Nostalgia and Saudade: Remembering Places of the Past

Sometimes, you just miss a decent cuppa! Nostalgia does that to you.

You just can’t get a brew like a proper British cuppa abroad, can you? Sure, the sunshine’s lovely, and the sangria ain’t bad either, but there’s something about a nice strong cuppa with a biscuit that hits the spot, you know?

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good sunny adventure! But sometimes you just fancy taking a moment and having a trip down memory lane; revisit places that you remember from your childhood.

Things like walking along a promenade with a newspaper full of fish and chips or hiding in little shop doors as you wait for the classic British rain to dry off—there’s a reason we Brits moan so much about the weather—it’s because deep down, we secretly love it!

Sadly, in the UK, many of the places that we remember have changed so much since we last visited. For example, with the announcement of the classic UK holiday village Pontins in Southport closing its doors following the closures of both the Camber Sands and Prestatyn villages in 2022, it feels as though the physical reminders of our memories are slowly disappearing.

Despite losing some of our iconic locations and landmarks, with the magic that is AI, we are fortunately able to visualise what these places would look like today if they were still standing. Chums took advantage of this impressive tool and used it to envision five of the UK’s most nostalgic lost landmarks.

Surprisingly, one of these visualisations made me feel a little sentimental, as it depicted the once-infamous Margate Jetty!

James Walvin claims in his book ‘Beside the Seaside’ that a Margate has had at least one form of landing jetty as early as 1800. Margate Jetty itself was built in 1824. This first iteration was crafted from wood and was then named ‘Jarvis Landing Stage’; this iteration of the jetty was only accessible at low tides and was frequently damaged and needed repairs. It was in November of 1851 that a storm broke the Jetty in two separate places, prompting the decision that a new jetty would be needed to replace the wooden one.

Eugenius Birch, a famous 19th-century English seaside architect, started work on a new design in 1853. In 1855, Margate unveiled the world’s first-ever iron seaside pier, and work was officially completed in 1857, with several additions being added in the following years.

Despite this much stronger structure, the Jetty was still not impervious to the extreme weather of the sea, and in January of 1877, the pier was severed in half by a shipwreck driven by a storm! This incident left 40 to 50 people trapped on the seaward half of the broken Jetty, where they were rescued the following day. There are no known reports of deaths or serious injuries caused by this incident, and the Jetty was repaired once more and remained open nearly a century later, closing in 1977 to safety grounds.

The Jetty remained standing for another year before being almost destroyed entirely by a storm in January 1978. Its skeletal remains stood for a further twenty years before being properly dismantled in 1998.

To this day, pieces of the old jetty continue to wash up on the beach, and many relics of Margate Jetty can be found in the Margate Museum.

The loss of landmarks cannot always be helped, as was the case with the Margate Jetty, but many of our histories are lost due to development. This loss of history can create a sense of Saudade, a longing for something absent. Despite the often good intentions for modernising, it can often feel like they are ripping out a page from your own life story!

Progress, they call it. But sometimes progress feels like losing a bit of yourself, a bit of your history, wouldn’t you say? It makes you long for a time travel machine just to spend an afternoon flicking through the rails of Liverpool’s Littlewoods building or choosing a classic pick ‘n’ mix from your local Woolworths without having to worry about the price tag!

Are there any local landmarks that you wish still stood? Perhaps an old theatre that is long gone or a railway line that no longer runs. Share which lost landmarks you’d love to see brought to life again with AI using #VisionsOfTomorrowUK.

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