Museum volunteers solved Marina landmark mystery

RNLI Box SUS-171107-132010001
RNLI Box SUS-171107-132010001

Volunteers from Bexhill Museum have uncovered the history of a unique little town landmark and ensured its conservation.

Mystery shrouded the original purpose of a metre-high cast iron pedestal near the war memorial on Marina.

Now museum volunteers Paul Wright and Dave Hatherell have revealed it is one of only a handful of RNLI coin collecting boxes remaining in the country.

During the 1930s a number of cast-iron pedestal collecting boxes were placed around the country, usually at costal locations with lifeboats, to help RNLI fund-raising.

On August 3, 1935 the Bexhill Observer published a report on the appearance of ‘a small iron pedestal’ close to the Beach Inspector’s Office at the Colonnade.

Paul Wright says: “It was hoped the box would help to collect vital funds for the RNLI although Bexhill has never had its own lifeboat or associated lifeboat station.

“At present no photograph showing the collecting box on this site has been found. Major alterations to the Colonnade following the Second World War saw the collecting box move to its current position on East Parade close to the War Memorial. It is not known when the collecting box was decommissioned by the RNLI although a photograph taken in 1963 and held by Bexhill Museum probably shows it still in use.

“The box is constructed of cast iron, with a square base and approximately one metre in height.

“The side facing north has a door with keyhole for emptying the contents.

“By 2017 the pedestal had received little care except coats of dark green paint as part of the Council’s routine maintenance of its seafront structures. A small group of local residents as well as Bexhill Museum and Rother Council representatives decided to both research the history of the coin collector and restore it to its former glory.”

Whipping the RNLI flag off to unveil the restored pedestal before a seafront gathering on Monday morning Paul Wright said it had gone unnoticed for years by passers-by – except for dogs!

The RNLI was represented by branch chairman David Gardner, secretary Jeanne Bini, treasurer Malcolm Viner and fund-raiser Ellie Wood and Rother District Council by Cllr Doug Oliver.

Paul Wright thanked Brewers for sponsoring the paint and Rother museums curator Julian Porter for his help in research.

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