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Marine Court rear view © JJ Waller

Marine Court rear view © JJ Waller

Meet St Leonards twin: San Juan in Puerto Rico

Photographer and St Leonards’ fan, JJ Waller finds a psychogeographical twin town…

They are not as unlikely bedfellows as might first appear as they each host one of the world’s most famous Art Deco buildings. More than that they were both designed to look like Ocean Liners. Marine Court (HMS Queen Mary) completed in 1937 one hundred years after the death of  St Leonards founder James Burton and the Hotel Normandie (the SS Normandie), which began construction a year later, although it didn’t open its 173 luxury bedrooms until 1942. Marine Court was the United Kingdom’s tallest residential block, the 153 flats being serviced by restaurants, a ballroom and a private tunnel to the beach, but had no comparable facilities to match the Normandie’s Voodoo Room.

In their heyday both buildings were fabulously successful, one survived World War two bombing, the other Hurricane Georges (1998). Latterly both fell into disrepair. Currently the The Normandie is boarded up and has been for several years, whereas the Marine Court freehold has been bought by the majority of residents and is undergoing a five year renovation programme. The new maintenance charges, however, at around £300 per month are cripplingly high for many.

Both buildings are protected by law. One is a National Monument, the other Grade Two Listed.

Youtube and Wikipedia have lots more  information about both buildings and Marine Court resident and writer Ian Sinclair has a great 2010 feature on them at the Guardian Newspaper web site.

Posted 22:47 Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 In: 1067 & All That

Also in: 1067 & All That

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