Tag Archives: beachy head

Beachy Head: Getting Personal

28 May

Recently I have been sharing postcards of Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, East Sussex on my blog. Yesterday I mentioned that people have been visiting Beachy Head for decades, and one of those people was my 2x great-uncle Percy Ebenezer TROWER.

In one of his diaries he records an excursion on the 30th June 1928, presumably by coach or bus, from Brighton (B’ton) with his future wife Kate (K). They were married five years later in 1933.

Sunday July 1/28

Yesterday K & I went to B’ton by the 1.33 bus & then took a trip to Eastbourne 2.50 till about 6. A fine day but very windy. We went to Beachy Head & thence to Eastbourne & home through Lewes. The journey through Newhaven I preferred where we are nearly always within sight of the sea. These & similar facts are written for perusal many years hence when scenes have changed. This is a record of a pleasant afternoon that my love & I spent when she was 18 & I 30. I may in years to come live again our ride by the sea on that windy day in June when K was still a girl in her youth & freshness.

Beachy Head, ’twas 10 years, ten years since I last saw you, – in 1918 – during my sojourn at Summerdown Camp. Many faces, many happenings come again to memory, memories of ten years ago, memories of unsettled years, memories of days gone for ever. They were [unreadable] sad days but many happy memories remain. How well I remember my scottish companions of my marquee, & their scottish accents.

But I must get to bed & sleep.

Summerdown Camp was the army convalescent hospital on the outskirts of Eastbourne where Percy spent a month recovering from a gun shot wound received during the First World War, but that is another story (and another collection of postcards).

The route from Brighton and Eastbourne is one of my favourite bus journeys. There is a regular bus service that stills runs “nearly always within sight of the sea”, offering some spectacular views of the coastline and countryside alike from the top of a double decker bus. There is a slightly different service at weekends, that actually takes you right up to Beachy Head if you don’t fancy the walk. Details are available from Brighton and Hove Buses website (services 12 and 13X).

Picture Postcard Parade: On Beachy Head

27 May

What better way to spend the coming bank holiday than a visit to Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, East Sussex? Well it will probably be raining this year so it might not be so good this year, but people have been visiting Beachy Head for pleasure for decades.

On Beachy Head

I’ve no idea if this was a bank holiday, or what time of year this photo was taken, but there are certainly plenty of people exploring the cliff top and enjoying the views, more so then I was there recently.

The people on this card are perhaps a little close to the edge, they are certainly closer than I got on my recent visit. Nothing spoils a good walk more than falling off a cliff or the cliff falling away from beneath your feet!

This card was published by Valentines, and although the postcard has been used, the bottom half of the date is missing, so I can’t see when it was posted, but I would imagine it dates from around 1910.

Coincidently the first episode of the latest series of Ramblings on BBC Radio 4 features Clare Balding exploring Beachy Head with a group of disabled ramblers. The episode is currently available on the BBC iPlayer.

Picture Postcard Parade: Beachy Head Lighthouse and Devils Chimney

17 May

Here is another postcard of Beachy Head Lighthouse, near Eastbourne, East Sussex. This one includes part of the cliff as well, Devils Chimney, the pinnacle of chalk with two seagulls perched on top.

Beachy Head Lighthouse and Devils Chimney

The view on the front of the card is not that outstanding, aside from the typo in the caption the most interesting thing for me about this card was the cachet on the back.

Beachy Head Lighthouse and Devils Chimney (back)

A cachet is a printed or stamped design, not the same as the cancellation (or postmark) that it gets when it passes through the postal system, which was added to the piece of mail for some special reason.

In this case the cachet indicates that the card was sold at the Watch Tower, Beachy Head. According to the book Beachy Head by John Surtees (S.B. Publications, 1997) an alternative use had been found for the Watch Tower.

Between the wars, when the Watch Tower was no longer needed for its original purpose, it was transformed into a kiosk selling postcards to holidaymakers. The octagonal building was lantern-shaped with a weathervane on the roof, and each of the eight walls had a window. Postcards (some of which showed the semaphore masts) could be sent from the kiosk and bore the cachets “Watch Tower, Beachy Head” within a double-line diamond (1920), or an oval (1935). This correspondence was sent en-masse to the Eastbourne sorting office and cancelled there in the usual way.

