LOCAL NEWS BRIGSTOCK PAVES THE WAY
ASHTAV village member, Brigstock in Northants has a brand new asset: a 9.5 mile walk known as the Lyveden Way. It is a lovely walk in an area rich in local and natural history that is now easier for everyone to enjoy since it has been equipped with new bridle gates and stiles have been replaced by kissing gates, making the route more accessible for people with mobility or visual impairments. The project was part of Northamp- tonshire County Council’s first Rights of Way Improvement Plan.
The project was supported by funding from the European Union and DEFRA through Leader + as part of their Rockingham Rural Revival programme.
For more details visit www.northamptonshire.co.uk
BEXHILL-ON-SEA GAINS TOP MARKS FOR RESTORATION OF THE DE LA WARR PAVILION
Salt , sand and sea corrupt even well-built and outstandingly designed buildings. Bexhll-on-Sea has long struggled with an acute problem: what to do with its De La Warr Pavilion, rated by architectural experts as the finest Modernist building in Britain. Eric Mendelsohn was the leading German architect who designed this grade-one listed masterpiece and he was aided by Serge Chermayeff, a former ballet dancer who had established a reputation for interior design. Earl De La Warr, the local Mayor and chairman of the national Labour
Party commissioned the project. The building received an enthusiastic reception; George Bernard Shaw commented that he was “delighted to hear that Bexhill has emerged from barbarism at last”, but, sadly, Britain in the 1930’s contained a small, vocal element who resented being shown the way by Jews fleeing from Nazi tyranny.
Unfortunately, its fine design, once so fitting for purpose as a seaside pleasure dome in the 1930’s, has made it a white elephant in recent years when the visitors it was built to amuse have departed these shores for guaranteed sun, sea sand and …. in hot-spots around the Mediterranean sea and sweltering places under palms lapped by the Pacific Ocean.
The gleaming white albatross that seemed to float like an ocean liner over the English channel below was always difficult to maintain. Electrolytic corrosion by salt spray ensures that metal-framed buildings rust and distort. The expanding rust opens fissures that allow the process to accelerate and soon plate glass windows gain release from life imprisonment, only to smash into chards as they sail away in the wind.
The local council has been in a quandary? How could it justify spending huge sums of taxpayers’ money on a building that was so difficult to use because customers’ needs had changed. At one point demolition was on the cards; at another time De La Warr was rumoured to be about to transformed into a Wetherspoon’s “theme” pub.
Whilst the building had lost its glorious sharpness, originally it was as sharp, crisp and white as a newly starched and pressed dress shirt , it had not been forgotten by admirers of modernism. When powerful organs, such as The Daily Telegraph joined the “Save the De La Warr” lobby, salvation was only a lottery ticket or two away. An independent trust was formed to take on the building; its successful lottery application brought money from both the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Arts Council to restore the building and make it fit for exhibitions of the highest quality and the Arts Council promised an annual grant to fund future programmes. Now, almost exactly 70 years after it first opened, on October 15, at midday, a gleaming pavilion will re-emerge from the builders' scaffolding after an £8m restoration. It will act as the principal centre for contemporary art, architecture, education and entertainment in the south east of England. With good food, a welcoming atmosphere and panoramic sea views, it will offer a unique high quality experience to all its visitors.
ASHTAV espouses fine design and is thrilled to see this jewel brought back to life, particularly as the Bexhill-on-Sea Historical Society is a member of ASHTAV. Next time ASHTAV members are “down south” they should make a bee-line for Bexhill-on Sea and check the DLWP out. Do tell us whether it would be a good idea to hold an ASHTAV seminar in Sussex in 2006, so that we can give the renewed facility an in-depth appraisal?
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