Having been a resident of the sleepy yet beautiful seaside town for the best part of my life, I've seen many changes, the good the bad, I've seen it all. And as much as people grumble about their home town (I have been guilty of this from time to time) I couldn't think of anywhere better to grow up and mould me into the person I am now.
It has often been labelled 'god's waiting room', and yes whilst it has a ridiculously high percentage of elderly moving to the town to see out their final days, it also has plenty to offer for those of us who grew up watching live n kicking and whacky races.
The icon of the town is of course the De La Warr pavilion standing proud on the seafront and has been the centre point for entertainment in the town for years. In years gone by its hosted 2 month long sell-out pantomimes, award winning comedians such as Lee Evans, Rich Hall and Alan Carr; as well as being the location for TV shows such as Question time and cash in the attic. It is also an attraction for multiple art projects throughout the year. For the kids they frequently run special days including circus skills workshops and recently an open aired cinema on the roof!! Eddie Izzard (who grew up in the town) regularly drops in to perform shows, and hosting the 'pride of the town' awards.
In years gone by the biggest money-spinner for the town was the 'Bexhill 100' a bank holiday spectacular celebrating the towns automotive racing history, showcasing cars of old and new, f1 cars, stunt displays from Russ Swift and drag races down the towns iconic seafront. It was the weekend where the town could flex its muscles and show it for all its worth. However these happy childhood memories are a thing of the past, however, after much protest the Bexhill 100 is slowly being restored to its former glory. The Bexhill 100 club now stages on the same may bank holiday, however it is now just a showcase of retro and vintage cars, but is still something to see.
Being a seaside town the summer is the time it comes to life, not only in there the Bexhill 100, but also the carnival parades right through the town, the old town and finishes with a weekend of concerts, fair grounds and fireworks. It's not quite Notting hill or the Rio carnivals, however it is the time where the community pulls together and celebrates the various established clubs and communities around the town.
As for nightlife in the town. There are many bars/ pubs and plentiful restaurants around the town; however it is not its shinning glory. The good news is that 20 minutes either side of the town is Hastings and Eastbourne where it has something to offer for everyone from clubs, shops, bar, restaurants and kids' activities.
The seafront in the past year has undergone controversial new re-development. Every new council that has come in has felt the need (for some Ludacris reason) to put their stamp on the town before they are dragged kicking and screaming out of office. The latest hair brained scheme was to create a new surface along the pavilion, new 'designer' wind shelters and flower beds. It gives for something to look at on a nice, romantic, relaxing walk along the idyllic front; however, I feel the money could have been re-invested better elsewhere.
Anyway rant over.
The bottom line is this town can relax the most uptight of people. I have now moved to Hertfordshire for university and the area stresses me so much I now appreciate my hometown more than ever. It's cheap to eat, drink and live. So whether just a day trip to the beach or looking to re-locate, I seriously recommend taking a look at this historic town.
Bexhill has become known by many as 'God's waiting room', and quite rightly so with a generally more aged society. However, as a young regular visitor of Bexhill-on-Sea I love the town and think that it is up and coming. The shops in the town may not be particularly attractive and there aren't masses of things to do but given some nice weather there are few places I'd rather be. The seaside itself is dominated by an bold, yet classy white Art Deco pavillion - a must for those with an interest in photography. Inside is a trendy arts centre with many events and exhibitions, a theatre, and a café which, although expensive, provides wonderful views of the sea through expansive glass walls. Of course there's the all essential sailing club, crazy golf course and lengthy promenade scattered with ice cream shacks and the such likes. There are other things to do including several museums but given the choice I'd be more than happy spending a sunny day on the Bexhill sea front.
I grew up in Bexhill, and remained in the town until I was 30 but by then I had my first child and I realised that this was not a town for the young. My descendents on my mothers side had lived in the town for decades and my parents still do, as does my younger sister but I decided to through caution to the wind and move to a more child friendly environment.
Bexhill-on-Sea is a sleepy retirement town set in magnificent countryside on the south coast of England within easy distance of a wealth of castles, historic attractions and places of interest in 1066 Country and East Sussex, for young and old alike. The town is 5 miles west of Hastings and about 10 miles East of Eastbourne. The proportion of retired people living there is the highest in Western Europe.
However despite the obvious seniority of the population, Bexhill does have a lot going for it. There is 3 miles of promenade so for a quiet afternoon stroll you can have it. On a windy day you can see for miles, Beachy Head looms to the East, the sailing boats sail along tranquilly from the local sailing club and on a sunny day you can sit on one of the many benches or on the shingle itself and indulge in an ice cream.
