The Compass Rose

In 1854 a line opened between Kingston upon Hull and the North Sea coast. The Hull and Holderness Railway made the village of Withernsea a town, a terminus, and, in the decades that followed, a popular resort, the branch line drawing visitors from port and plain, through Keyingham, Ottringham and Patrington, villages that remained villages. A grand hotel, later to become a convalescent home, appeared shortly after work on the railway was completed, known as the Station Hotel, then the Queens Hotel, at the junction of Queen Street and Station Road. The pier followed in 1877, its beached turrets forming a seafront entrance, gating the shore. A straight line from rail to sea, a gain of 1196 feet from promenade to pier’s end: a terminus beyond the terminus, a line extended beyond the land. In 1880, 1882, 1888 and 1893, this line was broken, the pier breached and diminished by storms and storm-wrecked vessels, the last of these, the Henry Parr, shortening the pier to 50 feet. By 1903 it was gone, sea and land divided, a new wall on the front. Then wire along the waterline, the summer of 1940, one thin barbed roll stretched out on the sand. Armoured trains arrived later that year, fortifying the town and the weak cliffs to the north, laying down ditches, anti-tank blocks and pillboxes. Soon the war receded and the defences were left to themselves. The seaside resettled its visitors, threading back along the branch line, until 1964, when the passenger service was cut and the line went dead.

Withernsea, 11 May 2014

This is the first section of the second account in the East Wind series; an extract from the first account, Half-winds, appears here. You can read the full text of the third and final account, The Wind Rose, on Caught by the River. The complete texts of the East Wind series, with additional haiku, are now available in a limited edition set of three hand-stitched, hand-stamped pamphlets from Gordian Projects. Click here for more details.


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