The Harbour Called West Bay

Tony French

A pony trots among the Sunday crowds
across a bridge that separates
a river and the sea
(above the gates to organise the tides)
at West Bay and the River Brid
where earthquake, fire and water
shaped a changing scene

the falling cliffs (buy fossils in a shop)
the shingle and the pebble beach (safe bathing)
a Wesleyan chapel, closed (so pray elsewhere)
the Bridport branch line (last train departed)
Post Office (last stamp sold)
the pubs renamed ('Ship Inn' and 'Neptune' sunk)
ships built and launched (the schooner Speedy, 1853)
a German bomber landed on the beach (the crew are captured)
the Salt House (preserving fish from Newfoundland)
turned milking parlour, cycle shop then hall
and films were shot (The Navy Lark and Harbour Lights
and Reggie Perrin walked into the sea)
where new defences face persistent waves

this Sunday where a pony trots
past leathered bikers eating battered cod
and families with ice-cream dreams
and seagulls shrieking rights
(their 'good sea-fishing' guaranteed)
and son and dad dip lines for crabs
(at steps where Joanna of Navarre
came to be married to a king in Winchester)
and one black cannon points across the waves
as shifting sand bars threaten deeper keels
and you and I take photos in the sun
of Golden Cap and small chalets
this Sunday where a pony trots
on water mirrored in the glass
of smart apartments
at West Bay.

Author's Note: West Bay is a small harbour in Dorset, UK. It is rich with history, from a landing of a future Queen of England - born in Spain in 1370, died in London in 1437 - to early trade with Newfoundland. A branch railway came and went, sandbars moved, cliffs still collapse - and many tourists and holidaymakers come and go at this active fishing and tourist harbour on the remarkable Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

Read more Poetry Atlas poems about Dorset.

Read more of Tony's poems at his site:

Main Location:

West Bay, Dorset, UK

Other locations:

The Harbour at West Bay, Dorset