OUT IN THE FIELD: Jones Bootmaker to close and some cab drivers take punters for a ride
Sad news that Jones Bootmaker is closing its doors in July. It had a long connection with Eastbourne dating back to the 1940s when the company, formed in 1857 by Alfred and Emma Jones, expanded and opened a warehouse in the town. The company's fortunes began to fail in 2017 and despite an eleventh hour deal to save some stores, the Terminus Road branch was earmarked for closure. Way back when, it was the go to place for babies' first shoes with lovely staff measuring little tootsies and then in later years when their trotters got bigger, for sensible school shoes. It's clearly a sign of the times that the store is closing but sad when you think the shop has been there since the Second World War and an empty unit is looming at a time of such massive regeneration in the town centre.
The bid to put a new car tyre and valet business within Langney Shopping Centre car park has ruffled a few feathers and a decision will be made by town planners. Whatever happens, I hope part of the multi-million pound improvements will include resurfacing what is left of the car park because at present driving around it is like riding on the waltzer at the fairground.
The campaign to save the little red telephone box on Lion Hill at Stone Cross and install a defibrillator inside is gaining momentum and a particularly nice story has emerged via Joan Masters, who lives in Kent. Joan’s mother was a wardrobe mistress to the late Peter Sellers, and the comedian often made trips to Eastbourne, accompanied by the mother and daughter on several occasions. On one such trip to the coast, Joan’s trusty Hillman Minx came to grief on Lion Hill. Joan recalls, “Like the true gentleman he was, Mr Sellers dashed out in the pouring rain to call for assistance from ‘our little red telephone box’ as it became known. Whenever I see a red telephone box I remember that frightful evening with fondness. As the old saying goes: “Not a lot of people know that.”
It seems a fair few taxi drivers at Eastbourne Railway Station are still ignorant about local roads and some are taking fare paying passengers on a right old merry ride to their destination via some weird and wonderful – and downright more expensive – routes. The danger is that tourists are being had. One driver, who picked up a friend of mine, tried but was rumbled and knew the game was up. Not sure what Eastbourne council can do but something needs to be done soon.