Death of Eastbourne war memorial campaigner

New sign @ Wish Tower Sun Lounge and Cafe.

John Foyle (son of Gilbert Foyle) with the new sign.
New sign @ Wish Tower Sun Lounge and Cafe. John Foyle (son of Gilbert Foyle) with the new sign.

John Foyle, whose family provided funds to build the old Wish Tower Restaurant and Sun Lounge as a memorial to Eastbourne people who died in wartime bombing, has passed away.

Mr Foyle, who was 96, was the younger son of the co-founder of Foyles bookshop in London. He went on to expand the educational side of the business worldwide, in particular to Commonwealth countries.

The original Foyles shop started in 1903 and continued to grow to become the world’s largest bookshop for some 60 years.

In 1921 John’s father, Gilbert, formed Foyles Educational Ltd in London, later moving the business to Sussex.

John saw service in World War Two as a captain in the Royal Engineers, returning afterwards to the family business which flourished under his stewardship.

Gilbert Foyle retired to Eastbourne and established the familiy’s links with the town, which included service as a borough councillor. John married Margaret in 1952 and they and their three children lived first in London and later in Sussex.

John finally settled in Eastbourne in 2003.

It was in 1961 that he and his father and brother Eric provided a substantial sum to enable the council to build the Wish Tower Restaurant and Sun Lounge as a memorial to bombing victims.

The building fell into severe disrepair and was demolished in 2012.

Gilbert Foyle had earlier purchased for the town the area of Downland which includes Beachy Head, funded new instruments for Eastbourne Silver Band and donated to the town a full set of Dickens first editions, which are now in the county archive.

John Foyle continued to support endowment and educational programmes until blindness overtook him in 2008.

He died peacefully at his home in Meads on July 31, where he had been cared for in recent months by his daughter Debbie. He also leaves his wife, Margaret, and sons Lance and Robert.

An announcement regarding the funeral, which will be held in Eastbourne, will follow.

Mr Foyle had been prominent in the recent campaign to have a permanent memorial built at the Wish Tower after the council demolished the restaurant and sun lounge.

John Foyle is pictured in 2007 with the plaque acknowledging the family’s role in providing the Wish Tower Restaurant and Sun Lounge.

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