The book illustrates three other different styles of Watch Tower cachet which I will have to look out for. I don’t imagine that they are that rare given the number of visitors that must have made their way up to Beachy Head.

Picture Postcard Parade: The Old Lighthouse – Beachy Head

10 May

Last week I showed you a postcard of the current Beachy Head lighthouse, now it is the turn of the old Beachy Head lighthouse, also known as Belle Tout lighthouse (named after the cliff on which it sits).

The Old Lighthouse - Beachy Head

Like the previous postcard there is no clue as to the publisher or the date it was published, other than a divided back which dates it after 1902. This is confirmed by the fact that the caption refers to "the old lighthouse".

The new lighthouse took over from the old lighthouse in 1902. The lighthouse began protecting shipping to the west of Eastbourne, East Sussex in 1828, and after it was replaced by the new lighthouse the building was converted to a private residence.

The lighthouse still stands today, and although it has been featured in several television programmes, the most interesting chapter in it’s history came in March 1999 when the entire building (all 850 tons of it) was pushed 55 feet further away from the cliff edge by hydraulic jacks.

Picture Postcard Parade: Beachy Head Lighthouse, Eastbourne

7 May

The lighthouse at Beachy Head just to the west of the town of Eastbourne, East Sussex is a well known and well photographed landmark. Naturally there is no shortage of postcards of the lighthouse and the cliffs, but this one is probably one of the finest I have seen.

Beachy Head Lighthouse, Eastbourne

This postcard was published by Valentines, but I don’t know when, probably around 1910-20. The postcard has a divided back, which dates it after 1902, which doesn’t really help because that is when the lighthouse was constructed.

This lighthouse was built as a replacement for an earlier lighthouse which stood up on the cliff top (rather than at sea level) and slightly further to the west at Belle Tout. The lighthouse was automated in 1983 and still warns off shipping, at the same time as attracting hundreds of sightseers to the cliffs above.

More wandering, starting the South Downs Way

27 Apr

As if walking the North Downs Way wasn’t enough, I have started walking the South Downs Way (SDW) as well. I say started, but I don’t know when I shall finish, or indeed when I shall walk the next part, but I have at least made a start.

Start of the South Downs Way

The photo above shows the start (or end) of the SDW, in Eastbourne, East Sussex. It is right on the western edge of the town, and is about 1½ miles from the railway station mainly through residential streets.

I have decided to do this walk alone, in fact it was partly the solitude and time to think that I wanted to experience and was my reason for starting today. It also means that I can go at my own speed and stop at places of interest on the way, without having to worry about inconveniencing anyone else. I know that when I get further west I will be in ancestral territory and my pace will no doubt slow down dramatically.

This first section was according to the guide book 7½ miles, from Eastbourne to Exceat, by way of Beachy Head, Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters. I have been to all these places before, but have never walked them all in one go.

There is so much history in this landscape. From prehistory to the Second World War. The cliff top at Beachy Head is littered with monuments and other features that attest to this rich history.

My pace today wasn’t particularly fast, partly because I haven’t done much serious walking yet this year, but mainly because I kept stopping the take photos. I had forgotten how beautiful and striking the landscape was. The photo below is of one of the most striking features, Beachy Head lighthouse.

Beachy Head Lighthouse

Birling Gap is a small group of buildings that have gathered around an access point to the beach. The buildings are gradually disappearing into the sea as the cliffs slowly erode, but whilst they remain they act as a honey pot to tourists and visitors to the coast.

Heading west from Birling Gap are the Seven Sisters, a range of cliffs with which I have something of a love-hate relationship. I love the challenge of tackling the rise and fall of the hills, and admire the fabulous views, but once I get started I usually regret it, when my legs start to complain. Every year they seem to get steeper!

Seven Sisters

The best views are of course not from the Sisters themselves, but from Birling Gap (shown above) or Seaford Head (on the far left of the photo). It is possible (although I am not sure that it is advisable) at low tide to walk along the foot of the cliffs.

Last year after my holiday in South Devon I thought that the Sussex coastline was quite dull in comparison to that of South Devon, but today I have changed my mind. I think I have definitely fallen in love with chalk!

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