18 December 2009

Boscombe beach pods, Bournemouth

I had been fascinated by the popularity of beach huts in Australia and Britain, and wrote up a history of the humble huts with a sense of nostalgia. It seemed inevitable that the huts, so hugely popular after WW1, would never increase in number and could well decrease.

Overstrand Building, with pods to both sides of the central facilities

Now an alternative has been brought to my attention. Retro-style beach pods offering panoramic views across Bournemouth's artificial surf reef appeared for the first time in the BBC News in April 2009. 400+ people registered interest in buying the lovely pods within the Boscombe Overstrand complex. Boscombe Blog was of course very excited about the new lease of life for the area. Half of the pods will be sold on a 25-year lease, with the remaining pods will be reserved for casual hire from the council.

Pod interior

Proleno Blog noted that Wayne and Geraldine Hemingway were commissioned by Bournemouth Borough Council to revive the dilapidated 1958 Overstrand building and Grade II listed Boscombe Pier of 1889. Not surprisingly, seaside regeneration was always one of the favourite goals of the Hemingways. You can see that the centre of the Overstrand will be the public areas: shops, restaurant and surf school. On each wing, to the left and right, stretch the rows of pods.

A single beach pod will cost a fortune (£90,000) but unlike the old beach huts, will have mains electricity, hot and cold running water, kitchen units and French doors leading onto a small private balcony overlooking the beach, but no fridges. To prevent people sleeping overnight in the pods, power will be switched off at night. Each pod has one wall that is a piece of retro, coastal art in its own right.

Boscombe has indeed reinvented the beach hut.


Andrew said...

Would power going off really stop people living in them?

Hels said...

It is a bit strange, if you ask me. Who are they worried about? Not the wealthy families who can afford £90,000 for a pod. Perhaps their drunken layabout teenage children, down from university for the holidays. In which case, they won't give a toss about not having a fridge at night. If it is a fear of outsiders breaking in and sleeping in a clean spot, then it is a security issue!

I am very glad they renovated both the Overstrand building and the Boscombe Pier. It would have been a crime to have left them decay. But goodness the pods are expensive, aren't they? It would have been much cheaper to build more of the old beach huts.

Philip Wilkinson said...

Local councils in Britain have always wanted to prevent people living in beach huts (for all kinds of reasons including the huts not having proper services - rubbish collection etc - and because residents wouldn't have an address so the council wouldn't be able to charge local taxes).

The pods are expensive, true. But so are beach huts. There are certainly plenty of people who've paid this sort of money for a wooden beach hut. Owners can charge a lot because huts are in demand and there are only so many to go around - although since the recession prices must have gone down quite a lot.