LETTER: We need a Leaf and a Foyle

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It is easy to pooh pooh Eastbourne ideas: history trails, sculpture out of fire damage. No thanks.

I really do not understand why Eastbourne is getting public money to pay back a disaster fund to help pier people (one of whom has been told he is out, because the lease ended and the pier company wants to do his sweets business) and bankroll a “signature restaurant” that private money will not sign.

“We can fix the rotten steps to the camera obscura,” says the pier manager tellingly.

Ask Bovis Homes, Eastbourne does not need anything to be a destination.

What we do need is people like William Leaf and Gilbert Foyle to find money under their mattresses. What a success story it is, the two Foyle brothers in London cooking sausages in a back room and selling books to make their fortune. When the Wish Tower Café and Sun Lounge was built, to top off landscaping the Martello tower, after WW2, they celebrated 60 years in business. It was what it was, a self-service café and place to read a book, but against the background of two world wars, and segregation, it was saying, “Come in, this is England!”

Outside was the nautical sculpture and fishpond war memorial to the town’s fortitude, from which to gaze across the grey channel to Normandy, and think a bit about D-Day 1944.

The Leaf Hall survived the bombs, Eastbourne’s first public building in the 1860s. It is a success story today with people working together to maintain it.

Step back carefully in the road and you can see an eagle clutching a leaf above the porch with the motto, “Folium Non Defluet”, the psalmist’s imagery for salvation, a Victorian pun Leaf-fall, and a promise, “No leaf will fall”.

Andrew Somerville,

Upperton Gardens.