Bexhill Entertainment

Without question the De La Warr Pavilion is the most famous and most important building in the town. Inspired by the socialist 9th Earl De La Warr it was built and opened in 1935 as a ‘peoples palace’ for residents of Bexhill and to promote the resort to tourists.

At the end of the 19th century the 7th Earl De La Warr began to develop his Bexhill estate into a fashionable new high-class resort with quality entertainment and a reputation for its health-giving environment.

The following list of dates charts the development of entertainment in Bexhill:

  • 1751 First documentary reference to the Bell Hotel, it assembly room was used for public meetings and by touring players making it Bexhill’s first entertainment venue.
  • 1884 Herr Stanislaus Wurm and his White Viennese Band hired until 1899.
  • 1887 Pier proposal off West Parade.
  • 1887 Victoria Hall opened.
  • 1895 York Hall opened.
  • 1898 a company was formed to build a winter garden on the Kursaal site.
  • 1896 Kursaal opened.
  • 1898 Pier proposal off Egerton Park.
  • 1899 Herr Moritz Wurm’s Blue Viennese Orchestra hired for the season.
  • 1900 Jimmy Glover becomes manager of Kursaal.
  • 1900 June 20th future 9th Earl born.
  • 1901 Pier proposal off Channel View.
  • 1903 Band Fund formed to help pay the De La Warr Orchestra.
  • 1905 Cadow’s Cadets perform in Egerton Park.
  • 1905 Bar added to Kursaal.
  • 1907 Public Health Amendment Act “Penny Rate” allows expenditure on entertainment.
  • 1907 “Bexhill Winter Gardens Ltd” formed to get a winter garden on Brockley Road.
  • 1907 Pier proposal off Devonshire Road by Council.
  • 1907 Christmas Edition of Bexhill Observer “Parable of the Cursehall” cartoon.
  • 1908 Kursaal sold to Mr Claude Johnson.
  • 1908 Park Pergola opened in Egerton Park.
  • 1909 Entertainments Association formed, included council members and public.
  • 1909 Poppies concert party perform in Park Pergola or the Park Shelter Hall if wet.
  • 1909 Approval given to build Central Parade.
  • 1909 Christmas Edition of Bexhill Observer “Battle of the Bands” cartoon.
  • 1910 May, roller-skating rink opened in Buckhurst Road.
  • 1910 Daily film shows at Kursaal.
  • 1910 The Bijou opened by Collard and Kinsella.
  • 1910 July, Central Parade opened.
  • 1911 Colonnade opened.
  • 1912 Storm damage to seafront.
  • 1912 The 8th Earl attempts to form a company to run the Kursaal.
  • 1912 Christmas Edition of Bexhill Observer “Something like an attraction” cartoon.
  • 1913 Council buys East Parade, De La Warr Gates torn down in December.
  • 1913 Christmas Edition of Bexhill Observer “Everybody’s wanting it” cartoon.
  • 1915 8th Earl De La Warr dies.
  • 1921 Unsuccessful attempt to open the former roller-skating rink as a winter garden.
  • 1923 April, Commercial Association resolve that an entertainments hall needed on seafront.
  • 1925 Corporation Act allows public expenditure on entertainment facilities.
  • 1925 Extensive alterations to the Kursaal.
  • 1926 Adams, Thompson & Fry commissioned to write General Development Plan.
  • 1927 Council bid to buy the Kursaal fails.
  • 1928 Outer promenade for Colonnade began.
  • 1929 Outer promenade for Colonnade finished.
  • 1930 General Development Plan published.
  • 1930 General Development Plan – includes plan for entertainments Pavilion.
  • 1930 Jan, Cllr A. Turner Laing outlines his proposal for a £50,000 Entertainments Hall, design by Tubbs & Messer.
  • 1930 August, coastguard station closed.
  • 1932 Philip York and his Country Players begin repertory at the Kursaal.
  • 1933 April, 9th Earl proposes a £50,000 scheme – almost universally supported.
  • 1934 Model built for public inquiry in order to secure loan.
  • 1935 March, visit by King George V and Queen Mary.
  • 1935 May, commemorative plaque laid by Earl De La Warr.1936 June, Earl declines Freedom of the Borough.
  • 1935 July, municipal scheme for swimming pool in Colonnade, later rejected.
  • 1935 October, Council buys the Kursaal – it now owned all the seafront.
  • 1935 December, Royal opening by Duke and Duchess of York.
  • 1936 November, Bernard Shaw attends a production of his play ‘The Millionairess’.
  • 1940 Bomb damage to Pavilion.
  • 1944 Dilapidation report by Johannes Schreiner.
  • 1955 Metropole demolished.
  • 1961 The council stops shops in Egerton Park theatre.
  • 1963 Harbour scheme proposed and dropped.
  • 1972 Lift, wheelchair ramp and fire-screen installed.
  • 1986 The De La Warr Pavilion is listed as a grade 1 building.
  • 1989 Pavilion Trust formed.
  • 1990 Repair work begins.
  • 2000 Attempt made to sell the De La Warr Pavilion to a pub chain.
  • 2001 Pavilion not sold and Lottery money sought for its refurbishment.
  • 2002 Plans revealed and money secured for the restoration of the De La Warr Pavilion.

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