We are heading south today into Sussex, our destination being Bexhill on the coast. The sky is overcast and I vehemently hope it will improve because the seaside needs sun!
London Bridge is one of London’s oldest stations, having opened in 1836. It has been rebuilt several times and these days is something of an untidy mess, badly in need of refurbishment. (Personally, I would knock it down and start again.) The prospect is not improved by the building works going on all around it.
One of the causes of the disruption, noise and dirt is the construction of the monstrous Shard, the cancerous growth disfiguring the skyline of London.
The 43 bus carries us to London Bridge but as we have bought off-peak tickets with a network card, we cannot board a train before 10 am. This gives us time for breakfast so we take the stairs to Tooley Street.
We cross the street to Hay’s Galleria and go to see what is on offer at Café Rouge. Returning to the station just after 10, we join a delayed Brighton train on platform 5. As it is still fairly early and Brighton is a popular destination, there are many customers for an already well subscribed train. We manage to get seats but others are not so lucky.
We had to change trains at Haywards Heath and again at Eastbourne. At the latter station, a gull was keeping watch from a vantage point on top of a parked train. We must have looked promising for some reason because he came to see if we had anything for him.
The third train dropped us at Bexhill whose slightly strange station is pictured above. From either platform you walk up a long sloping ramp to the bridge and to the entrance.
From the station we walked down the appropriately named Sea Road towards the seafront.
We roamed around some of the streets and found a few interesting buildings such as the Masonic Temple (foundation stone dated 1931) and a seafront apartment block with turrets and Dutch gables, though I don’t know the age of this one.
Our ramblings eventually brought us to the seafront. Though the weather was a little brighter, it was not enough to bring people out in crowds.
The yacht club showed no signs of activity and the shingle beach was virtually deserted.
We were rather intrigued by these seafront apartments, separated from the beach only by the walkway. I wonder whether the waves ever reach them in stormy weather. It’s certainly not far to go for a swim though you may get some noise from passers-by.
Further along, another set of apartments is set back tastefully from the beach by a large garden.
This seafront walk or promenade is known as West Parade. Compared with brasher seafronts like those of Brighton and Southend, it has a rather sober but elegant feel to it. Here too we find what is called the Colonnade or the George V Colonnade, currently undergoing refurbishment.
At the moment, this elegant structure is one big building site and cannot be seen at its best. Let’s hope it will soon be restored to its full glory.
The Colonnade is a Grade II listed building – no surprises there.
Another notable building here on the seafront is the De La Warr Pavilion. Described as a “Modernist icon”, the Pavilion was designed by Erich Mendelsohn and Serge Chermayeff and was opened by the 9th Earl De La Warr in December 1935 (though the plate beneath the staircase was laid by the Earl in May).
The Pavilion hosts exhibitions, concerts, learning programmes and other activities as you can see by going to the Pavilion Web site. It also has a cafe and restaurant where we had a pleasant lunch.
After lunch, we continued exploring and discovered the indoor market in Western Road, though by the time we arrived many of the stalls were closed. It might be more interesting earlier in the day.
We saw the public library but didn’t go inside…
… and admired Edward VII’s coronation clock.
We sat in a seafront shelter for a while and a beetle paid us a visit and went for a stroll on my shoulder bag. We then set out to find Bexhill Museum.
We had been meaning to visit the Bexhill Museum for some time but we had left it a little late. There is an admission fee and they pointed out to us that they were closing within the hour so it wasn’t worth buying tickets. We will try again another day.
We dropped into the Bay Hotel for coffee and cake before turning for the station and our train home.
Bexhill is a historic town in Norman territory – Hastings is just a little to the east – and today is a pleasant and vivacious seaside town, a good place to spend the day. But now it was time for us to return to London. We made our way to the station, walked down the long ramp and caught a train to Haywards Heath where we took another direct to London Bridge. We shall come back one of these days and try to catch the museum at last.