Decaying Old Grandeur 8: Bognor Regis

The run-down Royal Hotel. Usually the title 'Royal' is only attributed if the place has been visited by Royalty, although Bognor was visited, locals say that the hotel was not.
The run-down Royal Hotel. Usually the title ‘Royal’ is only attributed if the place has been visited by Royalty, although Bognor was visited, locals say that the hotel was not.

I just love walking along empty seasides in bad weather — for some reason they just fill me Groins at Bognor Regiswith so much happiness.

We took a 40 minute drive along the South-East coast to Bognor Regis on a visit to some returned British friends we made in Spain. This is a very run-down, small town filled with Georgian and Victorian decaying old grandeur — which I adore.

Bognor is one of the oldest recorded Anglo-Saxon place names in Sussex. In a document of 680 AD it is referred to as Bucgan ora meaning Bucge’s (a female Anglo-Saxon name) shore, or landing place. Bognor Regis was originally named just “Bognor,” being a fishing (and smuggling) village. In the 18th century it was converted into a resort by Sir Richard Hotham who tried in vein to rename it Hothampton.

Groins at Bognor Regis

Fishing Boat, Bognor Regis

Bognor pier

Fresh Fish

Primary painted fish stall roof
Primary painted fish stall roof
Too windy for umbrellas...
Too windy for umbrellas…Bognor Regis Whelk stall
Bubble for The Prisoner. You are being watched
Bubble for The Prisoner. You are being watched!

King George V bestowed the suffix “Regis” (“of the King”) on Bognor in 1929 when his physicians recommended he convalesce there to recover from lung surgery. The King, when pestered with petitions for the town while undergoing his treatment, was said to have uttered the line: “Oh! Bugger Bognor!” — which has never been forgotten.

In 1959 Butlins (who ran affordable holiday camps for the British working classes) opened their resort here. It declined in the 70s but started to make a bit of a come-back this decade with the “staycation” trend to holiday at home. It was hoped that these would be a way out of Dismaland (see my blogs on Banksy’s Dismaland). Seaside resorts are not popular with young adults; many have no wonderful childhood memories of them like us oldies — and prefer music festivals, or active holidays such mountaineering or trampolining in disused Welsh mines. Butlins have launched vintage weekend raves which seem to be gaining in popularity though. Recent immigrants to Blighty, have opted to live near cheaper seaside towns like this, in the South’s warmer climes. Polish shops have started opening up next to ye olde rock shoppes, so the fashion of the British seaside is once again changing.

Bognor horses

High interest rate loan for Dismaland anyone?
High interest rate loan for Dismaland anyone?

Casino, Bognor Regis

Stick-of-rock shop, Bognor Regis
Stick-of-rock shop, Bognor Regis
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Dismaland – Bemusement Park

Banksy's Little Mermaid sculpture, outside Cinderella's castle, complete with algae moat and long queue.
Banksy’s Little Mermaid sculpture, outside Cinderella’s castle, complete with algae moat and long queue.

Due to popular demand I am publishing some holiday snaps of my visit to Dismaland.

This is a bemusement park in Weston-super-Mare, England. On until 25th of September 2015. Devised by Banksy, Dismaland consists of an art festival, with works by 57 other contemporary artists; famous, infamous and non-famous. I spent such an enjoyable, thought-provoking day here. There was a mixed crowd of friends and families. I would love to go back in the evening, where DJs and bands such as Pussy Riot, Massive Attack and comedians such as Katherine Ryan perform. I took enough photos to fill a gallery; too many to choose from for here. I plan to make a separate blog-site just to write about some of the contemporary artists. So for now, here is just a taster of the park itself. The photos were so bright that I have actually toned down the colour in some of them.

If you do a web search you will see many more, or look on the Dismaland official website: www.dismaland.co.uk for a list of artists.

Inside Cinderella's Castle is this giant installation by Banksy. The stage coach has just crashed, the horse and Cinderella are dead and paparazzi are taking photos. A strong reminder here of Princess Diana. There is worry about Duchess Kate and heir and the children being in danger from news photographers too. But more significantly this is about fairy tales that don't end up happily ever after - which is one of the main points of the theme park.
Inside Cinderella’s Castle is this walk-round scene by Banksy.

