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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Hastings – Model Village

Blimey, I remember the castle and the hamster wheel thing. It was, in those days, as close to you would get to an adventure play park, it was on the same site that is now held by Clambers and it was all outdoors. The Castle, the Hamster Wheel, an army zip slide, seesaws, roundabouts and I think there was a small paddling pool. The Castle stunk of wee, probably where kids couldnt be bothered to get to the toilet. I remember it even had towers that you could go up .

Next to the play park was a putting course and you use to pay where the bowling green hut is now. Then the other side was a crazy golf course and you purchased the tickets from the model village hut. We had some great times up there . We use to spend the morning in the museum and then a snack and a drink at a very small cafe that was just below White Rock Road, in Cambridge Road (since gone) and then off to the putting, the play park and then the crazy golf, in that order 

Can you imagine kids being allowed out to do that now ? We were 12 years old in 1973 and use to catch the 433 bus from the Fortune of War (well thats what we called the bus stop anyway) in Priory Road, to the Oval and back.

Happy days 

The Hastings Model Village took three years to build and opened on 19th February 1955. Designed by Stanley Deboo, it featured models of classic Sussex houses including oast-houses and timber-framed houses.

Sadly the Model Village was forced to close in December 1998 after vandalism caused £5,000 worth of damage. It was replaced by a miniature golf course built by Chris Richards.

The model village was replaced by a lazer maze style gaming centre in 2011, but still some of the original model village foundations remain at the site to this day.

 I love model villages, the real rendered diminutive in tiny eye bite size pieces. I have a particular affection for lost model villages, and particularly lost model villages which I have never visited. Having discovered a set of vintage images at the Vintage Village – I set out on a virtual journey by postcard, into a collective unconscious, previously uncollected.
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Here are the mechanically retrieved lost remnants of a lost world.
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Washeteria – Hastings

Don’t forget to forget.

Big is not large, not small.

This is a dirty blue,  washed-out pale yellow, Alice in Wonderland un-wonderful land.

Time will not stand still – you’re in a spin, oh what a spin that you’re in.

Walk in, wash and wish.

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.

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.

Hastings – Sea Front Shelters

The very first time I visited Hastings, I was at once so easily enchanted by the seafront and its shelters.

Perfectly formed cast concrete poetry, facing the swelling channel.

Offering shade and respite from coastal sun, wind and rain.

Temporary home to some.

Decorated in the finest style.

A short endless walk, sea to the right, back again, to your left.

St Leonards Bulverhythe – Valley of the Lost Ice Cream Vans

Somewhere at the edge of the World ice cream vans go to die, I know I saw them from the train back from Brighton, I just had to go and have a look. I was received warmly by the busy proprietors going busily about their business, readying the working vans for their working day on the coast. It seems they break the invalids up for spares keeping the ageing vehicles on the road for another season – dispensing joy to jolly girls and boys in cornet, tub and lolly form. There is however something inevitably heartbreakingly poignant, seeing the signage fade, in the southern sun, as brambles weave in and out of open window, steering wheel, wheel arch and fridge. Ask not for whom the chimes chime. They chime for you. Nevermore.