IN the late 1950s, the Wish Tower was derelict and in need of restoration; the surrounding moat was rat infested and filled with weeds and rubbish.
Councillor Gilbert Foyle and his sons Eric and John, offered to contribute half the cost of restoring the Tower, creating a surrounding garden and building a sun lounge and cafe.
The new building was to be a memorial to the people of Eastbourne who with fortitude had endured danger and hardship during the Second World War. There had been 95 air raids, during which 611 high explosive bombs and 26 oil bombs had been dropped on or around the town.
Gilbert Foyle, who had been with his brother William the joint owner of the largest bookshop in the world, especially wished residents and visitors to have free access to a sun lounge where they could read in peace and with outstanding views of sea and cliffs.
This, he considered, would be more appropriate as a memorial than some monument.
The scheme was duly completed and the Wish Tower Sun Lounge and Cafe was opened by the then Duke of Devonshire in 1961.
A notice on the building still records its significance as a war memorial and the generosity of the Foyle family.
The council has allowed this memorial to fall into such disrepair that they have apparently now reached a decision to pull it down.
There has been no consultation with the people of Eastbourne as to the loss of their memorial and in particular there has been no contact with John Foyle who lives close by.
No doubt, the council’s lessees will be blamed for allowing the building to fall into terrible disrepair, but the lease of the building must have contained the usual covenants by the lessee to put and keep the building in good repair and to give the council powers to make regular inspections and recover possession if repairs were not done.
A full independent inquiry is surely needed to show why the council allowed the Wish Tower premises, this war memorial, to fall into such drastic fatal disrepair and to advise as to the costs of restoration.