Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Wild, Winged Victory and Setting on History

Wild :- Natural and overgrown. This is the route that I sometimes take when walking into the city of Brighton from Ovingdean. There's a public right of way that cuts up over the downs and through the middle of East Brighton Golf Course which eventually leads you out into Whitehawk and the edge of the city. It's a shorter walk than the undercliff / clifftop route but it's wilder, more open and much much darker at night.

Winged Victory :- I have known this building for much of my life as it sits on the edge of Ovingdean village (where I live) overlooking the sea. The building was constructed in 1937 and opened in 1938 as St Dunstan's Ovingdean. It was later renamed Ian Fraser House in 1971 but changed back to its original name in 1995 and then in 2012 was renamed once more as Blind Veterans UK​. The reason this image is titled "Winged Victory" is because that's the name of the beautiful 1938 sculpture holding the insignia of St Dunstan's that sits above the chapel. It was created by the sculptor Julian Phelps Allan, O.B.E. (1892-1996). It's quite a deceiving work of art as it doesn't appear to be big when seen from the ground. In actual fact the sculpture is 610 cm which is 20 feet or 6.09 metres in height. In 1938 Julian Phelps Allan wrote ''I am now working on what will be a 20ft figure for the new St Dunstan's Convalescent Home which is being built outside Brighton. This is a ‘Winged Victory’ holding the insignia of St Dunstan's. It is rather an adventure, especially as no one knows whether the floor of my studio will hold it! ''

Setting on History :- I have written and posted about the famous late Victorian "Brighton and Rottingdean Seashore Electric Railway" a few times before. The shots that I have used have oftne been of the remaining blocks and footings that can still be seen at low tide between the marina and Ovingdean. It is however quite rare that you get to see blocks on the Western side of the marina, you need a really low tide in order to do that. I was lucky enough back in September last year (2014) to find myself down by the beach during one of those very low tides and there were those historical blocks. What makes this section of the footings more intriguing is that they curve. From Rottingdean they cut in reasonably straight line passing by Ovingdean Gap and then vanishing underneath Brighton Marina which was built over them in the 1970's. When they emerge on the Western side of the marina you see a very visible but gentle curve as they start to head in towards the beach. In actual fact they are heading to the Paston Place Groyne (better known in Brighton as Banjo Groyne due to its shape) This was where the Seashore Electric Railway (nicknamed "Daddy Long Legs") set out from or landed at the Brighton end. The car that slowly waded through the waves and carried the passengers was named "Pioneer" and a qualified sea captain was required to be on board at all times. The railway was short lived as it only operated between 1896 and 1901. You can read more about it here :- Brighton and Rottingdean Seashore Electric Railway

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill