Dovercourt Travel Guide

  • Warners, Dovercourt Bay - 1953
    Warners, Dovercourt Bay - 1953
    by arturowan
  • A real happy camper - 1973
    A real happy camper - 1973
    by arturowan
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Dovercourt Things to Do

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    The real Warners - 1953 4 more images

    by arturowan Updated Mar 18, 2014

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    If you're a fan of the quintessential English sitcom, 'Hi-De-Hi', then no visit to Harwich is complete without spotting some of the filming locations that the area provided, in disguise as Crimpton-0n-Sea (deliberately invented to sound alike nearby, Clacton-0n-Sea, where a Butlins camp was located...)
    Sadly, the actual Warner's holiday camp, where the series took place, is no more, having been razed after completion of the final series & turned into a rather dowdy, mobile home park...
    If you want to see where it was, the real camp, & site of the fictional 'Maplins', then go along the sea wall to Dovercourt, where the beach huts end, where you'll find a footpath into Low Road, back towards the town, which circumvents the old holiday camp...
    More interestingly having reached this area, is the location used in several episodes, featuring the Dovercourt beach huts, & also the boating lake, where Spike was fond to take his girlfriend, on days off...
    West End Lane, also runs along where the real holiday camp once accepted campers, & featured in many scenes, such as the camp carnival, & another turning off the main, Low Road, is Hall Lane, where Joe Maplin sat in his car to spy on Ted & Spike...
    Perhaps the main site of interest in Dovercourt, though, is Cliff Hotel, on the arterial Marine Parade, where the cast of the series were accommodated, & which itself was used as a filming location... Also here, between the Phoenix Pavillions & the lighthouses on Dovercourt Beach, is where Spike walked his girlfriend in the episode, 'Sausages 0r Limelight'...
    In the episode, 'Save 0ur Heritage', the builder's yard from where the tractor is taken, is a farmyard down Stone Greens Road, in Great 0akley, which is within walking distance, along the sea wall, from the beach huts area...
    Manningtree Station, on the Mayflower Line, into & out of Harwich, is where Peggy is rescued in '0rphan 0f The Storm', & adjacent Mistley is where Spike & Ted search for cockels & winkels, in the marsh by The Walls, in 'Lift Up Your Minds' & 'Sausages & Limelight'...
    The episode 'Wedding Bells', dedicated to the marriage of Gladys & Clive, took place in Lawford, @ Saint Mary's Church (& the Ford Consul they were driven in, belonged to someone I knew, Vic Smith, who also drove it in the episode...)
    Hi-De-Hi chalet scenes were all shot in the studio, but there are further locations to be visited in this area of Essex...
    The Marine's Assault course, used for 'Tell It To The Marines', was Friday Wood, in Colchester, whereas Flatford Mill, over the border in Suffolk, appeared 'as itself', in 'Nice People With Nice Manners'...
    Actual locations in Harwich town itself, are the former The Three Cups pub, in Church Street, used as Tony's Trattoria in 'Spaghetti Galore', & in the same area, near Ha'penny Pier, The Electric Palace cinema, featured in '0nly The Brave'...
    Hi-De-Hi is probably my favourite English sitcom, because I believe it accurately portrays English society, in microcosm - i.e; Mr. Fairbrother, the Entertainment Manager, has earnt his job because of his 0xbridge education - as an archeologist!
    In other words, he's a reserved academic (perhaps Asperger's syndrome sufferer ?) who has no practical skills in the role his qualification has earnt him, therefore, the camp is truly run by the staff under him, most notably, chief comic, Ted Bovis, & Gladys Pugh, chief Yellowcoat...
    Even Peggy the chalet maid, could outwit the sluggish Mr. Fairbrother!
    In my opinion, this reflects working England - useless management, 'carried' by more acute staff - Hi-De-Hi...

