I’ve been past the new bridge at Shoreham a few times – but not yet had an occasion to cycle over it; which is what has inspired me to revive this old ride, once billed a few years back as “The Mysteries of Shoreham Beach” or something similar. I always find Shoreham a slightly odd but interesting area. Centuries ago its main part moved down the river towards the sea creating New Shoreham to complement Old Shoreham. Many newcomers to Brighton assume that the Old Shoreham Road means “the old road to Shoreham” rather than “the road to Old Shoreham.” But I digress
We’ll meet at Palace Pier take the South Basin Road past Carats Café and walk over the locks then take a variant of the signposted cycle route to Shoreham, cross the bridge and double back towards the harbour entrance and the remains of Shoreham Fort. Then we’ll go down to Widewater Lagoon nature reserve, cross the footbridge and ride carefully back along the main road until we can turn off for the airport, where we will have a lunch stop before returning to B&H via the Old Toll Bridge, back roads (and a short stretch of New Church Road) before rejoining the seafront cycle path back to our starting point.
Catering at the airport has gone up a notch since Hummingbird (named as the menus tell us after the pioneer aircraft which started it all off before World War I) took over. But one can’t book for lunch unless one has a definite number of people – I think it’s 20 – to fill one of the rooms adjacent to the main café. Obviously not possible for us.
However, we will have two kinds of insurance against going hungry. With the fairly early start we should arrive before it gets too busy and if the worst comes to the worst there are plenty of cafes, restaurants, pubs that do food and so on not too far away in the high street.
Another cheap (no trains involved) and easy ride starting at Palace Pier
Meet at Palace Pier at 10 a m (or join our merry throng en route by Marrocco’s if you live west of Palace Pier).
Terrain – as flat as you’re likely to find anywhere.
Roads. Mixture of cycle path and quiet urban roads with two short stretches of busier ones
Lunch at Shoreham Airport (but see above)
Distance c 18/19 miles Palace Pier to Palace Pier – add or subtract according to your starting point.
My mobile number is 07770743287
Some Points of Interest
Shoreham Harbour Locks
The Prince George Lock was opened in 1933 and the larger Prince Phillip one in 1958 – by the man himself.
We’ll pass by this church – being Sunday – but it’s worth a visit another time to see the various interesting features of the interior including the two-decker pulpit… There is what I believe is a tithe barn nearby which was restored a few years back after a fire
St Mary De Haura, New Shoreham (de Haura is, it’s thought, a corruption of de Havre)
This massive and impressive church is really important in architectural history. It’s usually described as “Transitional” meaning that it belongs to the period when Romanesque was beginning to give way to Gothic. Ian Nairn who covered West Sussex (only) in Pevsner’s Buildings of England devoted five and a half detailed pages to it
Shoreham Fort (aka Shoreham Redoubt or Kingston Redoubt)
After Louis Napoleon had made himself Napoleon III in the coup of 1852 there was fear in Britain that like his uncle the new emperor might be planning an invasion. Shoreham Fort incorporating the latest defensive technology was one of several “Palmerston forts” built along the south coast. It dates from 1857 and was no doubt considered timely two years later when Napoleon III’s participation in the Italian war triggered one of the most serious “war scares” of the C19. Google for more info on the fort.
The nature reserve is narrow and only about a kilometre in length. It may not be much to look at but fortunately the visiting wildlife are a bit deficient in aesthetic sensibility
The oldest licensed airport in the UK. It all started in 1910 when Harold Pifffard built and flew his Hummingbird. The Grade II * listed Art Deco building by Stavers Tiltman was opened in 1936. From the airport there is a great view of
Lancing College Chapel
A quintessentially Gothic Revival building by R H Carpenter begun in 1868
The Old Toll Bridge
As older members will remember we took part for several years in charity rides to restore the bridge. It’s another Grade II * listed structure which was the last toll bridge in operation in Sussex. It closed for motor traffic in 1968. I can remember being driven over it shortly before that.
St Nicholas, Old Shoreham
Some bits of this church are Saxon but much of it dates from c 1140
The Swiss Gardens
The pub and the pool next to it are all that remains of what was a very successful Victorian attraction. An old colleague of mine, Roy Sharp, wrote a brief history of it which you can now find online if you google Swiss Gardens, Shoreham. The memory is also preserved in the name of the local primary school and a road.