The pumpkin coach has just crashed, the horse and Cinderella are dead and paparazzi are shooting snaps. A strong reminder of Princess Diana. Recent worries too about Duchess Kate and our heirs to the throne being in danger from sneaky news reporters. But more significantly, this is about the disillusionment of fairy tales, that do not end up happily ever after – one of the main themes throughout the park…

The entrance to Dismaland that was once the Tropicana Lido, Weston-super-Mare.
The entrance to Dismaland that was once the Tropicana Lido, Weston-super-Mare, England
Family picnic at Water Cannon Creek An armour plated riot control vehicle built to serve on the streets of Northern Ireland. Equipped with sniper posts, grenade launchers. Now – a children’s slide.
Family picnic at Water Cannon Creek. An armour plated riot control vehicle built to serve on the streets of Northern Ireland. Equipped with sniper posts, grenade launchers – And a children’s slide.
Merry-go-round slaughter house and butcher sat on boxes of lasagne. A comment on the EU meat industry when we found out that it was common practice for horse meat was sold as beef in big chain supermarkets.
A working merry-go-round-slaughter-house. A butcher sits on lasagne boxes while a horse hangs from a rack. A comment on the EU meat industry, when we discovered that it was common practice for horse meat to be sold as beef, cooked in processed foods in the biggest of supermarkets.
Visitors meander around the park. The billboard features David Cameron ‘One percent’ by Peter Kennard & Cat Phillips. To the left 'Angry Feminist Posters' by Wasted Rita, to the right the stage and cinema which shows continual short films.
A walk around the park. The billboard features Prime Minister David Cameron in ‘One percent’ by Peter Kennard & Cat Phillips. To the left ‘Angry Feminist Posters’ by Wasted Rita. To the right the stage and cinema which shows continual award-winning short films.
Photographing 'The Migrant Boat Pond' by Banksy
Photographing Banksy’s ‘The Migrant Boat Pond’

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Get OUt of DebtAbove left: Close up of models in one of the pond’s migrant boats. Above right: A reworking of a traditional Punch & Judy puppet show written by Julie Burchill, with additional cast Crocodile, PC. PC and Goddess Kali. Ironically this was the only attraction that was not suitable for children – but then neither is the traditional version. It is about violence and abuse of women and children.

Left and below: Part of a series entitled ‘Childhood Gone Wrong’ by USA artist Darren Cullen. Below is a queue for Pocket Money Loans. A comment on high interest loan shark companies that target innocent people. This is really a souvenir shop. Just have a look at the 5000% interest rate.

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'Seagull attacks woman' by Banksy. With depleted fish stocks gulls have been attacking tourists, especially if they have take-out food. Dismaland staff job discription demands being as miserable and unhelpful as possible.
‘Seagull attacks woman’ by Banksy.

Banksy may have been getting lessons from taxidermist Polly Morgan here.  With depleted fish stocks gulls have been attacking tourists, especially if they have take-out food. Dismaland staff must have had job descriptions to be as miserable and unhelpful as possible. They were actually very funny.

Children enjoyed the park. Here some young ones play on a helicopter crashed on a mini golf course. Balls were easily lost on the crazy course.
Here some young ones playing on a helicopter crashed onto a mini golf course, with an oil spill in the back ground.
Getting chilly: Visitors wait at the “Jeffrey Archer Memorial Fire Pit.” Each day one of his novels is ceremonially burned.

That’s it for now. I shall update this post when I have time to create a new site about Art. It will contain photos of Damien Hirst’s Pickled Unicorn, Severija Inčirauskaitė-Kriaunevičienė’s embroidered cars, Jessica Harrison’s Tattooed Porcelain Dolls and Jimmy Cauty’s Aftermath Dislocation Principle model village – to name just a few artists featured at Dismaland.

Dismaland – Reply to Banksy & Co

Sunbathing on the beach
Sunbathing on the beach
Bookshop/cafe closure notice
Bookshop/cafe closure notice

Much as I love Southampton, which has some wonderful positive things to offer cruise ship tourists (which I shall get around to writing about more – I am usually a positive person) these are some snaps from my home city in support of Banksy’s Dismaland.

All photos © Southampton old lady

If you have not heard of Dismaland then please do an image search online. This is a ‘bemusement’ park that has been opened up in South-West England, for six weeks, by a group of 59 British artists including: Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer, Jimmy Cauty, Bill Barminski, Caitlin Cherry, Polly Morgan, Josh Keyes, Mike Ross, David Shrigley, Bäst, and Espo… headed by Banksy. Actors (as disgruntled security guards and staff) and writers have also been employed (Julie Birchill re-wrote a macabre Punch & Judy script).

