Tributes to bedridden Tony who died in Old Town fire

Tony Hamilton, pictured 18 months ago at his home in Salehurst Road.
Tony Hamilton, pictured 18 months ago at his home in Salehurst Road.

Tributes have been paid to a bedridden recluse who died when fire swept through his Old Town home at the weekend.

Firefighters discovered the body of 65-year-old Noel Hamilton, known as Tony, in the bedroom of his home in Salehurst Road after being called to a report of a blaze in the two-storey terraced house at 8.30pm on Saturday night.

The road, between Victoria Drive and Green Street, was cordoned off for several hours as fire crews and police officers were at the scene.

An investigation is underway into what caused the fire which is believed to have started in the kitchen.

Neighbours and friends said Mr Hamilton, who celebrated his birthday on Christmas Day, was a former architect who travelled the world working but had been bedridden and lived as a recluse for the last 18 months.

He never ventured outside and his only visitors were his carers from the Helping Hands care agency.

After a fall Mr Hamilton’s condition had deteriorated and only last week he was released from Eastbourne DGH.

His friend Wolfgang Feeney who was often mistaken for Tony’s son, said he was shocked to hear about the fire.

“I would visit him every day up until recently and he had definitely gone downhill,” said Mr Feeney, who runs Wolf Enterprizes in the industrial estate off Green Street.

“He never got out of bed, he couldn’t and carers went in several times a day to look after him.”

Mr Feeney said that before Mr Hamilton became a recluse he was a well-respected architect and had lived with his mother Sonia in the house in Salehurst Road until she died.

He also said Mr Hamilton, who never married or had children, had been a regular at the Tally Ho Pub nearby when it was open and the Hurst Arms.

“He was a real character,” Mr Feeney.

Emma Basham at Helping Hands said, “He will be missed very much by his carers.”

A spokesperson at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said, “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of a man who died following a fire in Eastbourne. A full investigation is underway following the incident over the weekend. Three crews were sent to a house in Salehurst Road and firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used two hose reels to tackle a kitchen fire.

“Firefighters entered the property and discovered a 65-year-old man, who sadly died.”

An inquest into Mr Hamilton’s death has been opened and adjourned by East Sussex coroner Alan Craze.