I WOULD like to echo the sentiments of A Thorburn featured in the Observer’s letters page last week.
At the moment, it’s as if St Leonards literally doesn’t exist as a place of interest as far as the council is concerned.
Pick up an official tourist map from the desk of the Tourist Information Centre (TIC) in town and you will see what I mean. The map covers the area westwards from the Old Town but stops at the pier.
Wouldn’t a visitor to the Jerwood at the very least want to know about the existence of the art galleries in Norman Road or Banksy’s work on the beach?
While on the subject, why doesn’t Burtons’ St Leonards, the suburb which housed the likes of Disraeli, Thomas Carlyle and Rider Haggard, warrant its own TIC?
In Hastings House, the excellent Zanzibar and the amazing St Benedict, we have three of the best places to stay in the town. In the Taj Mahal, St Clements and Relax, we have three of the best restaurants.
If we ever managed to rebuild the pier, I can see a bright future for the town’s tourism. A visitor may start at the Old Town and the Jerwood, perhaps take a rickshaw or hire a bike to ride to the pier, take a boat trip off the end ot view the coast from the country park to the De La Warr, have tea at Smiths or the Little Larden, maybe visit the only swimming pool in the country with a removable rood, built on the site of the old lido at West St Leonards, take a moment to wander round St Leonards Gardens and finally, watch the sun go down with cocktails at Azur.
But if this scenario is ever to come about the council needs to establish marketing policies which appreciate that our town is in fact three towns strung together.
As a resident of 20 years, I have lost count of the number of people I have shown around St Leonards, genuinely gobsmacked at the quality of our architecture, who were previously unaware that St Leonards even existed.
As a start, how about large signs on either side of the railway bridge by the old Stamco site saying something like: “You are now entering/leaving St Leonards - Burton’s Architectural Jewel on the South Coast”?