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THIS WEEK No more worries for me or you: The Classic Seaford and District Bus Company

COMMUNITY Raising awareness of scams and doorstep crime

BUSINESS POST OF WEEK: Launch, Paws in the Bay


IMAGE CREDIT: T Cecil Howitt, founding architect father, Beachlands, Pevensey Bay

The national book about Beachlands is being prepared for publication. Here we publish exclusively the draft first chapter of the book that is planned to put the Beachlands estate back back into a rightful place as a unique part of the story of early modernist architecture and social planning in the country—Bay Life, 6 September 2017

Draft Beachlands Book exclusively published by Bay Life

The book, Thomas Cecil Howitt, the Beachlands estate in Pevensey Bay and the story of his unfinished symphony to the sea is now being made ready for publication.

The collaborative venture which sees local students, many of them living on the estate, studying the history of Beachlands, contributing research, written accounts, oral history, diarist notes and information drawn from many sources, is beginning to take shape.

The project is a joint venture between the Pevensey Timeline Association and a specialist publisher of social history accounts in Brighton, the Brighton Town Press.

The story is told through the discovery of documents and engagement in a series of courses that look at aspects of the history of the estate from the beginnings in 1934 and the birth of modernism in the country through to the present day.

Each of the five week courses adds another piece of the jigsaw to the story, with collaborative discussions and notes exchanged by the student group for each course between themselves.

A third five week course begins at the end of October, on Thursday October 27, 2:30pm—4:00pm.

The five course ia taught at the Ocean View Bakery and Restaurant in Pevensey Bay. The course is free to any resident living in Beachlands and £35:00 to any student that wants to undertake the course.

Following each course there is a three montb study support programme to collate new information, thoughts, diary accounts and research notes from students.

Two students from the first course, Ken and Jo Lacey, are now preparing to visit Norwich to investigate the story of Boulton and Paul, now known to be the manufactures of the Oyster Bungalows.

New residents in an oyster bungalow, Ken and Jo Lacey expressed their enthusiasm about the meetings now taking place in Beachlands. They explained the next stage in their own research and personal contribution to the Bachlands book.

They said, “the recent meeting of residents and interested parties from the Beachlands area  helps demonstrate how rich folk here are when it comes to supporting one another in diverse ways.

“My wife and I were glad to meet others at the Ethel Wood hall; some of whom  worked in building , maintenance, nursing, and local help projects such as beach cleaning and food bank.

“We are enjoying getting to know you all while researching the early history of Beachlands residents and architecture.

“We will be heading up to Norwich shortly to see if any link can be made with the Beachlands early construction through Boulton & Paul – a large supply and building company. We eagerly look forward to similar details from parties headed to Nottingham for architectural archive research.

“The thirties were certainly an interesting decade. I hope that we can all exercise our “little grey cells” and contribute In tending to this unique seaside marvel. Looking forward to further news…..

Another group from one of the courses is headed up to Nottingham this month to open the 72 archive boxes that comprise the life work of Thomas Cecil Howitt with his architectural projects.

The man who created the Council House in Nottingham, opened by the Prince of Wales in 1929, was also commissioned to create a series of art deco masterpieces for Odeon Cinemas, including the classic Western Super Mare building that is now, since 1985, enjoys listed status.

What will the group discover about his work to create Beachlands from his archives? Some of the archives have not see the light of day for 80 years.

Are we about to see the heritage industry in this country acknowledge the unique place that Beachlands occupies in the history of early Modernist architecture and social planning in this country?

What will the re-discovered importance of the estate in the story of the history of modernism in this country mean for the people who live in Beachlands now?

As the story unfolds week by week, excitement is already building towards the publication of the book in July 2018.

The book tells the story of the journey of discovery by the students.

Here we exclusively publish the first draft chapter of Thomas Cecil Howitt, the Beachlands estate in Pevensey Bay and the story of his unfinished symphony to the sea

Thomas Cecil Howitt, the Beachlands estate in Pevensey Bay and the story of his unfinished symphony to the sea
chapter one, draft—Primary research, it was to be a modern town in its entirety
all rights reserved, Pevensey Timeline Association/Brighton Town Press

Chapter One—Primary research, it was to be a modern town in its entirety

As Elaine arrived fast paced and breathless into the lesson each week, five minutes late, we knew that it was time to start the study.

Whenever work was set as part of a lesson, she would always say, ‘I can’t do this one’, shaking her head. After the allocated time, out would come original thoughts, all sequenced, delivered as if she had been analysing and writing about local social history for some time.

As we began the journey into the history of the Beachlands estate, none of us knew what we were about to discover, or perhaps more accurately it should be said, re-discover.

In the first lesson we looked at the difference between primary and secondary research.

The Roman rope discovered within the grounds of Pevensey castle is an example of primary research (the only Roman rope discovered in the country).

