Saturday, December 19th 2015
We had arranged to meet a friend in Brighton and caught a train thither from St Pancras. Our rendezvous was Divall’s cafe, across the road from the station. We soon discovered that it was a match day with Brighton and Hove Albion, aka the Seagulls, at home to Middlesbrough. The station and the streets were crowded in consequence. Happily, we managed to find a table in the cafe where our friend soon joined us.
After the usual catching up and general conversation, there arose the question ‘What do we do now?’ Tigger of course had a ready answer: ‘The boat show!’ she said. So we caught a bus to Shoreham.
Shoreham is a pleasant and interesting town a short distance from Brighton, west along the coast. It’s a seaside town (its official name is Shoreham-on-Sea) but it also boasts a picturesque and useful river, the Adur, which passes through the town and whose lower reaches provide for a port and a marina. (See here for a Google Map of Shoreham.)
The bus dropped us off near the Crown and Anchor with its well known figure of a dagger wielding buccaneer.
A few yards away is the Adur Ferry Bridge which carries pedestrians across the River Adur and saves a much longer trip by the road bridge. This bridge, opened in 2013, replaced a previous footbridge called the Shoreham Ferry Bridge. The names suggest that the successive bridges themselves replaced a ferry but I have not so far found any evidence supporting this conjecture.
Our way took us across the bridge and this, in turn, afforded views of the river. The Adur is quite broad here and is bordered by mud flats and marshy areas.
Here the view is upriver. Near the centre of the picture (click for a larger version), you can see where the river branches. The southern side of that branch is where we were heading – see the map below.
If you cross the bridge and turn right (west), the road takes you to a pedestrian path called Riverbank. On the map it is shown as a dotted line.
The marshy land here is the graveyard for a number of craft that somehow ended up here, never to move again but to sit here gently rotting away.
Close by is a road called Beach Green, where a wall has been used as the canvas for a sea-themed piece of street art.
Along the river here lie about forty small ships or large boats (depending on your definition of those terms) and these are what we had come to see. This collection of eccentric and extraordinary houseboats is what Tigger refers to as the ‘boat show’, though it is not a show in any formal sense.
People have used these craft to create their homes and have allowed their imagination to run unimpeded in the resulting creations. Some of the boats are hardly altered at all while others have been so completely transformed that it is difficult to see the boat at all. Some are craft that have a history behind them, while others appear to be ordinary boats that once served their purpose and have now ended here as someone’s home.
They lie in higgledy-piggledy confusion, some boldly facing the path, others shyly hiding behind one another. What follows is a sample set without any claim to completeness. Comments would be either too prolix or inadequate, so I have not put any for the boats. Let them speak for themselves.
Having followed Riverbank for the whole of its length, we emerged at the main road, called Brighton Road, where we could catch a bus back to Brighton and from there the train to London. Before leaving, I took a last look back along the Adur: