Aldwick/Bognor Regis-on-Sea’s SeaFiSh cafe bar venue bucks the trend as music and arts venues close up and down the country. DB Schenker investigates, for Louder Than War.
Residents of Aldwick road in west Bognor Regis-on-Sea have long held that a vague outline of a contemplative female form can be glimpsed around or just after dusk through the right bay window of number 49, on a rainy night as tempests blow up from the English Channel. Apparently a young newlywed who was a frequent visitor to the premises had lost her beloved in the D-Day invasion of 1944, and would sit in the window waiting for his return until her suicide a couple of months later. All that remains of this tragic tale apart from the occasional sightings of this lady in grey is the wreck of a floating pontoon – which was one of those believed to have transported her new husband to France – on Aldwick beach at the lower end of the road.
The Tudor-style building at number 49 has housed an array of incarnations in recent times, from being a Dutch Pancake cafe, to Madlows restaurant, to more recently the prosaically-named That Place in Bognor. It is now the SeaFiSh cafe bar venue, which houses the Seraglio Stage, an art gallery, band practice room, secret courtyard and bed & breakfast. The stage is named after Seraglio Point Productions, a record label which has released over 20 albums in including The Best of The Vessel – of David Devant and His Spirit Wife fame – whose singer Mikey Georgeson delivered the venue’s brilliant opening speech.
Whilst being primarily a music venue and drop in cafe, The Fish – as it has become locally known – is also a community arts hub, with the focal point being original music and the work of local artists. The enormous David Bowie (circa 1968) portrait in the main venue and two colourful Gupper eel murals in the secret courtyard to the rear are all the vision of celebrated local artist and Speakeasy regular John Bain. The Speakeasy is held on the Seraglio Stage every Thursday, and punters step up to deliver on politics, poetry, comedy, or whatever else they like. Mr Bain recently, and captivatingly, recited the semi-pornographic first two chapters of his new novel-in-progress.
Beyond the impressive and beautiful testament to spiritual SF forefather Mr Bowie, there are also works by local artists Kate Pollard, Alasdair Willis, Amy Napper and Stephen J White. Acts as diverse as COLLyde, Mike Fry & The FT, Dirty Scavenger and Lucy Kitchen, alongside the region’s premier jazz musicians every Sunday have all played the Seraglio Stage so far, with rumours of London’s experimental electronic trio Metamono and The Bluetones’ Mark Morriss in the pipeline. As well as featuring an array of alcoholic and soft drinks and homemade food served 9am to 9pm, there are also plans for the Seraglio Point Music and Arts Festival in Summer 2016.
So, far on from sad tales of doomed love gone hauntingly wrong, SeaFiSh instead has immediately become the most talked about new venue on the south coast, bucking the trend of threatened music venues across the country being forced to close. With its heady mix of community spirit, creativity and positivity, the SeaFiSh cafe bar venue is here to stay.
For more information and bookings, call 01243 825051, text 07402 446369 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The venue is also on Facebook at and on Twitter at @ and has an official website: www.seafishvenue.co.uk
All words by DB Schenker. More writing by DB on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.