SO ONCE again the hopes and dreams of the people of Bognor Regis have been shattered.
Despite all the hard work by the Enterprise Bognor Regis group, once again, as has happened so many times before, the people of Bognor have been left hugely disappointed.
I suppose we should not have been surprised, over the past half century we have been disappointed time and time again.
In the early 1950s the marvellous Pavilion, the largest dance and conference hall on the south coast, its surrounding gardens, fountain and boating pool, were levelled and replaced by Queensway, Fitzleet flats and Hothampton car park.
The late 1960s saw the demolition of the Theatre Royal (the finest theatre between Portsmouth and Brighton), the adjacent Rex Ballroom with a skating area beneath it, the covered shopping parade that circled these buildings, and the restaurant, shops, entertainment centres and zoo along the seafront.
Despite grandiose schemes about what was going to replace these very fine buildings, we ended up with the Regis Centre, and Mountbatten Court.
I think that the combining of Bognor, Littlehampton and Arundel into one district was also a disappointment.
It created a divergent area that despite the best efforts of Arun must have been an almost impossible task to govern.
The wonderful Esplanade Theatre was demolished and replaced with the skateboarding area, another very sad disappointment; but possibly the greatest disappointment of all was the covering up of the famous sands with thousands of tons of pebbles, that not only covered the sands but also the lower promenade.
Butlin’s came, and although I’m sure that they help the town now, I’m not so sure that they did originally.
The pier, which at one time had steamers calling and collecting passengers for a trip along the Channel, was damaged and lost half its length.
It was never repaired: another great disappointment for Bognor Regis.
Later, Bognor Regis applied for the funding that was available for any new projects in 2000.
The project put forward was a fantastic futuristic pier, designed by the very talented local artist Mike Jupp aided by Steve Goodheart (of ROX fame).
Once again Bognor was disappointed and Portsmouth got their Spinnaker Tower instead!
There are more disappointments that I’m sure other people can remember, but to bring it all up to date, there is the disappointment of St Modwen and their wonderful scheme that was put forward, and for which everybody voted, but alas is not now going to take place – not in its original form anyway.
Ken Scutt, RVM,
Nyewood Lane, Bognor Regis