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Home sweet home town Home sweet home town
by Asa Butcher
2007-03-24 10:29:10
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Bognor Regis is a large seaside town on the south coast of England and is infamous for being the butt of countless jokes over the past 70 years. The town is primarily known for being among the alleged last words of King George V, who supposedly declared to his physician, “Bugger Bognor!” The town is regularly at the top of the UK’s sunshine chart, has a Butlins holiday resort and seems to have an average age of 80.

Yes, Bognor Regis is my home town and this brings the natural love/hate relationship that is associated with all home towns. From a safe distance of 2,500km I can enjoy the delights of the town in which I grew up and overlook the reasons that motivated me to get out of Dodge as fast as possible. My parents still live in a suburb of Bognor Regis, so I still return once in a while to note the changes and see if the average age has dropped – 78 on good days.

Along with return visits I also like to stop by the website of the town’s local paper, the Chichester Observer, and catch up on the exciting events of home. Well, ‘exciting’ is a strong word in an age of terrorism, climate change, global politics, war, famine and billion dollar deals – let’s use quaint. It was one of these occasional visits that encouraged me to write this article after reading that members of the South East Regional Design Panel are considering their assessment and recommendations about a £100m scheme to revitalise Bognor Regis town centre.

According to the article, “The plans are being considered in relation to overall design and architectural style, the integration of the proposed development with existing buildings, landscaping and access and safety.” At first I thought, ‘Wow! £100m is a lot of money!” but after some consideration I thought, “£100m…is that enough?” Bognor Regis has been one of those towns to suffer from an aged town council that would rather not build anything noisy and expensive for the youth when new turf on the bowling green would suffice.

Such is the reputation of Bognor Regis that the IRA bombed the High Street back in 1993 and very few people could see a difference, plus the repairs were made for about £100. Okay, I jest but that is the fun of a home town, especially one as iconic as Bognor Regis, home to the first World Clown Convention outside of the USA and host of the annual Birdman in which contestants attempt to fly the furthest off the town’s crumbling pier.

Bognor has had many chances over the past two decades to stamp its authority as a première seaside holiday resort but this has never been a desired goal. Instead it is a première retirement destination (my parents excluded…for now) and has one of the highest zimmer frame per square metre ratios in the country, which, considering its rival Bournemouth a few miles down the coast, is a remarkable achievement.

I love Bognor Regis and will defend its naff reputation and kitsch appeal against any outsider’s envious criticism, although growing up in that town does teach you to be able to laugh at yourself. It is, to use an earlier word, exciting to read that Bognor Regis will be the beneficiary of £100m of revitalising investment and I look forward to witnessing for myself how the money has been spent. I just hope that it is invested wisely, changing ‘Bugger Bognor’ into a ‘Better Bognor’.


    
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Resident of Bognor2007-03-24 19:10:27
I'll beleive it when I see it. We've heard it all before. £100 mill for a new crematorium!


Other resident of Bognor2007-03-24 19:17:09
100 million!! they have the decimel point in the wrong place.


Angry resident of Bognor2007-03-24 22:02:17
They are pulling down my favourite pub.


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