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Report - Frinton park court art deco shopping mall, Frinton-on-sea, Essex, August 2014

Discussion in 'Other Sites' started by slayaaaa, Sep 1, 2014.

  1. slayaaaa

    slayaaaa 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Jul 10, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Did some research and found this, wasn't expecting the site to be this big and a lot was dark. Again all I was equipped with was my phone.

    The site is a wreck, but if your family has gone to the beach and, like me, you hate sand, slip off for an hour or two to this place, it'll surprise you like it did me.

    If you're here just for the pictures then I don't blame you. I do, however, enjoy the research part of an explore so I tend to involve it in the report.


    The following is an extract from an article written by Kelly Oxborrow, for the Arts etc web site, on Frinton Park Court.

    “The partially completed Frinton Park Estate, in Frinton-on-sea, is a remarkable example of a modernist development. In 1934 a two hundred acre site on the border of Frinton and Walton-on-Naze was bought by the South Coast Property Investment Company Ltd., who planned to build a whole new small town. A management company, Frinton Park Estate Ltd., was formed. A member of the board of the company, Frederick Tibenham, who was also a head of a furniture and joinery firm, introduced the board to the architect Oliver Hill.

    Oliver Hill - Oliver Hill (1887–1968) was an English architect, landscape architect, and garden designer. He was apprenticed to a builder and then to an architect. His early garden designs were in the Arts and Crafts style but he turned towards modernism in the 1930s, favouring curved lines. He designed the British pavilion at the Paris Exposition of 1937.

    Hill was a Fellow of the Institute of Landscape Architects and enjoyed a reputation as a country house designer.

    He helped design and build the following sites:

    • Moor Close, Binfeld, Berks (alterations 1910–13)
    • Cour, Kintyre, Argyll (1922)
    • Exhibition stands for Moorcroft, Wedgwood and Pilkingtons/Twyford at the British Empire Exhibition, Wembley (1924)
    • Woodhouse Copse, Holmbury St Mary, Surrey (1926)
    • 40 and 41 Chelsea Square, London SW3 (1930)
    • The Midland Hotel in Morecambe, Lancashire.[1] (1932)
    • Joldwynds, Holmbury St Mary, Surrey (1932)
    • Landfall, Poole, Dorset (1936–38)
    • First School, Methley Road, Castleford (1939–40)
    • The Priory, Long Newnton, Tetbury (1963)

    Hill ensured that the tone of the estate would do nothing to attract day-trippers from London, keeping Frinton for the well kept and well bred, whilst making the estate a showcase for modern British design.

    A detailed plan for the whole area was drawn up. The Estate company provided the layout of curved roads called ‘ways’, together with the other main services, and sold plots individually at prices from £150. A few show houses were also to be built by the Company. Eleven hundred houses were planned, grouped together according to their different styles. The best 40 acres nearest the sea were set aside for the houses of the most modern design. These houses were designed to have windows to catch the sun, spacious balconies and wide flat roofs for sunbathing. Also planned was a town hall, college, various churches, a new railway station, a large shopping complex and, most ambitious of all, a luxury hotel, to be situated at the foot of the cliffs right on the sea’s edge. This was designed in 1934 and had a 150m curved facade, 100 guest rooms, each en suite with sea views, and an entrance on the upper level, with the bedrooms below on the face of the cliff.

    Many architects were invited to design houses for the estate. By September 1934 Hill had allocated sites on Easton Way to ‘the cream of our younger designers in the contemporary style’. These included Frederick Gibberd, Erich Mendelsohn & Serge Chermayeff, Tecton, Wells Coates, FRS Yorke, Maxwell Fry, W.G. Holford & Gordon Stevenson, Raymond McGrath, and Connell, Ward & Lucas.

    The first building to be erected was the circular Frinton Park Estate Information Bureau in Cliff Way, now The Round House. This would exhibit products approved by Hill as well as photographs of modern houses from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA); it also acted as office for records and sales.

    Only part of the shopping mall was ever built.

    Use and Closure

    The company borrowed money in order to build 36 houses. Unfortunately the building society that had advanced the funds insisted that none of the houses should be built of concrete, the material preferred by most of the architects. This caused many of the designers planned to have houses built in Easton Way to back out. Once buildings had been commissioned it was also extremely slow, as the builders were inexperienced and the details and drawings supplied for them to work from were inadequate. Another problem met the Frinton Park project in July 1935 when Tomkins Homer & Ley, the major estate agents of the area, took over the sales side of the scheme. Tomkins’ business like approach clashed violently with the grand utopian ideas of Hill, eventually leading to Hill’s resignation.

    Frinton Park Court, part of a planned shopping mall built in 1935, stands on the corner of Central Avenue and Walton Road. The shops, including a dress shop and a bakery, opened here for nearly ten months before closing due to complete lack of business, presumably because it was situated in an area that had previously failed to attract more holiday goers after the war (like pretty much every sea side town). It was then taken over by the War Department and the ground floor shops were converted to a hall with the large windows being bricked up. It is also reported to have been used as a cinema at one stage.

    In 1945, brethren of the Arnold and Frituna Lodges purchased part to the building. They were later joined by the newly formed Gunfleet Lodge. The upstairs flats were converted to a dining room and the ground floor to a temple with an very unusual gallery running round one end and part of one side. Although the building has been much altered over the years, the slight curve at the Walton Road end is still visible. This made for an interesting temple layout as none of the walls are straight and none of the corners are at right angles. In fact, this theme carried on throughout most of the building. Although the building has been altered over the years, mainly in line with legislative requirements, many original features still remain, such as Bakerlite doorknobs, the staircase and block tiled window on the top floor landing.

    During 1995, the east side of the building was extended to provide better toilet and cloakroom facilities as well as a lift. Until this time, the ladies toilet was a pedestal in a store cupboard on the first floor!

    The top floor of the newer extension was also used as a bar at some point, but obviously, followed the same demise as the rest of the site.

    The adjoining part of the building consists of fifteen flats and garages and have been unoccupied since the mid 1980s. The flats have been neglected over the years and now stand derelict and overgrown, were constantly subjected to vandalism and became locally known as an eye sore. These have now disappeared, now all that stands of Hill's development estate is a few houses that have been heavily modified and the derelict, crumbling shopping mall.

    Useful links/sources:



    The Frinton park estate, designed by Oliver Hill:


    The site was sold in 2005 to a development company, but people have seemed to be fighting to keep the site, even in it's current state of major disrepair. It has even suffered attacks from the public posing as council directors etc.: http://www.gazette-news.co.uk/news/...elopment_delayed_by_council_imposter_s_trick/

    A company has been set up named after the site (Frinton park court (development)) to re-develop it into housing.

    Unfortunately Frinton park court (development) will most likely eventually demolish the shopping mall and replace it and some of Pedlars wood nature reserve into housing.

    The site is situated inside a nature reserve and on the border between Walton-on-the-naze and Frinton-on-sea, so inbetween two large housing estates and (as mentioned above) has faced a lot of disagreement and criticism.


    The site as it stands (just about) is in complete disrepair, a total wreck except the front façade (bar, lift and hall/temple/cinema. Water and damp has found its way in due to an arson attack not too long ago, metal thieves and the mismanagement of the site. This has resulted in a floor collapse, damp rot and subsidence.

    The surrounding wood hasn't help preserve it either and nature has slowly taken over the site with brambles, trees and all sorts of plants growing out of every crack in the site.

    It would literally cost thousands to restore the site and even if they were crazy enough spend that on it, it wouldn't be worth it.

    The explore

    Access was really fun, involved a lot of climbing and getting in actually took me on a tour of the site it's self just getting access!

    Amazing picture opportunities In this place, only problem is you have to be so careful if you want to go inside the back part of the building (flats/shops) as the floors have collapsed and are slippery, unless you know what you're doing and know where to walk I highly suggest you stay out of it, in fact even then, it's unpredictable!

    Asbestos is obviously a problem too.

    Amazing colours, shades and textures in there. A few pieces are still left here and there remembering back when this place was all nice and new.

    On with the photos


    External from west showing the front part where the hall/bar is.


    External from east showing undergrowth and nature.


    External from north showing the front part where the hall/bar is.


    Once in, you see the individual outbuildings and courtyards that were used as storage and open air space for the flats/shop units.

    Back of one of the shop units.


    Shop unit in foreground, and the back of hall/bar in the background.


    Inside the shop units, back room of the flat.


    Back hall way/staircase of a flat.


    Front room of the flat showing sinking chairs.


    Downstairs Bath room of the flat/shop.


    Fireplace In one of the shop units.


    Front hall/temple/cinema, poor flash on my phone, I do apologise.


    Front bar.


    Another with a wines list.


    The bottom of the lift, again it was dark.


    Bathroom/toilet adjacent to the hall.


    The roof, full of holes from metal thieves.


    Front flat/shop entrance.


    Inside of the shops.


    And I'll leave you with this one.


    This site may not look that good and wrecked, but it's really nice, even just for climbing practice! Thoroughly enjoyed the explore, and if anything this is just documentation. I took 197 pics including some of the stuff that was left and more of the roof and rooms etc. let me know if you'd like to see more.

    I did post a few shots on the people shots thread of me goofing about posing etc. check it out if you enjoyed this.

    Thanks again.

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  2. The Wombat

    The Wombat Mr Wombat
    Regular User

    Oct 14, 2012
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    Good effort mate
    and a very comprehensive write up too :thumb
  3. UrbanDuck

    UrbanDuck Authorised Trespasser
    Regular User

    Sep 3, 2013
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    Nice mate, very rustic looking.
  4. georgie

    georgie He Never Even Got There
    Regular User

    May 2, 2009
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    Different that i like it
  5. Session9

    Session9 A life backwards
    Regular User

    Feb 4, 2010
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    Good set and enjoyed the write up. Not wrong about this place, every step a challenge!
    Will take until the next century for the council to decide what to do there. Frinton folk do not move fast or like even a whisker of change! The next ice age may come sooner... :D
  6. slayaaaa

    slayaaaa 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Jul 10, 2014
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    Yeah, the stories of how they've stopped demolition is quite funny really! It's also on a nature reserve i believe. Hopefully nature is left to take it over.
  7. soclosetopancakes

    soclosetopancakes 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

    Mar 9, 2014
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    Hey dude, nice report been heremyself a billion times as I live in frinton I also made the entrance onto the roof to get into the other building, its a great place and great history, private message me sometime if your a local
  8. JakeUrbex

    JakeUrbex 28DL Member
    28DL Member

    Sep 20, 2015
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    Amazing place but it is gone now stupid people demolished it that was history and now its gone forever ;(
  9. Special Brew

    Special Brew 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

    Dec 17, 2012
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    As much as I hate seeing buildings left to fall apart, the time to save it was probably 15 years ago. With a five inch wide crack down the building's spine this was never going to last long im afraid. Nice write up though fella
    slayaaaa likes this.
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