At one end of the Promenade is the Cooden Resort Hotel . Built by the 9th Earl De La Warr in 1931. The roundabout by the hotel was once the turn around point for trams. Walking along the beach you pass The Clock Tower which was originally intended for the Coronation of Edward VII in 1902 it was not completed until 1904. You will then pass the most famous building in Bexhill the De La Warr Pavilion. This is Bexhill's most famous building and featured in Poirots ABC murders on ITV. Built in the International Modernist style the pavilion was the first large public building to be built using a welded steel frame and opened, in 1935. Just along from the De La Warr you pass The War Memorial. Which was unveiled in December 1920 and next to it The Sailing Club which now occupies the site of Bexhills first entertainment pavilion The Kursaal built in 1896. In 1902 Britain held its first Motor race in Bexhill on Sea along the promenade from The Sackville Hotel to Galley Hill and reaching speeds of 54 mph the winner was a car designed by Leon Serpollet's and called Easter Egg Steam Car. At the time this was the fastest car in the world. The Promenade ends at Galley Hill where you can see the remains of a World War II bunker. Spike Milligan who was based at Bexhill from 1940 - 1942 wrote about this bunker in his book 'Adolf Hitler - My Part In His Downfall' and of course later referred back to the town in the Goon Show's 'The Dreaded Batter Pudding Hurler (of Bexhill-on-Sea)'.
If you get fed up with the beach, you can head slightly inland and visit Egerton Park, an ideal place to take young children with its beautifully cared for playground and it boating lake, tennis courts and bowling greens (of course!). The park is home to Bexhill Museum which has remained in its current location since 1914 and houses an impressive collection of objects.
Further in town you come to Bexhill Down a great place to walk the dog, or on summer evenings to play the Sussex game of stool ball for one of the local teams or watch the Cricket club in action. North of the Downs is The Down Mill. Also known as Hoad's Mill. The famous artist L.S. Lowry painted the mill shortly before its demise in 1960 Possibly dating from the 18th century the mill finally fell down in 1965 and only the stump now remains. The painting is in Bexhill Museum's collection. Next to the Down is The Drill Hall which was originally built for artillery volunteers in 1901 and the new Bexhill Leisure Centre. It is an indoor complex with gym and health suite, squash courts, climbing walls, and fitness rooms. It also has a sports hall which can be hired by members for a range of sports, a bar, a function room and a childrens play area.
In the Old Town you will find the Manor Gardens. The ruins mark the site where the Manor House built about 1250 used to stand. The Manor House was once home to the Bishops of Chichester, who at the time owned the town. You will also find St Peter's Church which is Saxon in origin with a Norman tower. It is considered to be the church mentioned in the Charter of 772 by King Offa.
The town centre has a good range of small shops for daily needs but it is not large and Eastbourne or Hastings would be better for serious shopping.
Bexhill has a number of good schools and colleges although outside of this there is not many places for young people to go. Again Hastings and Eastbourne cater for older teenagers with clubs and discos, but Bexhill does have a swimming pool and ten pin bowling alley on a nearby industrial estate but not within easy walking distance and at the end of a main A road so transport would be a necessity for most.
Unfortunately Bexhill is geared towards the elderly, especially those with money to spend which in Bexhill many have, there are few Parent and Toddler groups or indoor play areas where you can take your children, but should you need Age Concern you are fine. There are plenty of voluntary and public sector organisations specialising in care, churches, round-tables, social clubs, special interest groups and so on raising funds for older age groups but need something for the young and you will get laughed at as you leave.
After twenty eight years of living in Bexhill, I moved with my family to Kings Lynn and although I miss the people that I met through living for a long period of time in one place, they are easy to keep in touch with and as the majority of the people that I went to school with no longer live in the town, there are plenty of locations for me to go to if I need a weekend away. I do not miss Bexhill, my children can walk freely in town without being knocked into, tutted at, pushed about and I can sit on whatever bench I like without being informed that they are there for the elderly to sit on. Wake up Bexhill before you lose your young generation for good and then it will be too late.
It is a great town to live in if you are 65+ but under that or young at heart you need a younger, livelier location but for a short break to be within easy reach of the attractions of 1066 country why not.
