Torquay. Showing their age.

I only got one picture of these benches, because it was dark and rainy and all the others came out kind of blurred. So here it is:

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I’m interested by benches that appear to be totally bespoke designs. At least I’ve not seen one like this anywhere else.

These benches are situated on the fairly newly constructed cliff path running along one side of the bay in Torquay. There are a few of them dotted along the path, which is thoughtful as there are some fairly steep steps in places, so I’m sure people appreciate the resting spots, as well as places to stop and admire the view.

I cannot decide how I feel about them though. I admire the thought that has been put into them, but perhaps almost too much of not the right thoughts?

My feeling is that seats divided by arm rests are best (and indeed, much appreciated) in high traffic, utilitarian areas where people are likely to end up sitting next to strangers. They provide a subtle, mostly psychological sense of privacy and help to avoid uncomfortable space invasions. But in this setting, I feel like they are more likely to be used by tourists in couples, or family groups — or if a solitary person decided to sit, they are unlikely to be joined by anyone else — it’s not somewhere like a train station or waiting room where there’s more of a need to find a place to sit, and so it’s more socially acceptable to share a bench with strangers. These are ‘leisure’ benches. Because of this, I feel like the arm rests are maybe a tad unnecessary, but a nice touch nonetheless, forming as they do the supports for the back of the bench. (And maybe people really like arm-rests. I’m probably being over-critical. But you know, this is a blog about benches. I’m already ridiculous.)

The thing that kind of charms me is those little concrete tables on each end. Is that what they are? They feel like tables as they’re a tad too narrow for someone to comfortably sit, and don’t look designed for it. Plus concrete is cold to sit on. It’s a cute touch, especially as it’s somewhere that people would probably be likely to sit down for a picnic.

The thing that most bothers me about these benches is how badly they’re showing their age. I’m pretty sure they were new when I first went to Torquay to visit my partner’s parents 4 years ago. That’s not a long time for this much degradation. Sure, I guess the wood might have been chosen intentionally to go silver (although I always think it just looks worn and drab), and the metal is holding up ok, but the concrete ‘tables’ are heavy with natural staining and algae growth. They could do with a good power hose.

Still, all complaints aside, as mentioned, these benches have a stunning view. Even on this grey rainy day, I adore it.

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Comfort of bench: 7/10
Capacity of bench: Designed for 3, but 5 if people sit on the tables at either end. But then where are you going to put your mini sausage rolls and orange juice?
View from bench: Pretty bloody good. 8/10
Accessibility of bench: Well you know, I’m not sure. There are definitely a lot of stairs involved, but I think there may be a ramp only route leading in from the top. I wouldn’t want to say for certain though.
Adventure level: It’s about 15 minutes walk from Torquay train station, and easy to find, but you can kind of convince yourself you’re going on an adventure because it’s pretty high up! Um, 3/10 though.

 

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