ALAN WRIGHT: A touch of sunshine

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IT’S bound to have happened that, by the time you are reading this column, the weather will have changed to its pre-winter mode of dark, wet and gloomy.

There’s no doubt, though, that the first half of last week gave us one of the nicest spells of autumn weather and “Indian summer” that we’ve had for years.

Never mind New England in the Fall, the parks and gardens around Hartlepool are looking spectacular.

Our own garden is full of seasonal browns and golds, and the birds are feasting on the juicy berries from the firethorns, the elderberry, and the rest.

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The lingering sunshine has kept some plants flowering later than normal, and our fuschias and passion flowers are adding to the colourful picture.

I had a fine treat in the shape of lunch with colleagues at Krimo’s on the Marina last Tuesday, and the outlook across water and the boats was spectacular in the sunshine.

The view towards the Headland was particularly fine and was attracting a crop of keen amateur photographers.

As you drive out of there back towards the town centre, there’s a view which you may have missed which is an interesting slice of local history. As you pass the Yacht Club and turn right towards the Old West Quay hotel, it’s worth stopping at the first mini-roundabout.

As you look straight up, you’ll notice that the road reaches a dead end but, just past it, the view continues in a straight line up Church Street. Slicing the road in two, of course, is the railway line, and therein lies a tale.

At the time when the Marina was developed, and its roads were planned out, there was a school of thought which said that Hartlepool would eventually lose its rail services.

Happily, we still have them, and that’s why you have to wait at the level crossing quite often when leaving that area.

If rail had disappeared, though, the theory was that those two stretches of road would have been joined up to provide a straight run from Church Square to the waterfront.

For various planning reasons, we seem to still have a kind of barrier between a chunk of the town and a great asset in our Marina and its vistas.

Another chance was missed at the Railway Station all those years ago.

Most visitors to the station wouldn’t even know that they were a stone’s throw from the water.

Standing on our only platform, you are staring at a dull brick wall, albeit with paintings of ships, and a mini forest of weeds.

If that wall had been an open gridded fence, and an inlet had been created, what a different view incoming visitors would have had.

You could have stepped off your train with boats in view, instead of seeing that awful wall and the back of the cinema.

The restaurant was bustling last week and plenty of local people were enjoying walks in the sunshine. But we missed chances to make more of our best natural asset.