Bexhill is a typical Sussex sea-side town, with an aging population, good facilities for leisure, and a well-kept environment, making it an attractive place to live or visit. It has the highest proportion of retired people in Western Europe (55%), and a casual visitor will be struck by the number of zimmers and electric trikes along the seafront. On the other hand, there’s lots of children and families too, taking advantage of the easy parking, the excellent beach and the absence of expensive theme parks and other commercial attractions. When I lived in Bexhill I found it has lot going for it. Firstly, its best not to focus on the age of the population. There is in Bexhill a substantial minority of people who actually work in real jobs, do the usual sporty and active things that other young people and families do, and also benefit from a beautiful sea front, outstanding facilities for leisure and relaxation and an overall quality of life which people from many towns would envy. So, what exactly is so good about the place. Well, I’d start with the seafront, with its three miles of promenade. You want a walk – you got it. Just head down to the prom on even a windy and wet day, when life is getting you down, and head east or west, then go back to the car. The views across the bay to Beachy Head, the boats from the sailing club skudding across the water, the spray in your hair and the noise of the waves will have perked you up. If its fine and sunny its therapy in itself, because Bexhill is an old-fashioned resort where it comes naturally to indulge simple pleasures like buying an ice-cream and sitting on the beach throwing stones at the sea-gulls (don’t worry, you’ll never hit one). Don’t forget to visit the De La Warr pavilion on the sea-front, a huge art deco concert hall with bars, sun-deck, and exhibition area. This is a world renowned building and if you do an Internet searc
h you’ll find various websites describing its importance in architectural history. Its also a nice place to visit and as you wander around you can appreciate the genius of its designer. If you get fed up with the beach, head inland and visit the many parks, country parks, and woods which can be found within a mile or two. There’s Egerton Park, an ideal place to take young children with its beautifully cared for playground and it boating lake, tennis courts and bowling greens (of course!). Or go to Little Common and walk across the country park, perhaps going on up Pear Tree Lane to Highwoods, an area of public access woodland with nature trails and walks signposted from the entrance. Bexhill Down, a great place to walk the dog, or on summer evenings to play “stool ball” for one of the local pub teams (a Sussex game somewhere between cricket and rounders and played originally with a milk-maids stool, but now with a round long-handled bat). If you want to go back to the sea again, don’t go down to the sea front but head west towards Cooden Beach. Go there on a hot summers evening if you can, when the tide is out and wander reflectively among the pools and sandbars, collecting shells and pulling up great lengths of seaweed as you go. Simple pleasure but when the mood is right, hard to beat. After your beachcombing session, the Cooden Resort hotel with its garden adjoining the beach, is a great place for a drink or a meal. Bexhill has all the usual facilities like a sports centre, a leisure pool, out of town super-stores, drive thru McDonalds, but also benefits from high levels of service from local tradesmen. It was a place I could find a plumber or a car mechanic without feeling I was being ripped off. There are men who will stick a tile back on a roof, or fix a broken up and over garage door without imposing a huge call-out charge on you. It seemed a friendly sort of place to live. Th
e town centre has a good range of small shops for daily needs but not a place to “go shopping” for which Brighton or Eastbourne would be better. It’s a bit depressing to see the vast number of charity shops in the town centre, but there is a good range of other shops too and certainly you could survive quite happily only shopping in Bexhill. What’s it like for children? Bexhill has a number of good schools and colleges, and although the population of the town is generally elderly, younger residents soon get to know each other and there’s the same community of families and children that you’d find anywhere else. And that beach, well, who could beat it in summer. Its common for people to gather on the beach after school and most of the schools will hold barbecues or other events there when the weather’s warm. Not so good for teenagers though, although nearby Eastbourne and Hastings have the usual range of pubs and clubs. Bexhill kids suffer the same social problems of anywhere else and drugs and heavy drinking are pretty normal for the usual proportion of them. I think Bexhill, like so many small towns, is one of those places you need to get away from when you reach a certain age and university or college offers a welcome escape for large numbers of the towns young people. Finally a word for the retired. I think the one thing you observe about the community of older people is just that – a community. There is a huge infrastructure of care in Bexhill, from voluntary and public sector organisations, churches, round-tables, social clubs, special interest groups and so on. The town is geared towards the needs of the elderly, particularly those with a bit of money, and services are freely available to cover all areas of life. However, I guess if you’re poorer its not so good. Look at the prosperous bungalows where people have migrated from London suburbs and life looks pretty good, with
new cars in the drive, a gardener to cut the lawn, and plenty of coffee mornings and lunch clubs to go to. But in the town centre where flat conversions are more the norm, rented bed-sits abound and I suspect it can be pretty lonely and depressing. So, a great place to live if you own your own property and have a good pension, but not quite to so nice otherwise. After ten years of living in Bexhill, I moved with my family to Guildford, from one extreme to the other – a quiet town by the sea to a place where business rules and leisure seems to be a thing of the past. Which do I prefer? Guildford is a vibrant town, with a sense of life and purpose, but Bexhill has many attractions too of a more reflective kind. Heck, I think I might go back there when I retire.
