A mix of dead ends and directionless beginnings

“I walk to Black Rock whenever I visit my sister in Hove. The walk takes me past the busy beaches and commerce, and once past Brighton Pier things get increasingly quiet until I reach a kind of ending at Black Rock.

Culture from bottom up
Here, the graffiti-smothered walls give me hope that culture continues to grow from the bottom-up and is not only imposed from the top-down. This thought is encouraged by the fact that the council have contributed a little skateboard park, as if in an endorsing response to a subculture’s intuitive claim on the site.

The Marina
The Marina – that here blocks what might once have been the clear way on to the now almost obscured white cliffs beyond – is a huge carbuncle of absurd and tasteless 80’s entrepreneurial excess. It’s gross and grotesque and elitist, and yet even here, late at night, the multi-storey car-park has its charms as a piece of severe and brightly-lit and colourfully detailed concrete brutality.

Volks Railway
It’s good to walk out on the breakwater too, and feel the extra breeze or see a yacht putting in from who knows where. Then I stroll back down another of Brighton’s amazingly over-wide avenues, past the Volks station, the closed-down ‘rotten-apple’ children’s roller-coaster and the fishing boats.

Wild and bare
All along this strip the beach is more wild and bare than anywhere else in Brighton and Hove, and that’s the main reason to like it. It’s a great shame that the Marina so thoughtlessly puts an end to this trajectory and in a way closes in this sense of wildness. But, as I say, everything has its charms and uses when looked at in the right way, or on the right day.

A kind of non-place
Black Rock is a strange mix of dead ends and directionless beginnings; it’s kind-of unofficial and unidentified, a kind-of non-place (to use a trendy phrase); and that’s just why it suits those who feel themselves to be nowhere, and who don’t mind that feeling one bit.”

Comments about this page

  • I agree that Black Rock is a poorly defined nowhere – limited access, once past Duke’s Mount, sees to this. Did you know that, at low tide, one could see masonry humps on top of the black rocks. They followed the line of Volks’ railway and were an unsuccessful attempt to extend the little railway over the water to Rottingdean.

    By Andrew Holmes-Siedle (26/11/2005)
  • I have to agree with what has been said, when people were petitioning against the building of the marina, I was serving in the Royal Air Force. I personnaly spent many happy hours night and day fishing off the old Black Rock Groyne, and remember the the old concrete footings at low tide very well, as we used to go on the rocks to collect all the broken fishing tackle for leads and hooks, happy memories.

    By Paul Fleet (26/10/2009)
  • Most years lately I have returned to Blackrock and never cease grieving my childhood Blackrock of the ’50s. The swimming pool and beach below, and the wildness of the groyne and cliff walks where in high tide and winter, one could be drenched by the upcoming waves. What a shame…people should have been marching in protest. The Marina is so ugly…in contrast to the beautiful wildness of the rock pools and their creatures, and the beaches of my childhood.

    By Linda George (01/10/2012)

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