The last West Pier II

Part of the ‘Past to Present’ series from Jemverse

I found it on the high tide line
after a night of fire
the Grand Old Lady of the sea
destroyed by spite and ire
Yet carried on an ebbing tide
along the coast to me
a memory of those boards I trod
now rescued from the sea
So though her grandeur is no more
complete her fall from grace
Brighton's West Pier always will
in history have her place

©Jemverse

Photo – Jempics – Brighton’s closed West Pier, early 1980’s (pre fires).

On 28 March 2003 the pavilion at the end of the derelict West Pier in Brighton caught fire. Always presumed to have been the work of arsonists, yet never proven, it was still the final death knell for the grand old lady. Opened back in 1866 and surviving two world wars, the pier was sadly closed to the public in 1975. However, I still have fond memories of walking its promenade decks back in the 60s and early 70s. Who knows, I could have trodden the very board fragment I rescued and which now has pride of place in my back garden.

The pier head, summer 2002
My salvaged board fragment

The Gut

Part of the ‘Past to Present’ series from Jemverse

The beach Ted Bunker launched his
boat from sadly is no more
once called 'The Gut' its gutted now
no more a shingle shore
Filled in to make a car park
the beach where once we played
is another loss to history
and to the fishing trade

©Jemverse

Photo – Jempics (the Fisherman’s Beach [aka ‘The Gut’], Albion Street, Southwick, Sussex).

[‘The Gut’ was a small beach immediately behind Albion Street in Southwick, West Sussex. It was used by fishermen for many years and I can vividly remember playing there as a boy and talking to the fishermen as they pulled their boats ashore at high tide. But now – for no sound reason that I can imagine – the beach has been filled in to make way for a public car park].

This is what ‘The Gut’ looks like today

Bungalow Town

Part of the ‘Past to Present’ series from Jemverse

Just east of the church on the foreshore
bungalows once on the beach
presented a vista of Shoreham
history has put out of reach
Popularised by early movies
actors built many homes there
salvaging old railway carriages
the carriage works then had to spare
Mary Loftus, a music hall favourite
Florrie Ford, Ernie Mayne, Marie Lloyd
all of the lovelies who flocked to the beach
making it hard to avoid

©Jemverse

Photo – from a postcard in the author’s collection

[South of the town of New Shoreham, now fronted by the estuary of the River Adur, a spit of land formed by the eastward drift of shingle through the English Channel pushed the mouth of the Adur slowly towards what is now Hove. This spit of land is what eventually became Shoreham beach and, although there were probably dwellings there long before, it was popularised in the early 20th century when film studios were built to capture the light needed for early moving pictures. As actors flocked to live there, it became known as ‘Bungalow Town’].

Pearl

Thirty years ago today
two star-crossed lovers wed
and as years passed their love it grew
throughout the life they led
So to celebrate their special day
a pearl of best persuasion
for this their anniversary 
befits this grand occasion

©Jemverse

Photo – Wikipedia (edited)

Lavender by the wall II

Yes, I treasure this small lavender
that's growing by the wall
as unlike all my others
I'm surprised it's here at all
And yet it keeps on growing
and flowering each year
to bring to me the pleasure
that I get because it's here
and diminutive it may be
but that holds no sway with me
for a lavender is a lavender
so I will let it be

©Jemverse

Photo – Jempics

[See also the first ‘Lavender by the wall‘ published last year]

Malduppinne

Part of the ‘Past to Present’ series from Jemverse

'Malduppinne' as it was first called
in thirteen forty-seven
by grant from John le Pottere
to his wife in his succession
Its purpose now long lost to time
a museum now it hosts
in the oldest secular building that
the town of Shoreham boasts
From 'Malduppinne' to 'Marlipins'
this build of Caen stone
with flint-knapped chequered walls remains
the oldest one still known

©Jemverse

Photo – from a postcard in the author’s collection

[Although vaguely referred to as ‘The Chantry’ (as this postcard claims) this ancient building in Shoreham’s High Street probably dates back to the 12th century and is one of the oldest buildings erected and used for entirely secular purposes remaining in Europe. Now hosting the town’s museum, the earliest written reference to it is in a deed dated 1st August 1347 (20th year in the reign of Edward III) in which John le Pottere of New Shoreham bequeathes a stone-built corner tenement called ‘Malduppinne’ in the market place called ‘Otmarcat’ (oat market) to his wife Juliana and thereafter to their son Richard to hold for life. However, the building itself (certainly medieval) probably dates back to at least 1100 with a reconstruction in about 1300. It was definitely a builder’s storehouse in the 19th century as it was then occupied by Messrs Gates & son, a long-established Shoreham family with roots back to medieval times. One other thing is definite; it has never had anything in common with a ‘chantry’. That’s nothing more than whimsical fantasy].

There was lightning

Out to sea off Brighton
a flash lit up the night
there, just outside the Shelter Hall
fleetingly in sight
But pausing for a moment there
and waiting patiently
whilst rain fell there in splatters
I got a shot for me
We never heard the thunder
but there was lightning there for sure
coupled with the heavy rain
which fell as down it poured

©Jemverse

Photo – Jempics

The Lanes

Part of the ‘Past to Present’ series from Jemverse

Up at the top of Buckingham Road
the elms, mature, still stand
a reminder of the distant past
when the manor house stood grand
part of a bygone Shoreham
a remnant of 'The Lanes'
with triangle of trees and shrubs
is all that now remains

©Jemverse

Postcard – from the author’s collection

[The image on this postcard shows ‘The Lanes’ as they were in the early 1900s. A local Shoreham historian, Michael Norman, said the elms were planted by the Lord of the Manor as part of a considered plan to provide timber for shipbuilding. Others say that they were seeded during the Napoleonic wars to provide gunstocks for the army. All that remains now is an overgrown triangle of trees at the northern border of Buckingham and Old Shoreham roads].

And the sun shone

And for a while the heat was quite intense
as the sun shone down from the sky
there was barely a breeze
to be felt on our knees
though the cloud to the east wasn't shy

As after a while it covered the blue
and brought welcome patters of rain
cooled us all down
as it wetted the ground
before the sun shone once again

©Jemverse

Photo – Jempics

Longest Day

The twenty-first, the longest day
and this 'Spanish Plume' remains
bringing heat for Solstice
for heady dancing gains
and I with best foot forward
claim the day all for my own
this solstice here in summer
in the June I've loved and known

©Jemverse

Photo – Jempics

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: