St Leonards Marine Parade

Come sail your ships around me

To be fair, this is a picture of St Leonard’s Beach, bereft of people due to the incumbent storm. Marine Court is so dominant, once the tallest residential building in all of Great Britain. I shall come back to the Sid Little designed seafront another time.

Marine Court is a Grade II (1999) listed Art Deco building modelled on the White Star Line’s Queen Mary. Completed in 1938, it is 49 metres tall and 127 metres long. It is built using, at the time pioneering modern steel frame construction – as used in skyscrapers to this day.

The West end suffered bomb damage in WWII and part of the building is now exposed brick. That is a story in itself, it was a flying bomb that was actually hit by Anti Aircraft fire, and dived off course into the nearby St Leonards church, destroying it. It actually whizzed up the road before exploding. Thankfully the church was empty and there were no casualties. At the time, Marine Court was occupied by troops, who were having a dance when the bomb exploded. Despite damage to the building, no one was hurt there either.

The building is looking a little unloved now, but actually the freehold is now owned by residents after massive neglect by the previous owner. There is a plan in place for restoration – especially as the building comes up to its 80th birthday.

I found this postcard which coincidentally has a similar view to my photograph. The architecture in that view is exactly as it was in 1938. Most of which, the new seafront was designed by Sid Little. The only new addition is the safety rail on the sun terrace, and it looks like the beach level is raised.

Marine Court postcard

PDF booklet about the history of Marine Court

There’s a great PDF booklet about Marine Court here:

Marine Court booklet (PDF)

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