Place of Interest:
The red roofed shelter on Bexhill’s East Parade is one of the original shelters built on Earl De La Warr’s private estate in about 1895.
Bexhill itself is an ancient settlement dating back to at least the 8th century but it wasn’t until the end of the Victorian period that it began to resemble the town we know today. The development of Bexhill-on-Sea began in 1883 under the 7th Earl De La Warr but it was his son and heir Viscount Cantelupe who really promoted the town, encouraging innovation and modelling it after a continental seaside resort. The 7th Earl died in 1896 and Cantelupe became the 8th Earl De La Warr. He had the Sackville Gates built at the bottom of Sea Road in 1895 to close off East Parade after an unsuccessful attempt to sell it to the town and began to create a fashionable new promenade.
He had hired Stanislaus Wurm and his White Viennese Band to play on the seafront in 1894 and they soon became a regular attraction for summer visitors. An early member of the Band was the composer Gustav Holst and it is said that he would sometimes visit his friends and perform with them on Bexhill seafront. The bandstand that they used has survived although it is reduced in height and is now the shelter near the Bexhill Sailing Club. Could it be this bandstand that is referred to in the lyrics of Sovereign Light Cafe?
Fittingly, the Bexhill Classic Cycle Group and local BMXers took part in the Sovereign Light Cafe music video, which was filmed along this section of the then new parade, in Victorian times known as Bicycle Boulevard (which later became Britain’s first motor racing track).