Homeless youth under The Bargate of Southampton's Medieval wall.
Homeless youth under The Bargate of Southampton’s Medieval wall.

The Tropicana swimming resort in Weston-super-Mare, a one-time holiday-haven, has been turned into an anarchistic statement about Western capitalism – A Disneyland gone wrong.

Banksy hails from near-by Bristol. He possibly recalls as a child, summer days on the sands and pier at Weston-Super-Mare, which have deteriorated now. The type of British family that used to spend their holiday here, no longer have money for resorts. Pictures like this can be found at tourist areas throughout Europe. In London, visitors are sad not to meet people like characters from Downton Abbey.

But don’t book £3 tickets on the Dismaland website, or you will just be trolled. The project highlights the down-side of Britain emulating USA-style boom and bust financial strategies. Our boom from the 1990s sub-prime-type/hedge-funding and such, burst its bubble in 2008. Although the Government has announced that the Country is now “doing well” – giving themselves generous pay-rises; people argue that these strategies have little way of ‘trickling down’ any benefit to the common people. There is also a sense of childhood loss, a feeling of being cheated by the false promises of a fairytale with a happy ending.

Health lottery advertisement shines bright in bad weather outside Waitrose (a middle class supermarket)
Health lottery advertisement shines bright in bad weather outside Waitrose (an up-market supermarket)
The Royal Pier, which burnt down in the 1970s.
The Royal Pier in Southampton has not been repaired since it burnt down in the 1970s.
Closer view of the pier.
Closer view of the pier.
Prickly Justice
Prickly Justice
Northam Bridge Graffiti
Northam Bridge Graffiti
River Itchen cycle path - west side
River Itchen cycle path – west side
Please return your shopping trolley
Please return your shopping trolley
Riverside apartments (or they could be)
Riverside apartments (or it could be)
Site of television studios - build here please.
Brown site that used to be television studios – build homes here please.
Itchen River from Roman East site
Itchen River from Roman East-side
Council allowed 'graffiti' to encourage cycling complete with chewing gum spots.
Council allowed ‘graffiti’ to encourage cycling. Complete with chewing gum spots.
The sky line
The sky line
Memorial bench at victoria Country Park looking out on Southampton Water
Memorial bench at Royal Victoria Country Park looking out on Southampton Water
Sunbathing II at the waterfront
Sunbathing II at the waterfront
Park restrictions: Do not pass go... Different signs for English and Polish speakers.
Park restrictions: Different signs for different languages
A traditional pub closes every day.
A traditional pub closes every day.
Shirley Park Hotel - closed
Shirley Park Hotel – closed
Tanning salon at what was once the Regent Cinema
Tanning salon at what was once the Regent Cinema
Beauty Parlours in the hope of a change to feel better.
Beauty Parlours offer hope of a change to feel better. Not something I could afford or want.
Jonas Nichols Square (he gave his name to Nicholstown) in the morning.
Jonas Nichols Square (he gave his name to Nicholstown) in the morning.
Where I used to buy vegetables when Kingsland Market was closed.
Where I used to buy vegetables when Kingsland Market was closed.
off-licence in residential area
Late off-licence in residential area
Fly-tipped computer desk in green area
Fly-tipped computer desk in green area
Keep out of here. (Ministry of Defence).
Keep out of here. (Ministry of Defence).
Loose paving slabs all over the City centre - watch your step.
Loose paving slabs all over the City centre – watch your step.
Unfortunate name but yes. Isis 'gentlemans' club - in Southampton's High Street (Above Bar).
Unfortunate name but yes. Isis ‘Gentleman’s’ club – in Southampton’s High Street (Above Bar).
For Your Eyes Only - mens lap dance club on the QE2 Mile
For Your Eyes Only – another club for men (table-dancing) on the QE2 Mile
English Heritage Listed II street with Police car.
Grade II Listed street with house cordoned off for drugs bust.
Empty commerce
Empty commerce
The Cricket Pavilion
The cricket pavilion in a park where cricket is not allowed
A reminder of the Banksy murial that was removed in Southampton
A reminder of the Banksy mural’ that was removed in Southampton

You may also want to look at this YouTube video of buskers Phat Bollard performing ‘Millionaires’ in Southampton High Street (contains swearing): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhQBAu0Yypk

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/phatbollard. Downloads can be found at Bandcamp: http://phatbollard.bandcamp.com.