Coins discovered close to where the Mint House stands in Pevensey. original documents, committee minute meetings, ledgers, photographs, school records are all examples of primary research.

The extraordinary story of the original agricultural self-supporting school in 1839 in Pevensey, sited at the old thatched cottage, is an example of original primary research at the very best.

Much of the evidence that we see, it could be argued, particularly, for example, in relation to the Beachlands estate, is secondary evidence. People remembering something that they have heard, does not constitute primary research, although, as we were to discover, some of memories, traced back, were found to be true.

For example, were there ever plans ever for a cinema in Pevensey Bay as part of Beachlands? Stories say that this was the case, but were these stories true?

Any documentary evidence of those plans?

The legend, and there appear to be many legends attached to the Beachlands estate, is that a cinema was planned, although discovering the truth, was a surprise.

Like a number of accounts, what seemed to be the csae was the pieecs of the jigsaw had not been put together in a way in which the whole picture could be seen

There were eight students attending the first five week course about the history of the Beachlands estate.

The ad hoc long table that served as our classroom was the Ocean View Bakery and Restaurant, amongst the clinking cups of tea, and tea cakes, and the gentle buzz of one of the most popular cafes in the village.

There was something appropriate about the setting.

With so many local people enjoying the delights of the cafe on a regular basis, at least once, the lesson was broken with the welcome addition of a piece of information, or a person introducing themselves, who had something to say about the course or the plan for the book.

The fact that Katie Bundy, the owner of the cafe, was herself a member of the Beachlands community, said that we were in the right place to discover much more, not just about the history of the estate, but life now in the vibrant place in which people are proud to call themselves Beachlanders.

Diplomatic to a fault and a team player, Ken Lacey, attending the course with his wife, Jo Lacey, waved a book at the group, gently indicating the fact that he thought there was something that we might all like to see.

Smiling, slightly frustrated, he twinkled, safe in the knowledge that he was about to deliver a humdinger of a piece of primary research.

Half way through, the group having studied a series of local books, separating the wheat from the chaff and analysing, in each case successfully, what constituted primary research in each book, and what constituted secondary research, we broke for a five minute breather.

One of the most interesting pieces of analysis had come from student Tony Rose, a local firefighetr, living in Pevensey  Bay at Beachlands and working as a team manager at Eastboure Fire Station.

What struck me about the analysis that he had delivered in the lesson was two things. First there was a cogency in his thinking. Second his thoughts and words flowed like a consummate writer of some description.

Outside in the break, in the lovely decked garden that serves as the discussion centre of the community, there was an opportunity to talk to Tony first hand for the first time.

His craggy outside weatherbeaten health and warmth was striking.

There was a depth to his expression and a way of delivering what he wanted to say in short, pithy and engaging ways.

After an exchange about the value of his work, which presumably is something he hears every day, he nodded and then paused. ‘Look’. he said, ‘to be honest, I have not read many books, I don’t read them, but I do write, I have kept a diary since 2006′.

There was a moment, and perhaps the timing was right to say something. ‘That is why I am doing it’, I said.

Puzzled, looking at me, nodding and waiting for something more that might make sense, he just waited.

‘That is why I am doing this course, helping to write the book’, I continued.

I had already had the time to assess how much value Tony could potentially be, not just to the progress of the course, but to the progress in the writing of the book about Beachlands.

‘That is why I am doing it, so that you can say next year when the book comes out with a grin to people….  I do not read many books, but I have written one, as you hand it to them’.

Something close to a grin, together with an approving small nod lit his face  a little as we went back inside for the second half of the lesson.

Inside there was not a commotion, but something of interest to the whole group.

We had already begun with the information shared that the initial plans and sketch of the first 50 houses, had been rediscovered as the work of one of the most eminent provincial architects of the 20th century, T. Cecil Howitt.

Buried in a book, as Ken had been trying to tell us all through the first half of the lesson, was something that made us sit up and pay attention.

Ken delivered his line as if he had been practising what he was about to say for some time.

With his noted diplomacy and wit and cautious collective way delivering this thoughts, a twinkle appeared and a broad embracing smile lit his face.

‘You might like to look at this book’, he said. ‘It is by Finn Jensen, Modernist Semis and Terraces in England (2012). I found it in the local library. I would particularly suggest that you look in appendix 2, page 182′.

He laid out the book in front of the class with a double page spread, showing the page.

Kan had discovered in the appendix, an original news sheet from August 1934, published by the people described as the builders, Martin and Saunders and the estate developer and estate agent, Anderida, a piece of primary research, that ended the lesson on a high.

In the second paragraph, there was a description which was a surprise to everyone.

The width of Marine Avenue, as a dual carriageway, has always been something of a conundrum and taking point, why so wide?

Names like the Square, The Boulevard, names that suggest something more than a small estate comprised of a few roads.

The appendix explained what T Cecil Howitt had planned with his vision for Beachlands, as the news sheet explained, it was to have been ‘a modern town in its entirety’.