Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A walk on the quiet (east)side

WE went for a walk along the prom on Sunday evening, as we often do. We usually stop, look back over Lyme Bay with Golden Cap in the distance and remark how lucky we are to live in Lyme Regis. I never tire of that view.

Only this time it was different. This time we were strolling towards Golden Cap, going east and not west.

The day before I picked up on Facebook that the new eastern promenade was now open to the public. 

And during the day a number of people contacted me to ask did I know the new seawall was now open to the public?

The wall is part of the £19.5 million project to protect homes, roads and infrastructure on the eastern side of the town from the effects of coastal erosion and landslips.

We weren’t the only ones to be taking a post-dinner stroll in the late August sunshine.
We met a number of locals all of whom had the same idea and commented: “Isn’t this wonderful?”

And indeed it is. 

Lucky Lyme, I say, for the new eastern walkway will undoubtedly be another big attraction for locals and visitors who want a quiet stroll by the sea without all the hullaballo of the commercial seafront. A walk on the quiet side.

I love Lyme in the summer (well I love it all year round, really) but sometimes, especially during August, you feel  how nice it would be to escape the masses.

I hope West Dorset District Council, which has led the project, will avoid the temptation to commercialise this new walkway with ice-cream concessions and the like. I’m pretty sure they won’t go down that road, having protected the Gun Cliff walk from the kiss-me-quick attractions.

As well as providing the ideal place for a quiet stroll, the new walkway will also provide better access to back beach. And I understand that local anglers have already latched onto the new seawall  as an ideal spot to cast their lines.

It will certainly be a big attraction for the hoardes of fossilers who frequent that area and who can now gain easier access to the rich pickings from Lyme’s crumbling cliffs.

As a local from that side of town, back beach was very much our domain as kids. We would spend many summer afternoons at weekends exploring the rock pools for shrimps (never prawns for some reason) which provided Sunday tea. Every shed in Anning Road had a couple of shrimping nets.

Phase IV of the ongoing costal protection scheme is not complete with some areas still fenced off for minor works to be completed. Landscaping and planting will be completed by Christmas and the walkway will be closed for three weeks in October for steps and a footpath to the Charmouth Road car park to be completed. Another big asset.

Lyme should be grateful for the manner in which these works have been handled by West Dorset, carried out with a minimum of intrusion and the minor inconvenience (considering the future benefit to Lyme) of losing a few hundred car parking spaces.

The scheme was made possible by a £14.6million contribution from Defra with Dorset County Council (£4.27 million) and West Dorset District Council (£600,000) chipping in.
Those who harp on about how little the county and district councils do for Lyme would do well to remember that.

The official opening of the scheme will take place before next summer when all works are completed and the extensive planting established.

Any ideas about what the new walkway should be called?

The stars who crowned our regatta queens

MY favourite radio programme is late on a Sunday evening when lyricist Don Black plays his favourite tunes on BBC Radio 2. It suits my mood.

Black invariably plays a Matt Monroe number. I think he managed the East London-born crooner at one time. So what has this got to do with Lyme, I hear you mutter?

Listening to a Matt Munro song on Black’s show during Regatta Week brought back memories when the singer, one of the most popular in the world of entertainment in the 1960s and 70s, came to Lyme to crown Miss Lyme Regis.

In those days all the big stars appeared in summer season at the  Weymouth Pavilion and the management always encouraged their clients to make as many personal appearances as possible in the area to boost ticket sales.  

Before I got involved in the Regatta (I was secretary for nine years), I can remember Anne Shelton crowning the Regatta Queen on Cobb Gate car park and an appearance by the Dagenham Girl Pipers, a big hit with the boys. During my time as secretary we managed to persuade a whole host of big names to come to Lyme. 

These included Tommy Trinder, Hope and Keen and Billy Dainty (who was the spitting image of Regatta President Ivor Curtis) and if all else failed we could always rely on someone from Westward  TV or BBC Plymouth - Ken Mcleod and Hugh Scully being firm favourites. We even had a visit from Miss World, although she failed to perform the crowing - but that’s another story for a future column!

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