WE’VE been contacted by local historian Elizabeth Gale after seeing the News article about the new coastal café at West Bexington.
This is what she remembers:
“As a little girl aged about four, before the Second World War (late 1930s) I recall visits to West Bexington with my father.
“We lived in Burton Bradstock and he was a farmer dealing in cattle, pigs and poultry. Through the season (May to November) he also bought fish, mainly mackerel, sprats and herring, straight from the fisherman along the Chesil Beach from Seaton to Abbotsbury in particular.
“Most of the fishermen were full time and earned their entire living from fishing with a Seine net. The fish were sold on to outlets inland in Crewkerne, Ilminster, Chard and Yeovil.
“On our visits to West Bexington I recall the smart café and a swimming pool. The pool I remember was in front of the Club House but it was not an Olympic size one. It was dry and had a blue lining and white tiles. My father told me that it had ‘broken its back’ which always confused me.
“As well, I remember that all along the clear higher area from the Bull Inn at Swyre, past the Manor House down to the beach were plots marked out and fenced individually ready for the development there which was halted by the war. Over the years until building began in the 1950s/60s the wire fencing remained in place but rusting and collapsing.
“In those years I was running a riding and trekking centre at Burton Bradstock and we did a day ride with a dozen or more ponies to West Bexington along the back of the beach where the remains of the old track, originally the only way along the coast by fishermen and workmen, was still usable.
“In the 18th and early 19th centuries men would walk from Burton Bradstock to Portland to work in the quarries. They set off about 4am from Burton on a Monday morning, lived in huts at Portland during the week and walked back on Saturday afternoons.
“When we rested at West Bexington with the ponies for lunch we let them graze on an overgrown concrete patch on the east side of the lane.
“I wonder now if this was the base of a larger swimming pool or something to do with the army who were stationed there during the war.
“I have happy memories of those carefree childhood days spent so much on the beach and later with all the girls and ponies in my busier days.”