Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Seventies shenanigans on the quayside

IT’S amazing what can come to light with the passing of the years.

All quayside quips at the moment are about the impending sale and demolition of the council offices and what will be built in their place.

I’d venture to suggest that every resident in the entire town should keep a stern eye on what is being proposed so we don’t have a repeat of damage to the historical environment which cast such disgrace when the council offices were built in the 1970s.

Several of my readers have kindly provided me with even more information about the goings-on four decades ago when plans were submitted for the new council offices which involved swatting aside poorly maintained Tudor homes as if they were ramshackle chicken houses.

There was a public inquiry, an event particularly generated by two conservation minded architects, Eric Ricketts and Ernest Walmsley-Lewis.

They highlighted the obvious and grievous loss of historic buildings and the street plan, but there were also considerable doubts about the "real" intentions of the council. 

Apparently the inspector conducting the inquiry specifically asked the council's barrister: "Was there actually room for the council offices, the public library and the health centre and all the associated car parking on the site," which the council was suggesting?

He was assured that there was which is why there is a small car park either side of the main council offices block.

But you can look there until hell freezes over and you won’t find hide nor hair of either the health centre or the library, underlining the council’s unique skill in providing their own special interpretation of provision of public services which continues to this day.

Eric Ricketts and Ernest Walmsley-Lewis may have lost the war but they made sure they won a few battles, scouring the demolition of the area to make as many sketches, notes and measurements as they could in the very short time available.

Of special interest was the Tudor harbour master's house where Eric Ricketts bravely went as far as entering the house during demolition and removing the staircase balusters.

They proved to be almost the only items rescued and they now form the alter rail in St Anne's Church at Radipole.

My bride and I actually stood there in St Anne’s when we married there in 1983 but it is only very recently that I have been sent details about the altar rail and its connection with the old harbour master’s house.

It seems the rail will outlive the council offices and quite right too. There is more historical worth in them than the entire council offices put together.

Bird baiting

WELL seagulls have really gone and done it now!

Mind you, squawking through the two-minute silence at Remembrance services was always going to be unpopular.

The result has been a certain amount of public criticism sent to councillors with some fairly innovative suggestions on how the seagulls can be dealt with.

One of the more aggressive ideas was to bring along a hawk to scare them away from the service area near the cenotaph.

But, as one councillor pointed out, that might just swap the squawking of seagulls for the screeching of the hawk!

I like my suggestion a lot better. Wait until five minutes before the service starts and then scatter a couple of plates of chips on the Pavilion car park.

About ten seconds later you’ll have every seagull in the place squabbling over scraps and the service can go ahead in relative peace. 

Problem solved.

Should the Council take the lead to move drunks?

MANY congratulations to Weymouth Police for reducing the frequency of drunks slumped on the steps of the railway station.

They are hardly the first impression the town wants for visitors arriving here, but neither should they be the second impression for visitors walking into town along the seafront.

There were eight inebriates squabbling over whose turn it was with the cider bottle when I walked by the other day.

To be honest, if people want to get wrecked at 10.30am in the morning that’s their business provided it doesn’t impact on others, but when there are families about with children then neither the behaviour nor the language should be tolerated.

Certainly one mother being pestered by her daughter about what had happened was at her wits end to answer questions about why the men – and women – involved were slumped in the shelter or actually lying on the ground.

Fortunately her own daughter bailed her out by saying: “Are they tired?” to which mother gratefully replied: “I’m sure that’s it.”

Perhaps that explains the origin of the expression: “As tired as a newt!”

Whatever the reason, it may be time to consider more permanent measures to deal with these people since moving them on from the railway station merely seems to be switching the same problem to a different place.

Police are stretched enough as it is so this may be a social nettle that the council might have to take a lead in grasping, perhaps through a few more effective bylaws than those which are currently in place.

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