Monday, 8 June 2015

On the Beach

I can't imagine the degradation I would feel if I were to be asked where I live and I were forced to answer, "On the beach".  The listener would immediately have a vision of the hard pebbles that form the beach at Brighton and the dossers who can be found seeking what little shelter there is under the pier.

And yet, just a few miles along the coast, that response would have a completely different meaning.

The ancient town of Shoreham-by-Sea - to give it its full title although it is more commonly known simply as Shoreham - is a town of three parts.  There is Old Shoreham, a town on the bank of the River Adur, dates back to pre-Roman times.  The church, dedicated to St Nicolas, is partly Anglo-Saxon.  Old Shoreham is, perhaps, best remembered for the old wooden toll bridge, built in 1781 following an Act of Parliament.  Before the building of the bridge the Adur presented the one major obstacle to east-west communication along the coastal plain of Southern England. The choices open to the traveller wishing to cross the Adur were to travel miles out of the way and use the bridge at Bramber, to ford the river on horseback or to use the ferry that was operating at that time on the site of what is now the bridge.

Shoreham tollbridge with St Nicolas' church in the background.

Despite the new Norfolk Bridge being opened in 1833 a mile or so the the south, travellers were being charged to use the bridge until 1970, when the Shoreham by-pass, with its great flyover across the Adur, was opened.

Towards the end of the 11th century, the Normans established the town and port of New Shoreham at the mouth of the River Adur.  The port remains active with a power station, a lifeboat station, wharfs, quays and boatyards.

Shoreham Beach, to the south of the town, is a shingle spit deposited over millennia by longshore drift.  Converted railway carriages became summer homes around the start of the 20th century, and 'Bungalow Town', as it was then known, became home to the early UK film industry. Shoreham Beach officially became part of Shoreham-by-Sea in 1910. Much of the housing in the area was cleared for defence reasons during the Second World War and most of what remained after the war is now long gone, having been replaced by modern houses, many of which are very expensive, architect designed constructions.

There is a footbridge linking the Beach to New Shoreham, but driving from the eastern end of the Beach to the shops in the town involves a journey of some miles.

New Shoreham seen from Shoreham Beach

So, if somebody tells you that they live on the beach, they might be wealthier than you think!

1 comment:

Sarah said...

What a lovely place - I'd happily live on the beach although preferably not under a pier or actually a big fancy house - give me a wooden shack with running water and I'd be perfectly happy.