Eastbourne in old picture postcards

Eastbourne in old picture postcards

:   Tony Wales
:   Sussex, East
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-2641-0
:   80
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Fragmenten uit het boek 'Eastbourne in old picture postcards'

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Eastbourne has aften been portrayed as everyone's ideal holiday resort, and indeed this may not be very far from the truth. It is clean and tidy, with good beaches, an enviable elimate most ofthe time, and very little to disturb either the holidaymakers or the residents.

Same ofthe titles bestowed on the town over the years, give a good idea of what Eastbourne aims at, and usually achieves: 'The Empress afWatering Places', 'The Town of Trees' (it on ce boasted of 10,000 of these) , and even "The Naples of Sussex' are same ofthe descriptive names that have been used. It has even been suggested that it is the modern embodiment of the ancient Sussex 'Anderida' . The tewn's official motto 'Let us follow better things' may be rendered in modern parlance as 'Beautiful Healthy Eastbourne' .

Like many other coastal resorts Eastbourne originated in a modest settlement. This was known as Burne, which later became Bourne. Here was achalk stream, which was until quite modern times an overflow from a nearby pond. Close-by were the withy beds used by local basket makers. (Once a local man was fined for driving his pigs into the pond.) Subsequently the prefix East was added, probably to distinguish it from another town with a similar name. Growth was rapid. By 1780 it was described as 'a desirabie

watering place', when the children of George III came to the town and stayed for four months. By 1911 it had become a County Borough and one can say that progress has continued ever since, with a population of 1,668 at the start of the nineteenth century, which shot up to 52,544 by the start of the twentieth.

Mr. G.R. Sims writing at the latter time said: 'The white, stony glare which in other seaside towns is so distressing is here conspicuous by its absence ... Many ofthe busiest thoroughfares would console a Parisian for the lass of his beloved boulevards.'

Unlike same other seaside towns Eastbourne has always aimed at quality, rather than attempting to emulate towns such as Brighton or Hastings with their attractions for day trippers. This has inevitably led to a few unkind remarks aimed at Eastbourne, usually to the effect that many of the residents and visitors are elderly and sleepy. Unkind folk have remarked that the town has na young folk to pick up the many old folk wh en they fall down. (It was even said that the seagulls were taught to fly upside down to keep the promenades clean, and that shop-keepers provided bifocal windows.) Certainly the town had a policy of na hawkers, musicians or donkeys, and there was a good living to be had out of hiring out bath chairs at one and six

an hour. But scoffers could not prevent Eastbourne from becoming a beautifully clean and congenial holiday town for all those who looked for samething better than a me re hasty look at the sea, and a fish and chip supper. Recommendations, if such were needed, came from the many celebrities who chose to stay in the town through the years. These included Tennyson, Blackmore, Gissing, Debussy and Darwin. The latter stayed in a house in Marine Parade, whilst working on his "The Origin of Species' in the 1850s. ProfessorT.H. Huxley built a house here,

and Richard ]efferies conceived his famous work "The Story of my Heart' whilst staying at nearby Pevensey. Another regular visitor was Lewis Carroll, who spent his summers in Lushington Raad. Friedrich Engels, collaborator ofKarl Marx, aften holidayed at Eastbourne, and when he died in 1 895 his ashes were scattered off Beachy Head. Trees and flowers have always played a major part in the face which Eastbourne presents to its visitors. A guide baak from the beginning of the twentieth century noted:

"The slopes between the parades are planted with tamarisk and a number of flowers that change with the seasons wallflowers in spring, pappies, cornflowers and evening primroses in the summer and autumn. Such a floral dis-

play in proximity to the sea is picturesque in the extreme.' Coming forward to the year 2000 a modern guide-book says much the same in different words: "The beautiful seafront gardens capture the elegance of Victorian bedding and floral sculpture. A new bedding display is set out each year.'

In this present baak we look back at Eastbourne's recent past, from the end of the nineteenth century to the middie of the twentieth. May you, the reader, find these old pictures fascinating and rewarding.

1 This is Eastbourne at the turn of the centuries from the 19th to the twentieth. It had already laid claim to being the most fashionable seaside resort in Sussex, and was developing rapidly under the principle landowner the Duke ofDevonshire.

