Between Undercliff, Market Street, Norman Road and Mercatoria, you will find two lovely little rows of houses overlooking the sea, one of them called Mount Pleasant. This area belongs to the oldest part of St. Leonards-on-Sea, where James Burton and his son Decimus planned and built a new town, between Hastings and Bexhill-on-Sea.
Between Market Street and Undercliff. The area which is now the corner of Mercatoria and Norman Road was originally called Lavatoria Square and was where the washerwomen lived and worked.
Pretty little gardens. If it weren’t for Marine Court, the 1930s skyscraper in the background, you would think that time stood still.
The back side of the houses in Undercliff.
Looking east, toward Market Street.
Up the stairs, and we’ve arrived in Mount Pleasant.
Mount Pleasant, looking east. We’re now close to the Horse and Groom, our local, and it’s time for a pint or two of their finest lager.
Prominent visible in this nice area: the back side of Marine Court. The may have done the front up it a bit, for the tourists, but the back keeps looking very neglected. Such a pity. I’m sure it will not cost millions to repaint this side of the building.
Marine Court in St Leonards-on-Sea in East Sussex was constructed by South Coast (Hastings & St Leonards) Properties company. On 30 November 1936 the foundation stone was laid by Robert Holland-Martin, Chairman of the Southern Railway and the building was completed in 1938. Marine Court is fourteen storeys high, and from basement to roof, measures 170 ft/49 metres in height; east-west 416 ft/127 metres in length. When viewed from the east or west Marine Court is very tall and slender, from the beach (south) or north, the full expanse of the building dwarfs all those on the seafront. Marine Court was an early pioneer of steel-frame construction, like the earlier De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea.
The building was designed by architects Kenneth Dalgleish and Roger K Pullen, with overt references to the Cunard White-Star Line Queen Mary, which had entered commercial transatlantic service in 1936. The east end of Marine Court is shaped to imitate the curved, stacked bridge front of the Queen Mary; the eastern restaurant served to imitate the fo’c’sle deck of the ship. The south elevation is vertical, with balconies imitating the promenade deck aboard the Queen Mary. The upper stories of Marine Court are stepped-in from those beneath, like the superstructure of a ship, those beneath like the immense hull of a liner. The ground floor shop frontages were black, the external walls of Marine Court were painted white.
Marine Court was damaged at its eastern end by bombing during the Second World War and restoration of the building took place in 1949-1950. The uniformity and clarity of the design of Marine Court has been blunted over time, with replacement windows and glazing-in of balconies in a haphazard manner blurring the vision of the architects. The general condition of the exterior has suffered from the sea air and general neglect; the shop fronts on the ground floor have had their external finishing altered and changed. The building was awarded Grade-II listing status in 1999.