Wish Tower, Devonshire Park And Beaches

A Memory of Eastbourne.

During the years 1960 to 1967, aged 4 thru 11, this was my playground, as well as the Devonshire Park behind to the left. My parents ran the Devonshire Park Hotel during this time in Compton Street, an old Victorian Hotel full of character and style, but has since been knocked down and rebuilt, the old beautiful entrance staircase and enclosed entrance has disappeared and is now just a frontage to the hotel next to it.
I used to borrow a metal tray from the kitchen during winter when it snowed and fly dangerously down the slope to the Lifeboat museum, which was full of quirky, strange machines and displays. I remember The Baths, deep underground and very scary with the long steps down in almost complete darkness with the private seawater and freshwater baths on the second level.

The beaches went on for miles east from the Wishtower to the Crumbles and west to Holywell and further to cow gap and the lighthouse, the promenades were long too and as kids we were full of mischief and always in trouble of some kind.

Children's Corner in Devonshire Park was where I learnt to ride a bike and met many of my friends there. I remember the slide with its brass plate bottom, but one had been laid wrong, and the lip was facing upwards, so you could get a nasty friction burn if you weren't aware of it.

Years later when I moved back from Pevensey Bay as a teenager, we used to climb the railing on the hill to the right in the picture, and where the festoon lights dipped just enough to reach, we'd pinch a few to light "The Basement" with, a basement in my mates hotel which had been done out into a music room.

in the winter, the rough seas would splash out from the Bandstand frontage and in front of the Wishtower promenade, sometimes covering much of the promenades with pebbles which had to be shoveled out by hand, esp the little shelters built into the banks. Sometimes there'd be no pebbles on the beaches and the hard pack sand and bedrock were exposed as well as the foundations of the promenades, I remember having to jump off the end of the beach ramp as the drop was a few feet on days like this, then the next day, all the pebbles were back again.

The beaches were a constant source of amusement, at the end of the breakwaters, where there is always a little eddy pool, you could rummage your fingers down into the sand there and feel for the huge red edible crabs, latch on to their sides (they can't move much in the sand) and by slowly moving from side to side and up and down you could raise them up. I took one home to show my dad (running like I was carrying a bomb) and he cooked it that night, I don't remember what it tasted like though.

Yep, Eastbourne seafront was my learning ground, my playground and my world for a short space of time, but its indelibly etched into my soul and I'm glad I had the pleasure to experience it.

PS...anyone remember Stella, the woman who lived on the beach by the pier, apparently she owned land and a house in Hastings !

Added 09 October 2017


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