The seafront extended for three miles, with roads and paths at different levels, with, in the distance the famaus Beachy Head, with its chalk cliff 575 feet high. This fine panoramic photo was the work of G. and R. Lavis ofEastbourne.

2 Another picture soon after the same period, but this time a print, well embeHished with fashionably dressed visitors and lots of activity both on the promenade and the beach.

At this time the Burlington Hotel, looking suitably staid and respectable, is central to the seafront. Other hotels at this period were The Cavendish, The Claremont, The Queensborough, The Alexandra and The Mayfair. Typical tariffs were single rooms four shillings; double rooms seven and sixpence, with a fuH week's board seventy-three shillings and sixpence.

According to a guide book

of the period, behind the seafront hotels were 'shops that might have been transposed bodily from the most fashionable part of London'.

3 The year is 1904 and we are thoroughly 'down to earth' with a message on a postcard, which reads: 'Expect me home tomorrow night at the usual time.' The six people arranged so neatly on the front of the card are part of the Cramp familyon holiday from Horsham. (Another member of the family taak the photo.) The baat they are using as a back-drop was one of many such craft which beguiled holidaymakers with the promise ofa trip round the lighthouse' . If the tide was right they might even be allowed to actually land on the rocks which surrounded the light house.

4 This picture of the beach dates from around 1920. Eastbaurne had a gaad beach for baats, with its slight shelving. Rawing baats cauld be hired for ane shilling and sixpence for the first haur, and sailing baat fares cauld be as little as five shillings. As at many ather seaside resorts, Eastbaurne had its favaurite sailing baat 'The Skylark'. No hawkers were allawed on the beach, but the fishermen had been there since at least the seventeenth century, with surnames such as Tutt, Erridge, Badle and Barthalamew. Eastbaurne fishermen were knawn as 'willack-eaters' (willacks were

guillemats, who's flesh is very unpalatable) .

5 Coming forward ra

195 1 with this busy picture ofholidaymakers enjoying the attractions provided for them on the beach. Iust a few of the events in Eastbourne in the 1950s were three flower shows a year, NavyWeek, County Cricket Week, a Carnival, a Regatta, a CroquetTournament and an Angling Festival. Deck chairs could be hired for sixpence, and beach tents cast four pounds a month. There were two indoor swimming baths, as well as the expected sea cruises and motorbaat trips.

6 This picture from about 1 9 16 shows the busy scene at the Western Lawns on a typical Sunday morning, after church services. This regular weekly gathering of the brightest and best in their finery was known as "The Church Parade', and was said ra be the best place to find a wife or a husband.An 1899 newspaper reported: 'Ihe Church Parade was a gay and animated scene, with same wonderful things in feminine attire ra be seen.' By 1919 there were twenty-seven churches and chapels in Eastbourne, and this had increased to 32 by 1931.


7 The period is around

19 1 2 and the photo shows the large number of wheeled bathing machines which were in use at that time. These cabins, which were hauled out to the water by horses, were for several years managed by Mr. Fred Erridge, of alocal fishing family. Ladies and gentlemen had separate machines in the early days and mixed bathing later caused a good deal of controversy (in 1922 bathing, bands and buses on Sundays, all caused a great deal of argument in the town). By 1 930 the council were responsible for the bathing cabins, and they were hired out for sixpence per half

hour (children fourpence) . In 1935 Bathing Chalet No. 2 was used by King George V and Queen Mary on a holiday in Eastbourne.

Also in this picture can be seen a small crowd enjoy-

ing a show at the beach theatre.

8 The Round House at Splash Point as seen on a painting about 1 840. Ihis was demolished in 1841 due to the buffeting it received from the sea. Before that time, hundreds of re si dents and visitors would come to gaze at the aweinspiring sight of the waves dashing against the sea wall. Those who stood toa close were drenched by the water, but appeared to enjoy the experience. Prince Edward stayed here in 1780, one ofthe many who looked upon the building as an essential part of Eastbourne.When it was finally removed, remains of a Roman villa came to light, and subse-

quently further Roman remains were found in 1848.

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