Tag Archives: beachy head

Before I leave Beachy Head

1 Jun

I may have run out of postcards of Beachy Head for the time being, but before I leave the subject of Beachy Head I would like to share the description from the 1898 edition of Black’s Guide to Sussex and its Watering Places.

Beachy Head is described in the chapter on Eastbourne, which it describes as:

This young town, though its population numbers only as yet some 40,000, is the most distinguished watering-place on the Sussex coast, still growing as an example of what can be done by enterprise and judicious patronage along with natural advantages

The description itself is under the heading of Excursions from Eastbourne:

Beachy Head is of course the chief lion here, rising grandly to a height of over 500 feet, about 2 miles west of the town. (Cab fare, with fifteen minutes’ stop, 6s.) There are, at least, three routes-the new carriage drive, bending back over the Downs by the Racecourse ; a middle way that starts from Meads by the back of the Convalescent Hospital, the easiest for walking ; and the rough path by the cliff edge ; or one might take the beach, if the tide be not coming in, whence a path mounts the chalky cliffs to the Coastguard Signal House.

It is clear from the guide that Beachy Head was already attracting plenty of visitors:

On this part of the Downs, there is little likelihood of going astray for want of fellow travellers. Once the climb is over, we have an easy walk over elastic turf that makes walking a delight, unless in very dry weather, when the footing may be slippery. The highest point is marked by the Signal Station, behind which an hotel and restaurant has been established as a branch of the Queen’s/ The view is an extensive one in clear weather, taking in the Isle of Wight, and sometimes even the French coast. Unless by the path below the Signal Station, already mentioned, visitors would do well to be cautious in scrambling upon the crumbling chalk edges, where several accidents have taken place.

This edition of Black’s Guide to Sussex and its Watering Places was the eleventh edition, published in 1898 by Adam and Charles Black of London, England.

Picture Postcard Parade: The Old Belle Toute Lighthouse

31 May

I think this will be the last of my Beachy Head postcards for now, it is time I got back to some more family related postcards. This is one I picked up at the South of England Postcard at Woking, Surrey last weekend.

The Old Belle Toute Lighthouse

This is very similar to the one I showed you three weeks ago, in fact almost identical. The reason I bought this one is for the cachet on the back.

The back of The Old Belle Toute Lighthouse

According to the book Beachy Head by John Surtees this particular cachet was in use before 1920, but I have no other clue about who published this and when. There were apparently four different cachets used by the Watch Tower, I showed you one of the other designs a couple of weeks ago. I just have to find examples of the other two now.

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.

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