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    by arturowan Updated Sep 17, 2013

    The High & Low Lighthouses built on Dovercourt beach, are an idiosyncratic, if redundant feature of the resort...
    They are quite unlike mainland lighthouses, because they were built on cast iron legs, with white lanterns housed in polygonal wooden shelters, accessed by metal steps arranged around the outside of the legs...
    The low light stands on 4 main legs, with an octagonal timber section, while the high light stands on 6 legs, with an hexagonal 'house', complete with metal chimney which bears an imitation flag, the metal stamped-out digits on which, mark the year of building - 1862
    The lights first operated in 1863 as a matched pair, 150 yards apart - the mariner having to align both lights to set course into the harbour, or mouth of the River Stour...
    However, owing to the excessive tidal erosion around Harwich & Felixstowe, the pair of lights were soon misleading mariners, so they were turned off permanently in 1909
    In 1988, both lighthouses were restored with the intention to open them to the public, which has proved problematic because of the eroded causeway, leading from the high to the low structure, which is submerged up to the light deck, at high tide...

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    by arturowan Updated Jan 15, 2013

    If you want to find yourself a secluded piece of beach, then head out of Harwich, along the main promenade that takes you into Dovercourt, then keep walking past the beach huts, along to the top of the sea wall. This is Dovercourt Haven, a popular place with dog walkers, but about 10 minutes along the perimeter wall, you will reach a tiny, out of the way stretch of sand & pebbles. Behind the concrete wall, it's possible to spend as long as you want, undisturbed by anything but the cries of gulls & the rumble of engines from the distant container ships. So, if you fancy trying something like skinny-dipping, this is the place to go, as I've never been disturbed by anybody, in all the times I've ventured out to this quiet spot, that overlooks the bay separating Harwich from Walton-on-the-Naze. By continuing the walk from here, inland, it's possible to walk into the village of Great 0akley - the sea wall itself, becoming inaccessable past this point, because this isolated place is the unlikely site of an explosive chemicals plant...

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Dovercourt Restaurants

  • by ohIdolike2Bbesidethe Written May 26, 2009

    Home cooked food, freshly prepared and cooked to perfection.

    A little snug but friendly staff and relaxed atmosphere conpensates for that.

    Varied menu with that caters for most tastes and a desert menu to drool over

    Favorite Dish: Chicken kiev...........a old favourite revived to it's proper standing

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Dovercourt Shopping

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    by arturowan Updated Mar 18, 2014

    1 of the great quirks of Dovercourt, is that it is of the few British towns to have remained free from any branch of Tesco...
    There are 4 supermarkets represented in Dovercourt High Street; Co-op (twice), Asda, & Iceland... All are located within walking distance along the same stretch of Dovercourt High Street, where the 2 steepest hills are, both sides the centre of town, while a Lidl is at the bottom of the steep hill, next to the Premier Inn, if you turn off the roundabout, towards the bypass for Parkeston...
    Carrying on towards Parkeston, there is a large Morrisons, on an out-of-town development, with other multiple chain stores...
    Apart from the supermarkets, Dovercourt is refreshingly free of chainstores, so there are numerous independent traders selling all sorts of things like electrical goods, sportswear, or bicycle spares...
    There is also a street market, annually, in time for Christmas, for which the central crossroads area is closed to traffic (see photo's...)
    In many ways, Dovercourt & Harwich town is more like that typical of the 1970's, before the multiples & franchises took over, & this I think is greatly in its favour...

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Dovercourt Warnings and Dangers

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    by arturowan Updated Sep 17, 2013

    Dovercourt has as much seafront as other Tendring resorts, such as Clacton or Frinton, yet whereas both these towns provide several storm shelters, there are only 2 of them, spaced at the extreme ends of Dovercourt..
    Like any seaside resort, Dovercourt bears the brunt of fickle weather, where sea & river meets land, & even on a sunny day, the rainstorms here can be sudden & heavy enough to soak you to the skin in a matter of minutes...
    0wing to the pathetic lack of provision of shelters to the public, it's probably quicker to find shelter at the railway station, than along the promenade, but by then you'll probably have been drenched...
    All the beach huts in the resort are grouped together in Upper Dovercourt, which is detrimental to the appearance of the seafront below the town centre, which has all the atmosphere, or absolute lack of it, of Soviet-style, concrete slab architecture...
    Dovercourt seafront looks as if something great was planned for it, but the plans never became reality, resulting in a monotonous stright line of flat paving & sloping grass, with not a single pavillion in sight, until you reach the boating lake on the edge of town...
    For a seaside town reliant on tourist income, this lack of provision to visitors, is totally unbelievable...

