Brighton seafront in the 1950s

Impressing the tourists

By Ian Hunt

 
Photo:Banjo groyne

Banjo groyne

Photo by Tony Mould

Diving at high tide

As a teenager I lived in Kemp Town (1956/59) and the beaches either side of the Banjo Groyne were the beaches of choice for those of us locals who enjoyed swimming in the sea. I have vivid memories of those hot summer days. At high tide change we used to dive/jump from the groyne to impress the tourists, especially the girls. It looked a lot more dangerous than it really was as we made sure we were diving/jumping into the deep water pool to the east of the groyne. You had to be prepared for the rip current though - if caught by it you were carried around the groyne to the adjacent beach at a high rate of knots.

An extreme sport?

I suppose these antics might be called an extreme sport these days. All the exercise must have certainly toughened us up because I remember swimming off those same beaches late in the season, when the red flags were up. It was also a matter of pride to dash around on the pebbles wearing nothing on our feet. If you did that a lot your feet sort of got used to the hardness of the pebbles. But I still remember the unbelievable looks we got from the tourists or visitors, as they hobbled around the beach wearing sandals.

Do you remember?

Did you play on Banjo Groyne when you were a kid? Or maybe you still visit now? If you can share your memories with us, please leave a comment below.

This page was added on 17/09/2013.
Comments about this page

I too remember these beaches, and the Banjo Groyne. Most Summer Sundays back in the early 1950s my parents would take my younger brother and I down to the Bedford Street beach from our home in Channel View Road, Woodingdean. My Mother, who was the original 'Mrs Bouquet', would always say "My dear, you meet a better class of people on the beaches towards the Banjo Groyne"! However, as young boys we always found the beaches pretty boring as there was very little sand to play in, even at low tide. We would go off exploring towards the Palace Pier where all the action was (and the sand) or eastwards towards the Banjo Groyne to watch the Volks' Railway trains trundling back and forth. What a fun place Peter Pan's Playground was! It's said as a child you always remember the sunny days. How true that is! The fact is that here in the UK the decade of the 1950s we endured mostly cool summers with the exception of the brilliant summer of 1959, noted for its longevity rather than its intensity. There was one short spell, at the beginning of July, when the temperature climbed above 30 degrees celcius over a wide area, but for much of the time the heat was not extreme. The downside was the drought. The rains returned with vengeance in early October, so water shortages were averted.

By Chris Wrapson (17/09/2013)

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