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IMAGE CREDIT: T Cecil Howitt, Nottiingham City Council

News that the writing group beginning planning a book about the Beachlands estate in Pevensey Bay has re-discovered the story about the status of the architect responsible for the plans is an interesting piece of detective work. If, as they suggest the architect father of the estate is T, Cecil Howitt one of the eminent provincial architects of the 20th century, then this story will have significance beyond Pevensey Bay. The value of the book that they plan is yet to be seen, but clearly there is an opportunity here for the book to have possible demonstrable social and economic value not just to the owners of properties on the estate , but also to Pevensey Bay. Their book, “Beachlands Estate, the unfinished symphony to the sea” looks as if it could provide some interesting national publicity for the estate in the media and amongst architectural historians across the country—Bay Life, 29 May 2017

With thanks to the Pevensey Timeline Association for permission to publish this article

The architect father of Beachlands in Pevensey Bay revealed for the first time since 1935, the man who had the Prince of Wales calling.
. . .
The architect father of Beachlands
Major T Cecil Howitt, DSO, OBE, FRIBA

“To have discovered, lost in architectural history after over 80 years, that the architect father of Beachlands is one of the eminent provincial architects of the 20th century, is something of a revelation.

“T Cecil Howitt was responsible for the initial designs, sketches and layout of the first fifty houses in Beachlands, making him both the architect father and inspiration for the estate.

“His work is lauded and acknowledged in the field of public housing in the inter-war years across the country and his ‘Council House” for Nottingham Council was opened by the Prince of Wales in 1929.

“The fact that he is the father of Beachlands is of national significance to the history of social housing architecture in this country and we believe that in writing this book and making what we discover available to a national audience represents the addition of a lost piece of the jigsaw in the history of modernist social architecture in this country.

“We hope to be able to crowdfund this book because we believe that what we have discovered is of national significance to architectural historians of the twentieth century.’

“We would also hope to be able to encourage documentary makers to consider this story as a possible candidate for a BBC programme about the history of modernist estate housing in this country. Until now, this story has been unknown and most certainly it has never been told.

“The fact that Beachlands represents one of the unfinished masterpieces of T Cecil Howitt, one of the eminent provincial architects of the 20th century, is both incontrovertible and extraordinary”.
—authors, The Beachlands Estate, the unfinished symphony to the sea.
. . .

[draft text, chapter one, The Beachlands Estate, the unfinished symphony to the sea]
Information about the life of Thomas Cecil Howitt, the architect father of Beachlands is featured in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

He designed the iconic Council House in Old Market Square, Nottingham Trent University’s Newton building and the former Raleigh headquarters.

His entry was written by architectural historian Doctor Elain Harwood, who explains that Howitt’s influence on the city was vast.

She said: “He is the great Nottingham architect of the 20th Century. One just needs to look around Nottingham and you can see his wonderful designs.”

In 1904, Howitt entered the office of the architect Albert Nelson Bromley, the year that Bromley was engaged in supervising the erection of the former Boots flagship store on High Street in Nottingham to his design, the new store being to the rear of the old Exchange building.

Howitt produced what was essentially a magnificent shopping arcade, largely influenced by the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan. Thomas Cecil Howitt began his career designing telephone exchanges and shops for Boots before the First World War.

He later joined the Nottingham city engineer’s department and helped develop new housing estates in the north and west of the city to tackle a shortage of houses.

In 1923 he proposed a replacement for the old 18th century Corn Exchange which would become the Council House. Work started in 1927 and the building was opened by the Prince of Wales two years later.