There are 20 people in Bexhill over 100 years of age. Bexhill has the reputation of being a boring retirement town with no nightlife, lots and lots of pensioners and a genteel Edwardian atmosphere. Its reputation is well deserved. I know I lived there. Bexhill is dull. This is its main distinguishing feature. If you want a big night out in Bexhill get the train out of Bexhill. There are a few nice pubs and restaurants in Bexhill but Bexhill is dead after around 10:30. The Ming Hwa on the high street is a nice Chinese restaurant and Louis Fish 'n' Chips is the best in the area. Try the banana fritter. There is a new Walkers wine bar next to the station and the Castle in Town Hall Square is almost lively on Saturday nights. You won't come to Bexhill for the nightlife or the fancy restaurants. Bexhill does have its advantages. The weather is quite good although being next to the sea does make it a bit windy at times. The beaches are all pebbled but there is sand when the tide goes out. In the summer the beach can be quite pleasant. Bexhill is quite a unique social phenomenon in itself. Nowhere else in the UK are there quite the same number of old people per square metre. Bexhill seems to be stuck in the past. The seafront has an Edwardian facade and the peeling paint and the run-down station gives the impression of a decaying town. There are some new housing developments and the house prices are quite buoyant but Bexhill will remain the same for a long time yet. But I don't think that is a problem. Bexhill's purpose is not to excite or to draw the crowds. Its purpose is to be quiet; to be somewhere you can grow old in peace and that is what it excels at.
Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex. Edwardian and stylish, that’s how it comes across to me. Great place for a break and there are loads of attractions to keep you busy or you can just chill out and take in the relaxing atmosphere. The promenade is wide and stretches for two miles with its splendid Victorian shelters so the pride of the town. There is a superb sandy beach and a pebble one, but both are kept in a very clean state, one of the nicest beaches I have seen for a while. In the 1900’s the seventh and eighth Earl De La Warr built themselves a new resort and Bexhill became the popular place to be with the Edwardian aristocracy. In fact in 1901 they built the first resort to accept mixed bathing it was a shock at the time with it being so soon after the Victorian era. Motor Racing came to Bexhill in 1902 organised by the Automobile Club; they say that this was the start of British motor racing. The Motor Heritage Centre at the Sackville and the Cooden Beach Heritage Gallery are places to visit and go back in time with motor racing history. If you are really a motor enthusiast the best time to visit is the first bank holiday Weekend in May each year; this is when the World famous Bexhill Festival of Motoring takes place. Book accommodation well in advance the town gets very busy. De La Warr Pavilion: On the promenade this building is an attractive centre and has a stunning theatre seating 1000 people, a gallery, café bar and impressive public rooms. Weddings are becoming popular here now. In the summer the sun terraces are used a lot for entertainment from plays to minstrel shows for the children. The architecture of this building is quite stunning and guided tours are on offer for a reasonable price. Shopping in Bexhill is quite good, there are a few well-known high street stores but the majority is small family run businesses From Antiques to designer clothes. Book
shops and second hand shops are popular too. The Old Town is quaint, full of Georgian buildings, and pretty little shops, a nice teashop and the local pub The Bell Hotel are well worth a visit. Not a town to visit for the youngsters who want nightlife, but great for young families and the few romantics that are left. Bexhill Tourist Information Centre Tel: 01424 732208
Before I moved here, I was told the local joke that old people live in Eastbourne, and their parents live in Bexhill. While there is an element of truth to that, there is lots more that Bexhill has which stands unrivalled on the South Coast. Imagine a resort where there are long beaches, with free parking, friendly shops and the smallest glimmer of crass commercialism, and you have Bexhill. It is almost undiscovered, possibly due to being not-so-easy to get to, and yet is cleaner than Eastbourne, quieter than Hastings, and safer than Brighton. There is a sense of pride in the town, that you can gauge, just by walking around it. House prices are very reasonable indeed, if you can cope with being one of the few locals under 60! Many people comment on the @jewel@ in the Bexhill crown, the De La Warr Pavillion. Built in the twenties (and viewed as a ship from the sea), it is Bexhill's premier (and in fact, only) venue for theatre and contemporary art. Despite the patronage, it is worth having a look, if only for the magnificent staircase, or even a hot chocolate! It even has its own one-screen cinema (the Curzon), showing both popular and more arthouse selections. All in all, a fantastic place for a break, a daytrip or to live.