NOSTALGIA: Eastbourne cartoonist kicks developer into touch over Seven Sisters

The cartoon shows Sussex Downsmen and an ill-fated developer SUS-180130-101336001
The cartoon shows Sussex Downsmen and an ill-fated developer SUS-180130-101336001

The recent piece about Liz Moloney’s booklet The People’s Downs brings to mind a cartoon that appeared in the Eastbourne Herald in 1926, writes Michael Ockenden.

In those days, the paper boasted its very own resident cartoonist, Albert Breach, who contributed under the name of Bee.

The Breach family were well known ‘Meadsites’.

Albert, who also ran a car hire business, had shown a talent for drawing while still at school and was the son of Charles Breach, a councillor and the builder responsible for much work in the town including the Meads Institute, St John’s Meads School in Rowsley Road and a major refurbishment of De Walden Court.

Before setting up on his own in 1890, Breach was foreman to Mr Harding, the local builder responsible for Hodeslea, the house built at the corner of Buxton Road and Staveley Road for Professor TE Huxley.

Charles and Albert were both passionate about the South Downs and staunch members of the Society of Sussex Downsmen.

It is therefore not surprising that Albert was prompted to draw a cartoon celebrating the rescue of the Seven Sisters from the clutches of a speculative builder.

Bee’s bespectacled, intellectual looking gentleman in a shepherd’s smock must surely be the Eastbourne newspaper proprietor, Arthur Beckett, president of the Sussex Downsmen and chairman of TR Beckett Ltd.

At the time there was a running gag concerning Beckett and smocks.

He wrote about them in his book The Spirit of the Downs (1909).

In 1914 he created great hilarity when he appeared in a smock at a dinner in Arundel and described how townspeople seeing him on the way there were astonished by his appearance.

He chaired the suppers of the Sussex Downsmen thus attired, and there are accounts of the Downsmen and the Men of Sussex holding an annual stoolball match at which all parties wore smocks.

The above was submitted by Michael Ockenden of Eastbourne Local History Society, with thanks to Steve Knowles, great-grandson of Bee, for the cartoon.

An article on the Breach family is planned for a future edition of the society’s journal.

For details of ELHS contact Diana Guthrie ( or telephone 419181.