A Sunday morning stroll interrupted by a heavy and icy squall of wind-driven rain, but enough time after for the wind to dry us out. Started at the swing bridge over the river Ouse where someone reminded me of the brewer, Thomas Tipper, who helped raise money for the first bridge over the river, erected in 1783, to replace the ferry.
He brewed Stingo (strong beer) which was said to be a favourite of the Prince Regent and even gets mention in Dickens’s Martin Chuzzlewit, when Mrs Gamp calls for ‘Real Old Brighton Stingo’ and ‘Brighton Tipper’. Today his brewery is long gone, and so has much of the traditional seaport function – replaced by housing and leisure sailing uses, but the French owned port of Newhaven still operates a French ferry, seen sailing into the sun here.
The river mouth is kept free of shingle by a big harbour arm jutting into the sea west of the river. Inside its protective curve a big sandy beach has grown, and was a popular recreational facility with locals for many decades, until the French port owners closed off access to it, claiming health and safety hazards, but in reality probably seeing potential acres (or hectares – they are French after all) of reclaimed land for lucrative development.
Speaking of the French, we have been building fortifications on top of the adjacent hill for centuries, to fend off the fearsome frenchies, and the pic below shows an opening in the cliff face through which beach shingle was taken up to the fort to be turned into mass concrete during 19th century fort expansion. You can still see a grid of square holes in the cliff where timbers were fitted to erect an access scaffold. You might also see a big lump of mass concrete has fallen away thanks to landslip in the clays and sands overlying the chalk.
Newhaven still offers harbour for a small fishing fleet, and there’s a grand wet fish shop there, though I doubt their tiger prawns are local. Other sea related activities include the export of scrap metal, and the processing of sea bed sands and gravels as part of the ‘economic recovery by concreting the land and dredging the marine ecosystem’ programme. Then there is the newest industry – burning household rubbish to make a little electricity. The plant is in Newhaven even though they burn mainly Brighton rubbish because Brighton may get its act together and reduce or recycle more waste, so the port facility will allow the French owned incinerator to import French waste for burning. After all, the equipment must return a profit, and for that it must burn waste. And where better to burn it, and emit possible toxic gases than fair Albion? Think Local Act Global.