Monday, January 22, 2007

Portmeirion Gone Bad

Have just spend a vivid week-end with “T” in her house in Jaywick – a sort of Portmeirion gone bad. Built in the 1930s as a somewhat optimistic leisure industry project, the many holiday chalets quickly became permanent homes to people who couldn’t afford a full sized house. The Luftwaffe provided the final incentive to fill the place to capacity in the late 1940s and early 50s.

“T” lives in a perfectly good brick 1980s house surrounded by tiny wooden chalets in the notorious Brooklands part of the village, supposedly one of the most deprived areas of Britain. It certainly looks very strange, as if it should be on the Gulf of Mexico rather than the shoreline of Essex. The style is rather twee 1930s mock-Tudor single story bungalows (‘chalets’) in wood and concrete, with the occasional more daringly modern Art Deco ‘studio’ in concrete and pebbledash. The American feel is enhanced by the pot-holed ill-maintained concrete roads, which are laid out on a grid-pattern.

Brooklands is named after the
famous racetrack, and almost every street in the area is named after a famous car manufacturer of the period. The result is the kind of scheme a couple of ten year olds might dream up but adults would reject as too infantile: Austin Ave is next to Alvis Ave which is next to Humber Ave, next to Riley Ave. Essex Ave breaks the mood a little, but then it’s next to Vauxhall Ave, Lancia Ave and Fiat Ave. Best of all are the avenues named after cars nobody remembers now such as Lanchester, Singer, and Crossley.

Add the beach, the dunes, the Martello Tower, some surprising sunshine and “T’s” library of approximately 4000 books and you have the material for a good week-end.


Blogger Marshall North said...

I don't suppose there's a lane named after the infamous Chevy Celebrity, is there? That would be asking for too much, I guess.

3:26 PM  
Blogger roGER said...

I'll have to take a look and see if there is a Chevrolet avenue - frankly I doubt it, as American cars have always been pretty rare in the UK.

I miss the Celebrity, even though Maurice used to doubt it's existence.

Hope you are well and the winter isn't too severe.

5:16 PM  

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