Fringe Box



Seaside Is Coming To Town: But Do We Need It?

Published on: 3 Jun, 2015
Updated on: 3 Jun, 2015

In our occasional Points to Ponder column we bring you the news that this summer will see a seaside setting created in Guildford town centre. However, regular reader Bernard Parke wonders whether it is at all necessary.

The seaside's coming to town - outside the Electric Theatre.

The seaside’s coming to town – outside the Electric Theatre.

An ‘urban beach’ called Guildford-on-Sea is being created for a bit of lighthearted family fun outside the Electric Theatre between August 14 and 16 as part of the Guildford Summer Festival.

There will be deckchairs, beach entertainment and real sand. It is being billed as a place for people ‘to relax and enjoy a spot of sunshine with sand beneath their toes after a busy day at the shops’.

The beach at Selsey many years ago.

The beach at Selsey many years ago.

In his inimitable style Bernard Parke writes: “In my day we often referred to Selsey on the south coast as Guildford- on-Sea.

“For those were the days when Guildfordians spent what time they could by the sea. Indeed, many chose to retire to that area.

“Those were the halcyon days before traffic congestion, which is today strangling our roads and adding to C02 emissions.

“All that is in the past, before a week’s holiday pay was made possible for people to go to Butlin’s holiday camps and the overseas package holiday.

“However, it would seem that times have changed, for we read that in the month of August we are about to witness here in Guildford a new project which will save us from travelling on crowded roads. Outside of the Electric Theatre we will have our own special seaside entertainment.

“After a day’s heavy shopping, and paying high parking charges, we are to be invited to relax and enjoy ourselves with sand between our toes sitting on deckchairs with balloons and sheltering in beach huts in the middle of the gyratory system. What more could we ask ?”

It seems therefore that there’s one Guildfordian at least who won’t be joining in the fun. I am sure we can picture Bernard wearing a kiss me quick hat or a knotted white handkerchief on his head with his trousers rolled up.

Will the hokey pokey man be there (the name used for Victorian ice-cream sellers)? If so, we must treat Bernard to a choc ice to cool him down!

What do you think? Is a bit of Guildford-on-Sea in the middle of our town and gyratory system a good idea? Please leave a reply in the box below.

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Responses to Seaside Is Coming To Town: But Do We Need It?

  1. Adrian Atkinson Reply

    June 4, 2015 at 8:37 am

    In Paris, during the summer when locals vacate to the south coast, all along the Seine is turned into a beach – Perhaps we are not thinking big enough?

  2. Mary Bedforth Reply

    June 4, 2015 at 8:48 am

    The fumes from the gyratory traffic should add nicely to the atmosphere.

    Who thinks up these rubbish schemes? Cost??

  3. Frank Phillipson Reply

    June 4, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    Seems that its paid for by Experience Guildford who say that the project is “developed and delivered by Experience Guildford and supported by Guildford Borough Council.”

    It’s a daft idea next to four lanes of gyratory traffic! Is the Electric Theatre not needing their car park during this time?

    Apparently Experience Guildford is a “Business Improvement District (BID) where businesses come together and decide what additional improvements they want to make to THEIR town”.


    An unelected body deciding what they want!

  4. Dave Middleton Reply

    June 4, 2015 at 7:48 pm

    And of course Guildford already has its own sandy beach by the river at St Catherine’s!

    I’m all for a bit of light-hearted fun and I’m sure that that’s what this scheme will be, but I do agree with Mary Bedforth that no public money (central or local government) should be spent on this.

  5. Tim Charper Reply

    June 5, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    This sounds like a great plan to me.

    I think the town needs to connect better with the river, especially on the east bank between Debenhams and the Electric Theatre.

    These could be really popular spots for the community, but the congested streets alongside probably deter people. Just getting to them can seem daunting to some folks…

    The beach installation is not a solution, but I believe it’s a step in the right direction.

  6. Roslyn McMillan Reply

    June 5, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    It’s just a bit of fun, for goodness’ sake!

  7. Sally Parrott Reply

    June 5, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    For those who don’t know it, there is a surprisingly peaceful space by the Electric Theatre, with the river on one side, and a wisteria-covered arbour behind the theatre café bar.

    What’s more, from west, south and east the area can be accessed without crossing roads, by using underpasses and the riverside walkway. (Please don’t mention this to Guildford traffic planners in case they continue their practice of filling in underpasses and adding to Guildford’s traffic chaos.)

    Here’s hoping for good weather from 14-16 August.

  8. Amanda Masters Reply

    June 8, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    Guildford-on-Sea is a fun, free, three day event.

    Experience Guildford is bringing this event to the town to add to the reasons why families should visit Guildford this summer.

    The idea originally came from a parent focus group who made comment that by mid school holidays ideas of where to take the kids were either too few and/or too expensive.

    The beach allows families to bring their little ones to a safe environment where they can make sandcastles and enjoy some candyfloss – which is also free by the way!

    So often I read and hear complaints that the river is underused and underappreciated.

    As Ms Parrott comments above, the area by the Electric Theatre can be accessed without the need to cross busy roads and we will ensure it is well signposted for pedestrians. We want to promote the space by the river in the hope that more events will be attracted to use it in the future.

    We are working with GBC as they own the land, but I can promise that they are not spending public money on the event.

    The Experience Guildford business plan, as voted on by the retail and leisure businesses in 2012 when they elected to have a BID, means we are mandated to support and bring more events to Guildford.

    We already support the wonderful events we have already, such as the Guildford Fringe Festival, Guildford Shakespeare Company, farmers’ markets, Guildford Book Festival, Christmas lights, etc.

    In the coming weeks you will be able to vote for your favourite “Alice” shop window, vote in our Customer Service Awards and support your local independent traders; all are good for the businesses, the town as a whole and perhaps even for you if you’re a winner!

    All are initiatives that Experience Guildford organise.

    So, why not bring a beach to the town too?

    Experience Guildford looks forward to welcoming everyone to Guildford-on-Sea from August 14 to 16, 10am to 4pm. Bring your sunscreen and we’ll provide the rest.

  9. Gina Redpath Reply

    August 6, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    Goodluck with the Beach Party. Only the Brits!

  10. Hilary Godber Reply

    August 7, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    What a load of miserable moaners. I saw something similar in Lincoln and everybody loved it. It’s fun. And it’s legal. Stop whinging, buy a bucket and spade and go and enjoy yourselves.

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