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THIS WEEK Bay Hotel sold: Feature interview with Karen Hudson, manager


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LETTERS Successful campaign to site defibrillator in Market Square Pevensey

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Interesting to see the work of Karen Hudson, manager at the Bay Hotel and her team with their latest endeavour, a tagged exhibition of famous signatures of people that have stayed at the hotel which was the watering hole and hideaway hangout to a number of known socialites and comedy legends from the fifties and sixties.—Bay Life, 12 September 2018

Novel Pop Up Exhibition: Latest in line of signature ideas from Karen Hudson and her team at Bay Hotel

Karen, who has been in post for little more than a year, has demonstrated the kind of elan that has brought new attention to the Bay Hotel, bringing the limelight to new musical talent in the locality with her open mic nights, as well as a series of well received family events and novel special events like the Friends of Pevensey Bay Library book fayre.

With a stack of ideas, the work of her able team and a perspective on arts, culture, history and cinema, her latest endeavour might just get the attention of a number of writers and historians of comedy.

The exhibition, comprised of a nine panel board, looks at first sight like the kind of graffiti tags that you might see on a train out of Euston Station, but look a little closer and you will see that each of the panels is comprised of a signature of a socialite or comedy legend who stayed at the Bay Hotel.

Like a local tourist trail, a simple tube style map will act as a guide to each signature. and their place in the circle of the social scene in the fifties.

Author Suzie Dawkins, is currently researching a biography about Sabrina (1950′s blonde bomshell), who stayed at the Bay Hotel. She explains that she is ‘hoping the book will put Sabrina back in the limelight as I strongly feel she is ‘up there’ with the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Diana Dors’.

Whilst the signature of Sabrina, who stayed at the Bay Hotel, does not feature in the pop up exhibition, nonetheless some of the people have a kind of cross-over sense.

For example the socialite Prince Aly Khan, son of the Aga Khan and husband to Rita Hayworth, stayed at the hotel and his signature does appear, as does the signature of comedy legend, the lad himself, Tony Hancock, who stayed at least once in 1959.

Researcher Deborah Sadki discovered a character in an episode of Hancock’s Half Hour, titled “Aly Aga Khancock”.

Cinderella Hancock is episode 11, series 3, broadcast on 28.12.55.

The Tony Hancock Appreciation Society comments “in true pantomime fashion, Bill forces Hancock to do the housework and forbids him to go to the National Film Ball. However, he manages to escape and goes as Sheikh Aly Aga Khancock but his costume has to be back by midnight”.

These kinds of coincidence and cross over indicate something of the flavour of the times in the fifties, the spirit present at the Bay Hotel,. The Tagged Exhibition catches a little of this spirit, as a kind of passing momentary flash.

The signature research has been conducted by Lynda Leventon, daughter of Stan and Muriel Love, the publicans at the Bay Hotel between 1954 and 1971.

She lived at the hotel as a child and remembers being introduced to both Sabrina and Tony Hancock when they stayed at the hotel.

With her sister, she has faithfully trawled through the guest register between 1954—1959. looking for the signatures of known people.

One other aspect of the life of the hotel in the fifties, is as a possible place on the history map of situation comedy in the country.

Julie Warren, who is cousin to Larry Stephens, one of the writers of the Goon Show, is writing a book about his life titled Glarnies, Green Berets & Goons: The Life and Legacy of Larry Stephens.

What Julie Warren discovered in the script with the location setting bore an uncanny resemblance to elements of Pevensey Bay.

An extract of her new book about the Goons writer, Larry Stephens was published in a recent edition of the Pevensey Bay Journal.

In a blogpost to accompany the book she says “In July 1952, Larry Stephens approached BBC Producer, Peter Eton, with a suggestion: he had come up with an idea for a comedy series, entitled Vacant Lot, to star Tony Hancock as a blundering and pompous auctioneer and estate agent, in a fictional seaside town called Churdley Bay.

“I have always wondered if Churdley Bay was based on anywhere in particular. Hancock biographers mention Eton taking Larry and Tony on a recce to Seaford and that Vacant Lot’s setting was therefore this Sussex coastal town but I have been unable to find any evidence of such a trip.

“I did, however, come across a letter written by Larry to Eton in which he mentions borrowing a guide book and describes the section on Seaford as one of the funniest things he has ever read. No doubt elements from the guide book made it into Vacant Lot but a recent announcement may have thrown up another strong contender for Churdley Bay’s location.

“A pilot arts and literature festival is taking place at Pevensey Bay. A ‘Memories from the 1950s’ exhibition will be held at the Bay Hotel and the hotel’s registers from those years will be put on display. Some notable guests are known to have stayed there, among them Tony Hancock;

“Churdley Bay and Pevensey Bay certainly share some features: both have a Martello tower and a shingle beach, for example. What’s more, a former owner of the Royal Hotel in the fictional Churdley Bay is called Mr Pevensey”.

What is well known is that both Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan were regular visitors to Pevensey Bay. The Goon Show is littered with references to Pevensey Bay.

The pop up exhibition of guest signatures at the hotel includes Tony Hancock, the father of Peter Sellers, and Prince Aly Khan,

Tagged: the Exhibition, the nine panel board pops up at the Bay Hotel soon, dates for the ad hoc exhibition, Bay Life understands, are likely to be from a Monday to Friday in October.

Talking to Bay Life, manager of the Bay Hotel, Karen Hudson said (11 September), “I have a whole host of ideas in the coming months, one of the things that I want to do is to see that the history of the hotel is represented with these ideas”

Tagged: The Exhibition is sponsored by Pevensey Bay based AD Signs and Graphics.