We were indeed fortunate to have secured Julian Porter to share with members his knowledge of and enthusiasm for one of his favourite buildings, the Kursaal. This building, built in 1896, in the centre of the East Parade, established a new architectural style in Bexhill, with Moorish or Mogul influence very clear. It stood until 1936 on the site where Bexhill Sailing Club now stands.
It had pier- like qualities, projecting over the beach on iron piers and was originally intended to be attached to a pier. It was thought it had a glazed roof, with a central span, containing a lounge and bar with Moorish furnishings, aisles on either side containing a reading and a writing room and with a tea lounge at the rear with an open-air deck with chairs, umbrellas and plants. A season ticket gave access to all these facilities and performances of the orchestra alone.
It was Bexhill’s first entertainment pavilion, but it was intended for rich holidaymakers, who came to stay at the Sackville Hotel, rather than the people of Bexhill. The entrance to the De La Warr Parade was also private and access was through iron gates erected by Viscount Canteloupe after attempts to sell it to the town failed. b_ehaviour on the parade was strictly controlled by the rules displayed on a board at the entrance and visitors paid to enter.
It was the seventh Earl De La Warr who decided to turn his holdings into a fashionable resort and his son who continued to promote it. Bexhill was said to be modelled on the Cote D’Azur!
There was a bicycle boulevard on the East Parade, as cycling was very fashionable and bicycles could be hired. The largest shelter on the East Parade was a bandstand at the time, with an enclosure and seating and people could pay to enter. Members were interested to learn that the famous composer, Gustav Holst, was a trombone player in one of these bands. The sound from the bands at the Colonnade, which was for the locals, was often in competition with the Kursaal. There was also high class entertainment at the Kursaal.
From 1910-1913 there were rough winters in Bexhill and the Kursaal suffered storm damage and the repairs to it were of questionable merit. During the First World War it was considered important to change its German sounding name and in 1915 it was renamed The Pavilion. It became an entertainment centre for wounded troops. After the war there was still a fun-fair and roller- skating in the Kursaal and the Winter Gardens were still in evidence in 1936, the year of its demolition.
The ninth Earl De La Warr [Buck] laid the foundation stone of the new De La Warr Pavilion for the people of Bexhill in May 1935. But, much as we may love the new pavilion, many will mourn the loss of this once beautiful and elegant building, the Kursaal.
After the members’ Christmas party in December, the season of talks will begin at the Azur, St Leonard’s, downstairs in the Round Room[lift available] on Monday 25th January, when John Hamilton will be speaking about his life in the fishing industry.
Coffee is available from 9.45 and the meeting starts at 10.30. You can attend two meetings before you decide whether to join. On arrival you will be met by greeters and asked to sign in. If you decide to join, it costs £17 and then all the talks are free.
Further details can be obtained from Sian Trevellion on : 07970 727 180 or initialenquiries@email@example.com
We hope to see you.
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