Sunday, 1 June 2008

Pavs Garden Café

We travelled down to visit Shirley’s Step-Mum Winnie yesterday – the day started out fine so we thought we’d suggest a drive down to Westgate-on-Sea, Kent which was one of the places she and Harold used to visit together fairly regularly.

Actually there are at least two other folks who will probably remember Westgate from their childhood – yup, that’s Clare and Andrew; and that’s probably at least 25 years ago too!

When we got to Westgate the weather had sadly deteriorated and it had started to rain a little – it was almost lunchtime so we parked the car and headed to the famous ‘Pavs Café’ on the seafront where we enjoyed a slightly naughty fish ‘n chips lunch!!

Pavs Café is one of those strange and rather unique ‘institutions’ you bump into every so often in dear old England – I’ve always wondered why it was so popular; before it changed hands a few years ago, there used to be signed photographs of famous people all around the walls, mostly actors and actresses.

So when I got home yesterday I did some research!!

It appears that Pavs Café was originally owned by a guy called Herbert Smith, a very big cheese in the post war UK film industry – he and his brother Sam formed British Lion Films and controlled the film studios at Denham before these were closed by the Rank Organisation – Herbert and Pav then moved in 'retirement' to Kent in 1950

Apparently, Herbert bought the cafe in 1951 when it was just a bit of a shed with a large space outside for seating called "The Garden". Neither Herbert nor his wife Pav knew anything about catering but Pavs Garden Café was to become one of those places which anyone who knew anything about Westgate-on-Sea knew all about.

Winnie recalled how she and Harold used to enjoy taking their grandchildren Clare and Andrew to Westgate and by all accounts the kids enjoyed it too - with buckets and spades, ice creams, rock pool fishing and all that goes with the old-style British beach holiday! I hope they still have many happy memories of those days too?

If you’ve time and have the inclination, there’s some fascinating history and photographs here – end of history lesson!!

Anyway, back to yesterday! By the time we’d finished and started walking along the promenade, the rain worsened and the wind coming off the sea was cold too!! So we headed back to the warmth of the car!!

Westgate-on-Sea in the cold and rain isn’t too attractive!!