I have previously sought succour in your shady shelters, as unrelenting sheets of steel grey rain peppered the wind whipped Irish sea.
A concrete cornucopia of Californian screen block, glass, pebbledash, mosaic and crazy paving.
Municipal modernism under threat as the unstoppable force of coastal improvement lumbers on, a pantechnicon of shiny surfaces, sensitive planting, contemporary seating and laser-cut, contextually appropriate historical panels.
As Hardscape introduces a wholesome dose of CGI style medicine to the promenade
I for one will miss you all when you’re gone.
Next time I pass all this will seem as a dream, a tale told by a fool full of sand and fury signifying nothing.
Now here I am in Colwyn Bay generally minding my own and everybody else’s business, when all of a sudden I noticed a cast iron glazed awning.
Proudly announcing the proprietors – sadly supported by a distressing modern addition – now I’m not one to decry and debunk the rising tide of modernity, I’m all in favour of unisex clothing and central heating.
But the unchecked encroachment of vacuous vinyl really is the limit.
Businesses displayed a degree of dignified permanence unknown to the current high street trader. So here it is writ larger than life in stained glass and Carter’s Tiles.
Loud and proud.
And as an addendum here are the delightful tiles from the Llandudno branch, snapped two years previously.
This in so many senses is where it all began – my first encounter with the visual arts was through my Aunty Alice’s postcard album. Predating visits to Manchester City Art Gallery in my mid-teens, I was lost in a world of post WW1 printed ephemera, rendered less ephemeral by careful collection and collation. Sitting entranced for hours and hours absorbing the photography, text and illustration of hundreds of unseen hands.
This is North Shore Blackpool – behind the Metropole in the early 60s.
The colour is muted by the then state of the art colour reproduction, the holiday dress is constrained by the codes of the day. Light cotton frocks and wide brimmed sun hats, shirts tucked in belted slacks, sandals and shorts – purely for the pre-teens.
The focus and locus of fun is located on the prom and what better way to squander a moment or eighteen, than with a pleasurable round of crazy golf. Municipal Modernist frivolity rendered corporeal in corporation concrete, repainted annually ahead of the coming vacationers.
Domesticated Brutalism to soften the soul.
And there can be no better away to inform the awaiting world of your capricious coastal antics than a picture postcard, so playfully displayed on the corner shop carousel – 10p a pop.
Stopping to chuckle at the Bamforth’s mild mannered filth, yet finally purer of heart, opting for the purely pictorial.
Man and boy and beyond I have visited Blackpool – a day, week or fortnight here and there, the worker’s working week temporarily suspended with a week away.
Times have now changed and the new nexus is cash, all too incautiously squandered – Pleasure Beach and pub replacing the beach as the giddy stags and hens collide in an intoxicating miasma of flaming Sambuca, Carling, Carlsberg and cheap cocktails – for those too cash strapped for Ibiza.
The numbers are up – 18 times nothing is nothing – each year as I revisit, the primarily primary colour paint wears a little thinner in the thin salt air and the whining westerly wind, of the all too adjacent Irish Sea.
Overgrown and underused awaiting the kids and grown ups that forever fail to show. On one visit the sunken course had become the home of the daytime hard drinkers, they suggested we refurbish and run the course as a going concern. I declined lacking the time, will and capital for such a crazy enterprise.
Antonio Fusciardi emigrated in the 1960s in search of a better life. He opened a number of businesses in Ireland. In 1965 he met Anna Morelli at an Italian wedding and romance blossomed. The couple married and set up home in Marine Parade, Eastbourne. They worked very hard in establishing the business and attributed their success to ambition, dedication and the family.
The town of Llandudno developed from Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements over many hundreds of years on the slopes of the limestone headland, known to seafarers as the Great Orme and to landsmen as the Creuddyn Peninsula.
Some years later.
In 1848, Owen Williams, an architect and surveyor from Liverpool, presented landowner Lord Mostyn with plans to develop the marshlands behind Llandudno Bay as a holiday resort. These were enthusiastically pursued by Lord Mostyn. The influence of the Mostyn Estate and its agents over the years was paramount in the development of Llandudno, especially after the appointment of George Felton as surveyor and architect in 1857.
The edge of the bay is marked by concrete steps and a broad promenade, edging a pebbled beach which arcs from Orme to Orme.
Walk with me now and mark the remarkable shelters, paddling pools and bandstand screens, along with the smattering of people that people the promenade.
Betwixt and between the two world wars, the shortage of housing for the homeless, hopeless and dispossessed lead to an acceleration in the building of an informal architecture – the so-called Plotlands.
One such area and precious survivor from the last century is the Humberston Fitties – situated to south of Cleethorpes, preserved in time by the happy homesteaders.
Though under threat from Local Authority negligence or intervention, three hundred and twenty chalets prevail – against the incursion of planning regulations, building specs and a lack of respect.
I feel a real affinity for all Plotlands, having spent many summers in the converted Pagham railway carriage, belonging to my Aunty Alice and Uncle Arthur. They relocated to the south coast seeking cleaner air for Arthur’s ailing, industrialised northern lungs, thus prolonging his life.
Tamarisk – Pagham
So here are the photographs I took on a visit to The Fitties in July 2008, I walked the home made roads, amazed by the vigour and variety of shape, size, personal affectation and practical pragmatism, of this all too human architecture.
This is a particular form of independent minded Modernism – hand-forged from the vernacular.
It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are, than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise.