Littlehampton, Big Ideas

Last week I had a trip down to Littlehampton on the West Sussex coast.  So, why did I decide to travel an hour and a half out of my way to visit a tiny little seaside town you may ask….well it certainly wasn’t for the shopping.  Quite a few of the shops on the high street were closed – I appreciate that it was a Wednesday, but I thought we’d got beyond that arcane habit in the second decade of the 21st century; one shop even had a sign which read: ‘Gone fishing – any deliveries can be dropped off next door and if you need to contact me call my mobile, No. ***********’.  Had I stepped into a Carry On film!

P1000710The real reason I had traveled this far was to have lunch at the East Beach Cafe designed by Thomas Heatherwick (the designer behind the Cauldron at the London Olympics, amongst may other interesting creations).  I had seen the cafe on the internet and thought that it look quite unusual and worth a closer inspection.  I reserved a table the previous week, then decided to investigate whether there was anything else worth seeing in Littlehampton.

P1000711To my surprise there were two other features that I discovered via the internet on the seafront – one was a white-painted concrete shelter/bandstand, the other was apparently the longest bench in Britain.  But I’ll come back to those shortly.

P1000713To tell the truth the Cafe was a bit of a disappointment – for some reason it looked far more impressive on the website (and in the photographs) than it did in real life.  It just seemed smaller, and with the main metallic feature hidden round the back, the front of it came across as quite ordinary.  The inside did not help either – rather than a hard metallic or at least sharp-lined interior, it was rough plastered in white with soft undulations which reminded me of those tacky 60’s cafe’s which were made to look like the inside of a cave.

The food was fine, it tasted good and was well presented – but unfortunately our drinks had bits of something in them, so we had to send them back for fresh ones.  The service was ok – although a simple goodbye as we departed would have left us with a slightly warmer feeling about the place.

A short walk along the seafront and you can find an unusual white-painted concrete Bandstand which faces the town and a similar looking Shelter which faces the sea.  It is certainly a good beachfront feature and I would have liked to have seen it in use – and if you fancy performing there you can book a slot here!

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With the next item you may be able to help.  At the moment Littlehampton has The Longest Bench in Britain and they want to get it into the record books:-

The longest bench in Britain was opened to the public in Littlehampton, West Sussex on the 30th July 2010. The bench seats over 300 people along Littlehampton’s promenade, overlooking the town’s award-winning Blue Flag beach.

This project began as an idea to create a very long bench down the spine of the promenade at Littlehampton, potentially the longest bench in the UK or perhaps eventually the world. The structure sinuously travels along the promenade, meandering around lampposts, bending behind bins, and ducking down into the ground to allow access between the beach and the Green.

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It starts in one of two shelters (one of which is pictured above), then snakes its way along the promenade.  It is a great idea which is ideal for the seaside, it is both practical and playful; and this excellent addition to the town is probably my favourite of the three.

If you are interested in supporting the bench and helping Littlehampton make it into the record books in return for your name or message engraved onto the bench, contact longest.bench@arun.gov.uk

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