrel.

Watney’s was the Evil Corporation which sought to crush plucky small brewers and impose its own terrible beer on the drinking public. It acquired and closed beloved local breweries, and it closed pubs, or ruined them with clumsy makeovers.

Its Red Barrel was particularly vile – a symbol of all that was wrong with industrial brewing and national brands pushed through cynical marketing campaigns.

A page-spread from Design Research Unit 1945-1972 – Koenig Books 2011 via A Practice for Everyday Life via Boak and Bailey – who examine the truth behind the myth.

A palimpsest ghost within a ghost.

A seaside outing for dear old Brush Script – a casual connecting script typeface designed in 1942 by Robert E. Smith for the American Type Founders.

The face exhibits an exuberant graphic stroke emulating the look of handwritten written letters with an ink brush.

It came third as a Least Favorite nomination in a 2007 designers’ survey.

It was rated fifth in The Eight Worst Fonts In The World list in Simon Garfield’s 2010 book Just My Type.

Why have just one identity when you can have two, welcome to the 21st Century schizoid Savoy – don’t it jus’ make you want to stomp?

First but surely not the last sighting of Profil aka Stymie Bold Italic – in a none inline variant.

Classical kerning down at the local estate agents, tasteful Gill Condensed Bold – from the hand and eye of the far from tasteful Eric.

Ay up it’s a launderette that almost thinks it’s a scooter!

Cheap beer, raffle, singer and bingo on a Wednesday afternoon.

Amazing and great atmosphere with friendly service staff and atmosphere, love it, real nice people

Facebook

Russell Davies Flickr

Keeler Productions has taken over Locking Road Car Park, opposite Tesco, and The Regent Restaurant, in Regent Street, to film a BBC period series The Trial of Christine Keeler, based on the Profumo Affair in the 1960s.

Weston Mercury

Enough of all that period drama, let’s have a look at some period architecture.

Madeira Court – 67 flats built in 1988.

Weekly Social Activities include – coffee mornings, card evenings and occasional days out, organised by social club. New residents accepted from sixty years of age, both cats and dogs generally accepted.

I can find no reference for this dalle de verre stained glass window.

Boulevard United Reformed Church – Waterloo Street

Architects Gordon W. Jackson and Partners 1959

Constructed on part of the site of the former Electric Premier Cinema, the Odeon Theatre was opened on 25th May 1935 with Jack Buchanan in Brewster’s Millions. Built as one of the original Odeon Theatres in the then emerging Oscar Deutsch Odeon Theatres circuit, it was built on a prime corner street position in this sea-side town and was the first of several Odeon Theatre’s to be designed by architect Cecil T Howitt.

The Odeon was Grade II Listed on 21st August 1986.

Cinema Treasures

The Weston-super-Mare Odeon was built by C Bryant & Son Ltd of Birmingham on the site of the former Electric Premier Cinema. It opened on 25 May 1935, at which time it was described in the souvenir programme as ‘modernity at its best’, with seating accommodation that was ‘luxurious and spaced to give ample room for true comfort’.

A short walk along the prom snapping shelters and the sheltered – no two the same.

I then chanced to fall into a Beer Festival and bad company – the rest is a blur, see you all tomorrow there’s some cycling to be done.

Night night.

eight laundrettes

It began on an aimless walk out of Wigan on through Frimley, I found heaven on earth in the warm enfolding arms of the Washeteria. A perfectly preserved fascia, interior and machines, more by diffident neglect than good management. Signature wood effect and patterned Formica panelling, over earnest signs demanding the highest standards of personal conduct, etched in thick discoloured coloured plastic, abound on every surface. Stuttering strip lighting and a stone cold linoleum floor. A dull white ceiling, with a surface texture formed from deep frozen ennui.

Three years later I had visited and snapped several examples, all with their own uniques characteristics though all contributing to a typology. 

In the United Kingdom known as launderettes or laundrettes, and in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand as laundromatsor washeterias.

George Edward Penury created the word laundromat for Westinghouse. 

According to NALI – the National Association of the Launderette industry, numbers peaked at12,500 in the early 80s but have since dwindled to just 3,000. 

The first UK launderette – alternative spelling: laundrette. was opened on May 9th 1949 in Queensway London.

Come with me now and relive those warm damp languorous moments as we visit eight laundrettes.

All the books sold out in three hours – so here’s your chance to flick through the virtual pages as the prewash finishes.

