OCT 11 Little memories of a seaside childhood...
One day, as I was waiting in the queue at the local supermarket, I overheard one of the staff mention that there was a function being held at the shelters. This seemingly innocent remark brought back a few memories, and among the foremost of these were the shelters under the pier, at the bottom of the Green, which protected visiting ladies and gentlemen from the sea spray and cold winds, whilst on a stroll along the promenade, in those sedate Edwardian days. By the time us kids arrived on the scene, the windows and glass had been completely removed, leaving open apertures, but inside there were bench seats all around the back walls.
However these shelters also provided a rendezvous for certain ladies of doubtful repute, whilst entertaining their male consorts during the night hours. This usage was, of course, no interest to us kids at the time, but we used to use the shelters to sort out our lugworm bait in the dry, after the hard work of forking the unfortunate creatures from their sandy homes on the beach. The recalling of the shelters caused a smile and, laughter, if any others of the more mature longstanding residents happened to be in the supermarket queue, and hence gave looks of concern and bewilderment by the staff, who were innocently thinking of the function that the supermarket was advertising.
I have also noticed the remains of a concrete and brick structure, situated almost opposite the shops on the promenade, not far from the ramp descent to the beach. Usually these remains were covered by the sand and rocks on the beach, but a scouring tide had exposed the ruins, which were of a short jetty, the main purpose of which eludes me, but we often used it as a convenient place to catch fish.
There were of course, many reports of good quantities of fish, usually of sweet tasting small dabs, and larger flounders and the occasional plaice, but we usually concentrated our efforts from the pier, which was only a few yards away, and of course allowed us to fish in the deeper waters further out but one evening I was fishing from the jetty, and not being very successful, I noticed when reeling in my line, that a sizeable flat shape was following the bait to the jetty wall, only to quickly swim away when I lifted the tackle out of the water. I quickly re- baited and cast out my line, only to see the fish follow the tackle in again. This happened again, until I reeled in more slowly, and only a few feet away, let my bait settle on the sandy floor.
Suddenly I was rewarded by a sharp tug on the line, and reeling in found I had captured a dab, larger than the usual size, which provided a welcome tasty evening meal.
Some time later, we visited the shelters carrying an old empty oil drum, used for waste paper, and a selection of bangers from the firework box at home. We overturned the oil drum, and lighting a banger, quickly slipped it underneath the drum.
The sharp explosion echoed loudly in the empty shelter, and sent the oil drum upwards to above our heads, to crash noisily back to the floor.
A shout from the pier caused us to look up, and there was the piermaster looking down at us, “ Huh! I might have known it was you lot, I thought I had been torpedoed in the North Atlantic during the war!”
Now there is no evidence of the shelters, and the area has been greened over, and a path leads down to the promenade. There is one place, where a short portion of one of the supporting stanchions is exhibited as a memorial to our pier, which was swept away by a storm in the evening of January 11th.1978.