bexhill-car

Bexhill-On-Sea is a small town on the South coast of England, situated on the main A259 trunk road between the popular seaside towns of Eastbourne and Hastings. The population of the town is thought to be around 40,000 inhabitants and gets its name from the Anglo-Saxon name Bexelei.

Early historical records show that the town first came into existence in 772 AD when King Offa granted land to build a church. It is recorded that King Offa defeated the men of Hastings in 771 AD.

In 1066, Bexhill or Bexelei was apparently occupied by William the Conqueror and his troops as they prepared to fight King Harold. When he had defeated King Harold in Battle at the Battle of Hastings, he awarded the town to Robert, the Count of Eu. It was the Count of Eu’s grandson, John who gave the manor grounds back to the Bishop of Chichester in 1148 where it is thought that they then proceeded to build the first Bexhill Manor at the top of what is now known today as De La Warr Road.

There have been numerous families that have held prominence in Bexhill-On-Sea throughout recent centuries including the De Lyvet family who have owned land across Sussex.

In 1590, Queen Elizabeth acquired Bexhill Manor and three years later passed this property into the hands of a trusted aide, Thomas Sackville, Earl of Dorset who was then the Baron of Buckhurst. The Earls of Dorset owned Bexhill-On-Sea until the mid-19th Century.

The town was plagued, along with the rest of the South Coast of England with smuggling with this being particularly rife in the early 19th century with notable gangs including The Little Common Gang, led by George Gillham, who played a part in the ferocious smuggling battle of Sidley Green in 1828. This occurred where the New Inn on Ninfield Road is situated and is where you can find many smuggling tunnels leading towards the Sea.

In the 1860’s Elizabeth Sackville married the 5th Earl De La Warr and together they inherited Bexhill-On-Sea. Towards the late 19th century, the 7th Earl De La Warr laid his plans out to develop the small town of Bexhill-On-Sea into a thriving seaside resort. Unfortunately, the 7th Earl De La Warr died in 1896 which was before the majority of the town around the seaside was completed and the Viscount Cantelupe became 8th Earl De La Warr.

The 8th Earl De La Warr continued to plan and implement the plans for the seaside resort of Bexhill-On-Sea. Bexhill became a fashionable resort, a high class entertainment destination widely regarded as having ‘health-giving properties’ and attracted leading artists of the time. The Sea wall was built by a man named John Webb, The Sackville Hotel and the Devonshire Hotel were built on the seafront and the main town layout and design was planned.

The Kursaal was built on the seafront at the bottom of Sea Road, which was an entertainment hall. This was a hugely popular venue for the people of Bexhill-on-Sea however this was demolished in 1936 and the site for this is where the Bexhill Sailing Club now stands.

The town of Bexhill-On-Sea was the first place in England that allowed mixed bathing in 1901 and held the very first motor racing event along the seafront in 1902. There were over two hundred entries for this event which included many prominent names of the time including a member of the Rothschild family, Lord Northcliffe founder of the Daily Mail and the Frenchman, Leon Serpollet who had founded the steam powered Gardner-Serpollet Oeuf de Pacques (Easter Egg) motorcar. He held the World land speed record in 1902 clocking up an impressive 75.06 miles per hour. The Serpollet car frame can now be found as a standing memorial to this event on Bexhill Seafront, near the finishing line by The Sackville Hotel.

Today, Bexhill-On-Sea is an area of considerable change. We are now part of the Rother District Council which is based at the Town Hall at the bottom of Buckhurst Road. This is where the districts main administration is carried out. We also have one of the UK's largest employers in the town, insurance firm, Hastings Direct. There is the De La Warr Pavilion, our world famous Art Deco building that was built in 1935 that organises many events and shows throughout the year.

In 2012, plans were approved for a link road linking the A259 at the London Road crossroad to the Queensway in St. Leonards’-On-Sea at a cost of £100 million. Following the old railway line route, a large part of the road is now open which links Bexhill to Ninfield Road, with the remainder of the road due to be completed at the end of 2015. Bexhill has three railway stations, Cooden, Collington Halt and Bexhill Central. Bexhill-On-Sea has a Town Team who actively help and support the Rother District Council.

The charm of Bexhill-On-Sea is still present and closely follows the Edwardian values that were present in the early 20th Century when the town was first developed.

If you are interested in finding out more, we would recommend a visit to the Bexhill Museum which backs onto Egerton Park. Whilst the seaside resort, Bexhill-on-Sea is still relatively modern, the town has a rich history to learn about and enjoy.