Lee Turner – A Northern Lad Converted

Rottingdean Local Spotlight

This spotlight has been reproduced with the kind permission of Viva Brighton from their article on Rottingdean in their December issue

Lee and OliverI’m a northern lad, but moved to Hove with my partner Juliet in 2004, after we decided we’d like to swap our life in Leeds for a life by the sea. After our son Oliver arrived on the scene we decided to go somewhere less urban; Rottingdean fitted the bill, so we moved on in 2009. We love it, and have really integrated ourselves into the local community; for one thing I edit the village website. There’s a really tight-knit feel to the place: I know more people here than I ever did in Brighton and Hove, because once you meet someone, you see them again soon. I didn’t know that I’d like that feeling, because I was used to bigger cities, but I find I really do.

You can get whatever you need here, so there’s no reason to go outside the village too often, especially if you work here, which I do. There’s a butcher and a greengrocer and a couple of supermarkets and a good range of pubs and cafés. If you want to eat out, you can choose between Italian and French and Indian and Chinese and good old fish and chips. Of course we sometimes go to Asda at Brighton Marina, and do online shopping, but we support the local shops as much as possible, because if the High Street closed down there would be no tourists, and tourists are very important for the local economy. In a recent poll 80% of Rottingdean’s residents said they would like the Parish Council to commit to devote more time and resources to tourism.

There are plenty of reasons for tourists to come, with Rudyard Kipling’s house, the Kipling Gardens, the Grange Museum, the windmill and all those pubs and cafés. It’s rich in history, too: Rottingdean used to be a hotbed of smugglers and pirates owing to the fact that it is one of the few places on this stretch of coast where there is a break in the hills. Rottingdean is a rural village, with its own pond and green and church, but it also, of course, has a stretch of beach, and this is a great boon to the place. I swim in the sea a lot: it’s much less crowded than in Brighton or Hove.

If I had to name one problem Rottingdean had it would be that people drive through the High Street to get onto the A27. If just one lorry blocks a lane while unloading (and they often do), traffic jams can quickly build up. It’s hard to think of a way to solve this, though there have been calls for pedestrianisation of the street, or making it one-way.

We celebrate our dubious history every year, with Smugglers Night where people dress up as pirates and smugglers, and there are torchlit processions through the town, and fireworks on the beach. A lot of visitors come to watch proceedings: it’s quite a night.

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