Contemporary Comments

Mr Tait

“Thorough grasp of the nature of the problem, was direct and simple in planning, and showed a masterly handling of the architectural treatment.”

Daily Express 1934

“perfect British sea front”

“the seaside town of tomorrow is going to be built at Bexhill-on-Sea today”

9th Earl De La Warr May 1936 on laying the foundation stone of the Pavilion

“In doing so I mark a great day in the history of Bexhill, for which we have rightly chosen a great day in the history of our nation. How better could we dedicate ourselves today than by gathering round this new venture of ours, a venture which is going to lead to the growth, the prosperity and the greater culture of this, our town; a venture also which is part of a great national movement virtually to found a new industry – the industry of giving that relaxation, that pleasure, that culture, which hitherto the gloom and dreariness of British resorts has driven our fellow country men to seek in foreign lands. It is the expression of our determination to make a town, and therefore a body a citizens of which His Gracious Majesty King George V, even in this his jubilee, may be justly proud.”

New Statesman 1936

“You could not find a stronger argument in favour of town planning than Bexhill, which is not so much a town as a chaotic litter of hideous houses sprawling higgledy piggledy along a lovely coast. Lord De La Warr, whose ancestors were responsible for this muddle has now made an act of reparation. The most satisfactory example of modern architecture I have seen in this country…One has the impression of being on a great transatlantic liner. The Functionalists can complain that the staircase on the North side is mere ornament and its great glass bay looks only on buildings better not looked at – but it is a good ornament. The traditionalist on the other hand will complain that this is not so much a pleasure pavilion as a pleasure machine, ominously appropriate to the standard amusements of Mr Huxley’s Brave New World.”

9th Earl De La Warr, writing re. Freedom of the borough

“I still feel it would be wiser for the matter to be deferred. It would naturally be pleasing to receive such an honour, feeling that it was with the approval of the Burgesses of Bexhill, but whilst so much controversy about the pavilion still exists, there would evidently be a certain number who would once again condemn the action of the council. I should naturally have been very proud and happy to receive such an honour, and you will easily understand that it is with grief and disappointment that I have come to this decision, but in the circumstances feel confident that I am adopting the only course possible.”

9th Earl De La Warr,

“We all of us want to maintain the existing character of the town, but we believe that we can make more of our existing resources.”
“My own view is if it is going to pay private enterprise it is going to pay the town.”

Sir Charles Reilly, Professor of Architecture at Liverpool University 1935

“There is the Bexhill concert hall, clean, elegant and efficient, without a break in walls or ceilings for piers or beams, a revelation from another planet in the rococo redness of that terrible town.”

Building Magazine

” One of the most significant buildings to be erected in this country in recent years”

“It performed the usual stunt of digging out a few of the oldest inhabitants and asking them for their prehistoric opinions. The old inhabitants were flattered and overwhelmed and no doubt their old heads wagged with joy when they saw their obsolete opinions given such prominence. We would as soon look to a teetotaller for a golden opinion of a drunken or to Mussolini for praise of Haile Selassi.”

Hannen Swaffer 1937, Daily Herald

” If only people knew, I am going round the English sea-coast, choosing a nice town of which I can become Mayor. So far I have chosen Bexhill.”

“The truth was that after the war Bexhill was ‘dying’. Its visitors declined in numbers. People were flocking abroad. There seemed to be little future for the town. Fortunately its ground landlord, Lord De La Warr, brought up in the Socialist faith – he ‘went over’ of course with Ramsay – was a man of foresight and courage.”

“Even today some Bexhill people think the pavilion either an eyesore or a white elephant. It costs the town, you see, an eightpenny rate.”

“Councilllor Corbett, standing for the first time last November, personnally canvassed every house in the Tory ward he was fighting. ‘Are you a Conservative?’ asked one woman. No, he replied. I am a Socialist. ‘Then I am afraid I can’t vote for you’ she said. ‘If you were a national Socialist it would not be so bad. Why the Socialists gave us that dreadful pavilion. It was Earl De La Warr’. He is a Nationalist Specialist explained Corbett walking away.”

“The De La Warr Pavilion stands on the sea coast, a challenge, not only to other towns, but a challenge to its own.”

Alderman Bending 1932, described the Council thus:

“Like a number of doctors standing around the patient’s bed arguing as to the best means of curing him, but, failing to agree as to a remedy, allowing the patient to continue to suffer and even grow worse.”

RIBA asked to nominate as a judge for the competition

“A man who was in touch with modern ideas of architectural development, in order that the younger generation of architects would feel that their plans would receive sympathetic and understanding treatment at his hands.”

The choice was that of the President of RIBA Sir Raymond Unwin and he chose Thomas S. Tait.

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