I have lived on and off Shoreham Beach now for most of my life. It didn’t get planned that way – it just happened. When my parents found this area as a suitable place to live ( for a short while) it seemed ideal. Close to the beach; safe area and lots of kids. Well, I was 6 years old at the time.
A new estate was being built and it was the first house my parents afforded to buy. The year was 1963. A halcyon time for kids. We had lots of bombed sites; ( the Canadian RAF were stationed there and there was a derelict building where there old swimming pool used to be ) lots of open ground; and we just played and played and played. When we moved in, so did other families and a wonderful community was built.
Shoreham Beach has a fascinating history and I shall bore you with the 3 main communities who have migrated here over the years
The first is that we have the rather proud connection of having the first Film Studio here on Shoreham Beach and the second home my parents had was built on the old tennis courts of the Film studio. In fact my father’s current house was on the site of Florrie Foord’s old house which, apparently, was a Gentlemans Club with extras.
( Now come on, you know what I mean, don’t you??????)
Most fitting when you think that Shoreham Beach also has a name of being a Swingers Paradise and has been called Share’ Em Beach with a wink and a touch of the nose. Many of the houses on the Beach were occupied by stars of the day including Marie Loftus and sadly when the Second World War came, they were demolished for fear of an invasion. However if you look carefully at the foreshore road, you can still see one or two houses which were constructed from railway carriages and those carriages were dragged along the river by horses. How GREAT is that????
The final community is the Houseboat Scene and I love it. It makes me very annoyed when people call for them to be dragged out to sea and sunk ( most wouldn’t get that far anyway) and they have a lively vibrant community along the river bank, which actually backs onto my house. Rumour has it that Rod Stewart lived on one of them and was jet hosed off by Police during the Beatnik Period when they were trying to evict undesirables. Leo Saywer also lived here. Now we have artists; ex Pop Stars ( something to do with Cats but I cant remember the Band and many other TRULY interesting sorts.)
Shoreham Beach is actually an isthmus or a sand bank and should flooding occur, I would be sunk, literary as the land where my house is, is below sea level. My father, being on the foreshore will fare much better. They have banked the shingle up on his side. If you look carefully at this photograph, which I took from the river bank, you can see across the Park to the Beach Huts. Maybe you can see that the ground is higher there…. no such luck for us on the cheaper end of the Beach.. ha ha
I cycle to work most days. Its a quick ride and I stop at the footbridge and just gaze. I catch my breath and count my blessing…. Before I get there, I cycle along the Towpath. Such a magical place. Houseboats to the left and now, when the foliage is at its best, you cycle through a small tunnel of trees. Its very pretty
The towpath is narrow but no one shouts at you if you cycle along there. Pedestrians just stand to one side. The house boats are on the left.. Its all full of hellos and bonhomie!
I have often just put on a coat over my dressing gown and walked the dog there early morning. In my slippers, as well. Now I know you may think its a bit “de classe” but no one gives a monkey’s cuss what you wear and it suited me to drag a coat on and walk along there as dawn was coming up over The Downs. You can see the town across the river. The day was starting.. and I liked to stand and stare. One part looks over the park and the other one, with the red boat, you can see the town in the distance. All great navel gazing locations. I always have my best ideas walking the dog and gazing across the river.
If you are really lucky and its the right time of the year be sure to look out for Herons and, for the first time this year, Seals have been seen swimming up the river. Oh how lucky are we…
The house boats are MAGNIFICENT> All different styles; some on Air B & B and all with a character of their own. One of them was a German Minesweeper ( Fische ) Wonderful old boats that has been altered and enhanced to embrace this alternative way of life.
We even have a boat which was a Hospital Boat in the Falklands. and another concrete one which was used to carry water up and down the Thames in WW2 ( Aquarius)
Other are somewhat less remarkable, until you come to boats owned by Hamish. Now Hamish is a bit of a character and will love being called that. Apparently he has 8 boats along the Towpath, and maybe this is true, but for now I want to show you 3 of them.
What imagination, eh…….? Boats made by using old cars; coaches and aircrafts. It has been well documented in both local and national papers and maybe the link will do a better job than I can. Their photographs really do these boats justice and certainly more than I do, so do follow the link to see exactly what has been created……
( yes, sorry H – it is a Daily Mail article, but it was what Google threw up at me )
I took the pictures this afternoon when it was low tide, which is a shame. There is a lot of Shite around the boats. They tend to have lots of wood and crap stored for further developments on their homes and being mud flats its not attractive at low tide, but once the tide is high ( as Blondie would say) its delightful and I am so pleased I don’t live anywhere else.
The boat Aquarius is the one made of concrete and was used in the War in the River Thames to transport water. Its very odd having a boat made from concrete, but it is!
In the meantime, if you don’t hear from me for a while, be sure its because we have been flooded out…..