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    downhill towards the A120 roundabout...

    by arturowan Updated Sep 10, 2013

    Harwich is a destination of the UK National Cycle Network, but as another contributor on here has observed, the signage in the area for cyclists is contradictory & confusing...
    1 sign on Dovercourt seafront, for the cycle/foot ferry, that needs to be caught in Harwich, actually points directly out to sea, when there is still 2km of road through both towns, to be negotiated!
    Anybody arriving in the town by ferry, intending to cycle away from it, needs to know that locals agree that the main road out, the A120 - is regarded as a NO GO route for cyclists with any sense of self-preservation...
    Harwich, like many British towns, is still served by a road that has been outgrown by the demands of modern transport, not least because of the container lorries arriving from the Continent...
    Even without these vehicles, which take up all of the width of either carriageway, this road is an accident blackspot, for the following reasons;
    1 - it is too narrow in places, causing 'bottlenecks', & does not have the capacity to cope with the volume of traffic at peak times, as when traffic is exiting ferry terminals...
    2 - it has too many bends, some of which are 'blind'...
    3 - it has many gradients, which can hide over-taking vehicles...
    4 - it has numerous crossroads, some of which are just farm tracks, with no proper road markings/white lines to distinguish there is a main road to be crossed...
    5 - the Colchester end of the A120 is dual-carriageway, but the Harwich section is single-carriageway, so traffic travelling towards the coast can be coming as much as 3 times the speed of that moving away from the port...
    The result of this, over the years, has been many accidents from the side roads, because drivers pull-out, underestimating the speed differential between each carriageway...
    So, the obvious advice to cyclists, is to keep off this nightmare highway - I regularly mountain bike 100km in a day, but I only ever venture onto this route, early Sunday mornings, when most English people are having their lie-ins.
    There are 2 alternative routes out of Harwich;
    1 - follow the Low Road into Dovercourt, left, out of town, (turning off towards Stones Green, once past Great 0akley, if you want to go inland & avoid the hills of the coast road...)
    2 - follow the Parkeston bypass as far as the A120 roundabout, then turn right into Ramsey, which takes you inland via another coast road, (which has some of the steepest hills in so-called, 'flat' Essex, which will test the gear range of any bicycle, but better this option than staying on the dreaded A120!)

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  • Dovercourt Hotels

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Dovercourt Favorites

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    by arturowan Updated Sep 10, 2013

    Favorite thing: If you're visiting Harwich because of its location as a centre of all things nautical, you might want to make a point of finding a locus, where all these features - town centre; port; estuary; sea; & surrounding scenery, might be observed, all at the same time...
    I would suggest you go to Dovercourt railway station, (downhill from the library, Kingsway - straight on, over the crossroads) & climb to the top of the pedestrian bridge...
    This will provide a 360degree panorama, with the chimney tops of the old town to your left, while straight on down the railway line towards Wrabness, is Parkeston Quay & the passenger terminal...
    To your right is the Harwich lowland, known as Bathside, which was the area flooded in 1953 & where several lives were lost, & today it remains something of a bramble-ridden, no man's land between high ground & saltmarsh...
    In this direction is the mouth of the River Stour, marked by the lightship LV18, & it still is a water highway, used by traffic sailing to Mistley Quay...
    The scenery in the background is Suffolk peninsula, & on a clear day you will be able to spot Shotley Marina & the tower where the police training school used to be...
    0n the opposite side of Shotley Bay, is the mouth of the River 0rwell, just visible if you turn around to face in the other direction down the line, towards Harwich Quay, although the skyline here is dominated by the Dooley container terminals, on the opposite bank of the river...
    I would rate this the best view of Harwich, but technically, this is still Dovercourt, so if you want a similar panoramic study, pedantic to the old port, then climb the steep hill to the Redoubt fort (clearly signposted from the Main Road)...
    0utside the moat is a circular path around the allotments, which will provide many of the sights outlined above...

    Fondest memory: Dovercourt seafront is dominated by its matching pair of lighthouses, & their unique design, with a seagull or several, perched aboard, is what defines this maritime town for me...

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