OUT IN THE FIELD: Preserve the oldest building in Eastbourne

Peter Gaimster, Chief Inspector Emma Brice and Rob Cottrill enjoy the thrills of Airbourne
Peter Gaimster, Chief Inspector Emma Brice and Rob Cottrill enjoy the thrills of Airbourne

Minstrelgate – the rumpus caused when a photo of traditional ‘blacked up’ minstrels performing on Eastbourne seafront in the late 19th and early 20th century was removed from a heritage trail board at Pavilion gardens – continues unabated this week. Last week Eastbourne council said it had removed the photo after receiving complaints and that heritage trail boss Alan Wenham agreed it should be removed. It turns out now that was not the case: there was one complaint from a council officer and in Mr Wenham’s own words, he did the opposite and said the photo should remain as it would be unwise and inappropriate to sanitise history in this way. Nevertheless the council did remove the photograph and replaced it with a vapid picture of an all-white 1920s beach troupe of pierrots. That, I do believe, bears about the same relationship to Minstrelsy as Jaws does to formation swimming.

As someone who follows planning matters avidly there seems to be a huge number of applications going before the council to turn vacant offices into residential accommodation. Walk along most roads off The Avenue now and you can see the old Inland Revenue and Crown Prosecution Service building getting a new lease of life as flats and EF accommodation student accommodation where there once was an office block. One of the latest applications is in regard to Upperton farmhouse as it was in Enys Road, a beautiful listed building which over the years has been home to the Eastbourne Club, Seymour Mullens and currently occupied by The Conference People. The bid is to turn it into six one and two bedroom flats. I know we need homes for people but I hope town planners keep their eye on the ball and ensure the conversion doesn’t deter from what is a stunning building and among the oldest in the town.

Hats off once again to Eastbourne council events team for putting on yet another great Airbourne. The concrete barriers and possibility of armed police to deter any potential terrorist attack – or maybe it was the Shoreham Air Show tragedy – and the fact the Red Arrows could only make it for two days due to other commitments may have had an effect on the number of folk visiting, but it really was one of the best.

The tragic double fatal crash on King Edwards Parade on Friday night is devastating. A young mum and her partner died at the scene despite the very best efforts of not just the emergency services but many passers-by who rushed to help. Condolences to the families of Maria and Richard.

Finally, happy birthday to the lovely Diane Kelly along with huge congratulations to Donna Carter and Tony Donovan, who tied the knot this week, and to Michelle Eldridge and Owen Radley, who will be walking down the aisle Bank Holiday Monday. Well done guys and hope you have many long and happy years together. I am off to the Emerald Isle for my annual Guinnessfest and to catch up with the rellies so see you in two weeks.

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