Suds Laundrette – Levenshulme

We have entered a new age – the age of the A6 based computer generated A4 Blu-Tack attached laminated print out.

An informal typography for the age of informality – long gone the etched plastic, hand rendered fascia days of yore.

This is now one of many launderama dramas – my sole intent to record the state of the nation’s dirty washing.

There is even to be a book published this March.

So one more for the road – load up the Loadstar with washers and slugs, let’s all get dry, one way or another.

Launderette – Hull

Whilst walking down Beverley Road I caught sight of of you out of the corner of my eye – my left eye.

My beautiful laundrette:

In this damn country, which we hate and love, you can get anything you want, it’s all spread out and available.

That’s why I believe in England.

Set back slightly from the road and the rest of the world.

Queens Road a street with an incident packed street view.

Without hesitation I entered the world of washing, soap and suds, signs and surfaces.

Dirty linen has never been so public.

The Wash Tub Levenshulme – Manchester

When is a washtub not a washtub – self evidently when it doesn’t wash.

This is the land of the decommissioned washer – cash box removed, unrepurposed, demure and decorative yet sadly redundant.

This is a dry only facility its surfaces inert, frozen in time, its sign declaiming pointless imperatives to nobody in particular.

Worn lino, prosaic mosaic, strip lighting, wood-grained Formica, black wooden benches backed up against the warmth of the warm drier – time becomes elastic, limitless.

Enter at your own peril, Persil in hand prepare to be disappointed.

Launderette – Levenshulme

14 Matthews Lane Manchester M19 3DS

It’s been quite a while – following a spate there has been an abatement.

Time was I couldn’t pass a coin-op operation without snapping.

It all began in a Wigan Washeteria one thing lead to another then another.

I was all washed up, rinsed and spun out – I had to call it a day.

Yesterday things changed – I turned a corner in life when I turned the corner into Matthews Road, the familiar aroma, signs and things signified came flooding right back – time stood still beneath a strip light lit suspended ceiling.

Laundrette – Welshpool

When walking the streets of Welshpool, one often finds oneself outside.

Outside a launderette.

I paused.

The porch was decorated by the most enchanting mosaic, Vickery and Co.

Hosiers, Hatters and Outfitters.

Politely, ever so politely, I asked the two local lads if they would step aside from their porch perch one moment, I snapped.

And walked on.

Upon my return, nobody was here, I hurriedly occupied the vacant space, with the expansive volume of my incurable curiosity.

Here is what I found.

P1050847 copy

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Laundrette – Emlyn West Wales

You could be in the middle of nowhere.

You are in the middle of nowhere.

Though never six feet from a rat, or a mile from a main road.

Moments away from a laundrette.

Imagine my amazement, on arrival in a town straddling the border of the counties of Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire in west Wales and lying on the River Teffi.

A launderette.

The heady of mix of interior austerity.

Functionally muted green, grey sky blue, nothing added.

An all too distinctive aroma of who knows what – warm water, soap and humanity?

Wash your dirty linen in public.

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Best Launderette – Brunswick Street Manchester

I was out walking on the corner one day.

I spied some old washing.

In the doorway it lay.

Well there was a doorway, but no door.

There was a door, but not attached to the doorway.

Well there was washing, I had inadvertently found the Best Laundrette.

Unattended, seemingly unloved, washing spinning happily, unobserved.

Guantanamo orange walls, stormy petrol blue sky linoleum floor.

Lit by several stark, bare fluorescent tubes.

I quickly went about my business, made my excuses to myself and left.

 

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The Wash Inn – Hastings

Standing alone in an unattended laundrette can be a chilling experience, a heightened state of awareness abounds, accentuating that all pervasive absence of presence.

The unseen hand, that write the notes, that speak to you in emphatic hurried caps, pinned or taped precisely on the walls.

The ghosts of clothes, still warm, now gone.

A Proust defying amalgam of aromas, that almost fills the air.

Just you and a series of slots, demotic instructions, care worn utilitarian surfaces and time.

Wash Inn get out.

Laundrette – Rhayader

There is a sign.

An Illuminated sign.

There are signs.

Handwritten signs – notices, instructions, scribbled hurriedly, underlined, highlighted, boxed for emphasis.

Taped up.

There are machines, top loaders, best left half empty.

Terrazzo floor, leatherette banquette.

Out of disorder comes out of order.

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Close the door when you leave