Some of the homeless photos travelling south to north
1: Sunderland Point to Half-Moon Bay
The spilt water revived it all,
flowed into its desiccation
the exiles choice, the space, the freedom
its air breathed again[i] . . .
Sunderland Point & village from Bazil Point, 4th June 2022
Sunderland Old Hall, Sunderland – the Ghost & Mrs Muir connection, June 2nd 2022
Less than a mile from the southernmost tip of land known as Sunderland Point, Sunderland Old Hall dates from 1683. This is the house which on first sight reminded my friend now living in the village, of The Ghost and Mrs Muir[ii].
From First Terrace, Sunderland – 25th January 2022
In about 1720, Lancaster merchants began to build the first port for the city here . . . but having road access limited by high tide was problematic. In 1787, Glasson, further upstream on the opposite bank of the Lune, superseded Sunderland. Such pillars as the one shown above may only be an old form of aggrandizing street furniture, but cannot help but possess significance – or is that a remnant of my being influenced by Paul Nash at an early age?[iii]
Uncovered tidal road to Sunderland Point, 14th March 2022
Rising tide, 2nd June 2022
Reading Lancaster Civic Society’s leaflet 9[iv] reveals another – albeit slight – overlap with the The Ghost and Mrs Muir: Sunderland reinventing itself from the late 18th Century as a holiday destination “with two inns and a bathing machine”. Landscape-wise however, Sunderland bears no relation to the settings of either Josephine Leslie’s original book[v], or the 1947 Hollywood film[vi] and as a resort, was soon ousted by Blackpool which began to develop after the railway reached it in 1846, and later in the 19th Century, Morecambe[vii].
Tidal road from Overton to Sunderland Point, 2nd April 2022
The road just down the hill from Overton, 20th May 2022
From Lades marsh above, where the road has become an arm of the sea, if you swing right, both Heysham 1 and 2 nuclear power stations become visible to contaminate the scene. On the 20th May a swan was gliding the glittering waters of the creeks – serene foreground to a toxic background. After K suggested entitling the resulting photo Beauty and the Beasts, I might have included it – until recognising how both image and satirical title might mollify the hostile stance anyone with sense should maintain against nuclear power?
Overton Memorial Hall 2nd April 2022
Buses go no further than the turnaround point at Overton. 2nd April 2022, with Ukrainian flag.
Back on the coast, Shorefields Caravan Park, 2nd April 2022
Striking into a conversation with a woman intently trying to keep her dog off some washed-up, unrecognisable carcass – sheep or sea-creature or even some leftover being from Edmund Glasby’s Weird Shadow Over Morecambe[viii] – I was surprised to learn that in all her years of spending “as much time as possible” at the “so friendly, family-owned,” Shorefields Caravan Park, excepting windblown spray, the sea had not seriously breached this low shoreline. Somehow, this good fortune doesn’t seem set to last . . .
The original Middleton Towers perhaps? to the right with Heysham 2’s nuclear threat in the left distance, April 2022
Further north up the beach, one of the few surviving remnants[ix] of Middleton Towers Holiday Camp[x] is faintly protected by three tiers of gabions[xi]. According to an elderly man I met who’s been staying at Ocean Edge Caravan Park (part of which nestles beneath Heysham 2) since he was 16, the council virtually gave these buildings to an eager purchaser – on condition that he shored them up against the sea.
“What happened?” I asked.
“It, skint him!” was the humorously laconic reply.
Ye Olde Farm House, circa 1970
Has the group of towers shown in my 2022 photo only survived as an excuse to retain the name? The highest tower is just visible over the roof of Ye Olde Farm House, the holiday camp’s “Tudor-style” pub in this late 60s/early70s postcard[xii] above.
Here is the same group of buildings in 2021, trees and grass eradicated, atmosphere drastically altered. The angle is too low for the tower to show. Almost every other trace of the holiday camp has vanished[xiii].
Another early 70s postcard view
The S.S. Berengaria in its heyday
“In 1975 the Berengaria was transformed into a club with tables and chairs replacing the old theatre seating….supposedly as a way to increase alcohol sales. The following year the venue was used to host the annual televised Miss Great Britain finale.
The camp closed at the end of 1994 and the site was sold the following year to Creston Land & Estates who had plans to refurbish and reopen it. Unfortunately, this came to nothing and shortly afterwards planning permission was granted to turn the site into a Category C medium security prison. Due to strong local opposition this never came to fruition either” [xiv].
Before demolition in 2005 – from the Abandoned Britain website[xv]
Shirley Anne Field turns away from the view over Middleton Towers Holiday Camp on the top deck of the S.S. Berengaria in a freeze frame (at about 1hr 5mins) from The Entertainer (1960)[xvi]
Middleton Towers, from a 1972 sales brochure
Not the original, cheerful-looking holiday camp but a poshed-up gated community of doubtful value. The site is still slowly being developed, 2nd April 2022
A 60s camper’s ball of some kind . . . but what ARE some of the dancers wearing, I dread to ask?
A new building rises in the gated community – as seen from the beach. It won’t take a 25-metre sea-level rise to finish it off, 10 metres should do it nicely. 2nd April 2022
Middleton Towers ruin 2nd April 2022
Ocean Edge Holiday Park 2nd April 2022
Ocean Edge Holiday Park, 2nd April 2022. Promotional brochures[xvii] tend to carefully omit Heysham 2’s nuclear installation just over the fence at its northern end . . .
Trimpell 2 BSP Substation, April 2022
2nd April 2022
The Parish Hall in Middleton had classes covering “all aspects of dance and gymnastics” for children and teenagers, as well as the Middle Inn pub downstairs simultaneously. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong moment to sit outside for a pint of Lancaster Red: changeover time at the dance studio. But eventually all the ferrying cars buzzed off, the doors closed, and things calmed down.
