The De La Warr Pavilion was the result of an architectural competition initiated by the Herbrand Sackville, 9th Earl De La Warr, after whom the building was named. The 9th Earl, a committed socialist and Mayor of Bexhill, persuaded Bexhill council to develop the site as a public building. It was intended to hold a library and host educational courses for local working men and be of general benefit to the local population. (Bexhill on Sea is now a Tory stronghold and a Socialist Mayor would be unthinkable!)
Designed in the International Style the building was constructed in 1935 and designed by the architects Erich Mendelsohn and Serge Chermayeff. Although now recognised as a Modernist classic it was controversial for many years.
The comedian Spike Milligan was stationed in Bexhil during his war time service and joked "...De La Warr Pavilion, a fine modern building with absolutely no architectural merit at all. It was opened just in time to be bombed. The plane that dropped it was said to have been chartered by the Royal Institute of British Architects with Hugh Casson at the controls and John Betjeman at the bombsight..." - Spike Milligan, from Adolf Hitler - My Part in His Downfall
Growing up in Bexhill in the 60's it was a venue for 'Beat Raves' and it was here that I saw Geno Washington and The Ram Jam Band, PP Arnold and other 'soul' artists. By the late 60's rock and roll was a little too racy and performances like that had ceased and the Pavilion, and the town, settled into gentile decline.
Accorded Grade 1 listed status in 1986 finance and restored in 2004 it is now a contemporary arts centre and has hosted some major shows.
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