Some years ago, someone told me that viewing
Simply Whitstable had changed the way that they now looked at
photographs and it was a direct result of all the analysis and
comment that we receive from our visitors.
Well, here we have another example of a photo
containing more than it seems at first glance... and we need to
thank Diana Suard (Paris), John Harman (British Columbia, Canada)
and Brian Smith for drawing it to our attention.
You may recall that Diana forwarded this elegant
family shot from her home in Paris.....
It was taken at West Beach in 1917 and we featured it in several
articles (including items on West Beach and Beach Fashions). Along the
way, we discussed many general aspects drawn from it. Then, John
Harman started examining the detail... and came up with some
interesting points. I'll leave you with John's explanation....
of a Breakwater
The breakwater posts in Diana's photo appear to be
made of salvaged timber from old ships.
Close observation of the left hand one, though
decayed, reveals some carved numbers at the top and what
appears to be a capital "R" at the bottom. It
was not uncommon for the tonnage to be carved in the
'head deck' beam of the cargo hold of a ship.
The other post shows a long scarf joint. This was
used to join long timbers - particularly in a keel
or keelson. There are also some 'long through
fastenings'. These have nothing to do with the
breakwater construction itself.
So, it seems that recycling was practiced on our
waterfront at the beginning of the 20th century... even if our sea
defences may have been a bit 'makeshift' by comparison with the
current day! Mind you, I reckon that there may have been a touch
of "made to measure" about those posts.... just the
right width for an outdoor sofa. However, a cushion or two
wouldn't have been a bad idea.
The practice of recycling timber has also arisen
in other comments sent the visitors book.... with regard to a
large timber pier that occupied part of the beach in front of what
is now Cushing's View. Some time ago, John Harman mentioned that
the timbers contained carved letters - confirming that they had
also originated from an old ship.
Brian Smith (Hoppers Crossing, Victoria,
Australia) elaborated on this as follows....
Colloquially known as The Horsebridge jetty or pier,
it belonged to the Whitstable Hoy & Trading Company
and it is well illustrated in Wallace Harvey's 'Merchant
Ships of Whitstable" page 118.
Wallace Harvey wrote that the pier was constructed of
timbers from the 'Herbert' in 1913 &
demolished in 1956. There was a crane on the pier, hand
operated I think. My father used to climb up that with
2-year-old me on his back & dive in.
As a kid, I recall that the pier had concrete
blocks at its base. These blocks remained for a few years after
the pier timbers had been removed. John tells me that they were
actually dismantled remains from some of the World War II