Despite an imposing exterior, GG Exports, purport to specialise in harmless antiques[xviii], April 2022
“the nuclear mess beyond, those two ominous illuminated blocks . . .”[xix] 19th July 2020
If encountering Atomic Achievement (1956), about the first nuclear power station at Calder Hall[xx] was like “watching toddlers play with broken glass”[xxi], then 1947’s The Beginning or the End[xxii] is still more alarming. An opening narrator considers his age “the most enlightened in all history. And yet . . .” A very crucial proviso!
“The research, development, and deployment of the first atomic bomb, as well as the bombing of Hiroshima[xxiii], are detailed in this docudrama.” But above all, The Beginning or the End is a festival, a platinum jubilee of money-burning hubris. If pride comes before a fall then this film inadvertently captures human pride off the scale, critical, radioactive . . . And we’ve been in a tailspin ever since. At several points, there are long sentimental homilies to the hard work and sacrifice of all the scientists and workers developing the bomb for its use against the Axis[xxiv] powers (“we gotta get it before they do” – or words to that effect). Though it’s thankful that Hitler didn’t acquire nuclear weapons, The Beginning or the End only expends passing moments and the odd grave look on the potential dangers of the atomic bomb. If only all that time, money and effort could have been invested in something worthwhile!
19th July 2020
The barely suppressed sense of glory at the sheer destructive power of these “most fearful weapons ever forged by man” as registered in The Beginning or the End, is staggering. Later, we are given the idealistic soft sell for nuclear power: “In peace time, atomic energy could be used to bring about a golden age, such an age of prosperity and well-being as the world has never known.” How they could have the nerve to script such utter cobblers is nothing less than dumbfounding. “Atomic energy is the hand He [they mean God] has extended, to lift us from the ruins of war and lighten the burdens of peace.” Presumably, they really believed this! Along with the space race, can there ever have been such a huge waste of resources carried out so optimistically? In truth, the list of candidates for such an accolade is probably very long.
The two power stations loom above Trumacar school and an upmarket housing estate at the edge of Heysham – a nuclear complex “unbelievably situated given that prevailing winds must blow any leaks straight across the schools, housing estates and heavily populated urban areas adjoining.”[xxv] 1st March 2022
“LAST SHOP BEFORE FERRIES” Trumacar Lane, 17th May 2022
On route to the Isle of Man and Ireland, with a rush of airbrakes, drivers of vast lorries often slur onto the pavement to halt at this ‘convenience store’. Perhaps its ad hoc look provides some last-minute mental relief in advance against the institution of ship-bound, duty-free outlets?
Ferries travel to Douglas (Isle of Man), Belfast, Dublin and Warrenpoint – the Irish routes chiefly freight only[xxvi].
Caged for export and import, 19th July 2020
Delamere Avenue on the Trumacar Estate, lies in the deadly shadow of Heysham’s two nuclear installations[xxvii] – hidden in this shot by the right-hand terrace, 22nd March 2022
Trumacar Estate 22nd March 2022
Near Haze Lighthouse, Heysham Port, 19th July 2020
Heysham Port, 19th July 2020
Heysham 2 (left) and 1 nuclear power stations across Half Moon Bay, 9th February 2022
Better to go back 60 years and the heyday of Middleton Holiday Camp by double decker:
Vintage Bus Day, Morecambe, Heysham and Carnforth, May 22nd, 2022
Between the radioactivity[xxx] and the sewage[xxxi], personally, I wouldn’t swim anywhere in the vicinity of Morecambe and Heysham, but if you like feeling queasy or glowing in the dark, the choice is yours.
© Lawrence Freiesleben
Cumbria and Morecambe, May-June 2022
NOTES All notes accessed between April and May 2022
[i] From Behind the Sun, see the Qutub Minar Review, April 2022: https://www.lulu.com/en/gb/shop/som-/qutub-minar-review/paperback/product-qm8gee.html?page=1&pageSize=4
[ii] See parts 1 & 2 of this digression:
[viii] See parts 1 & 2 of this digression:
See also: https://www.fantasticfiction.com/g/edmund-glasby/weird-shadow-over-morecambe.htm
And this, for some of the now vanished ruins
[x] https://www.lancs.live/news/lancashire-news/gallery/lost-gem-pontins-middleton-tower-18329417 “This 65-acre camp was opened in 1939 by Harry Kamiya, a successful Blackpool businessman who owned a number of amusement concessions around the country. He had grand visions to build a large camp to accommodate 3,000 people to rival Butlins, but the war intervened, and his full plans were never realized. After being requisitioned for wartime use the camp was handed back and in 1949 be built the ‘SS Berengaria’ a huge 2000-seat theatre built in the style of an ocean liner.” The full text can be seen here: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/863354191058774120/
[xii] For more wonderful postcards see: https://www.flickriver.com/photos/trainsandstuff/sets/72157648701648397/
[xiii] See this optimistic sales talk:
[xix] From: Bombed Out (in Morecambe), November 2021
Isle of Man ferry port symbol, 19th July 2020 (with Celeste)
[xxvii] “On 15 August 2019, Reactor 8 inside Heysham 2 let off a large amount of steam, with banging noises at approximately 11 pm that could be heard 7 miles (11 km) away in Lancaster. This caused alarm among local residents, and numerous calls to the police reporting “gunshots”. EDF later reported that a reactor had earlier experienced a “non-planned shutdown after an electrical fault”, and the noise was from the re-start process”. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heysham_nuclear_power_station but whatever can be hushed up about nuclear power will always be.