Littlestone Historic Buildings
Littlestone pre 1936
Located on the seafront at Littlestone, The Watch House was built around the 1870s as a Coastguard Watch Tower, to keep a look out for ships in trouble in the channel. The building was linked to Littlestone Lifeboat Station and a row of black tarred coastguard cottages that were situated nearby on Coast Road.
Up to c2010 it remained very much as it was in the 1870s but was then subject to extensive development with the erection of two three-storey extensions and gazebo and associated groundworks to form swimming pool, terracing to garden area and vehicular access/parking area.
The picture below was taken in the early 1900s
and shows the Watch House and Lifeboat Station.
In the background is the Water Tower and 'Sandcroft',
which was home to Herbert Gladstone MP,
who was Home Secretary 1906 to 1910.
Littlestone Lifeboat Sandal Magna c1895
Coastguard Station Littlestone c1914
The 120ft water tower at Littlestone was built in 1890 by Henry Tubbs to supply water to his properties in Littlestone, including Littlestone Golf Club and his proposed housing development.
Henry Tubbs wanted to turn Littlestone into a major resort, and embarked on an ambitious building programme, including the Marine Parade and Grand Hotel. His plans for a pier were not realised, however, and it was eventually built at Eastbourne instead.
The tower is constructed in red brick which shows the external features of the tower very well. It narrows at about the third story and its appearance changes depending on your viewpoint. At the top there is a sort of turret, giving the building a slightly military look.
The military used the Tower during World War Two as a lookout post and they made some changes to the structure, partly the reason for its slightly wobbly look. The Army also added a substantial concrete stairway inside.
Unfortunately the water tower didn’t function properly and the water was found to contain too much salt to be of any use. In 1902 the Littlestone and District Water Company built a tower at Dungeness to supply all of New Romney, Littlestone, Greatstone and Lydd. The tower at Littlestone fell into disuse, but now serves as a residence.
The Dormey House Hotel was located along Marine Parade at Lilltlestone, between the road junctions withe Littlestone Road and St Nicholas Road. It overlooked LIttlestone Greens with fine view of the sea beyond.
The hotel has long since gone. It suffered a fire in 1983 and the buidling was subsequently replaced by a new buiding which is now residential apartments.
The Dormy Hotel c1960s?
The Dormy House Hotel prior to 1983
The 'Dormy House Hotel Building' Today
The Grand Hotel was located on the sea front at the junction of Littlestone Road and Grand Parade.
The hotel was built in the 1880s by Henry Tubbs. The Grand, as it was originally known, was one of the largest hotels in the area. It suffered major fire damage in the 1930's and after it was repaired, it reopened as Pope’s Hotel, named after the people who owned it. In the late 1950's it was renamed The Ferry Hotel.
The hotel closed in the 1960's and was demolished around 1973 to make way for the block of flats known as ‘Grand Court’.
Grand Hotel c1930s
Grand Hotel c1973
The 'Grand Hotel' building today
Romney Bay House is located Romney Bay House Hotel is situated along a private road on the seafront in Littlestone.
The house was built for Mrs Margaet Ethel Bray in c1927 by the architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis (28 May 1883 – April 1978), the creator of the Italianate Portmeirion in North Wales.
He was made a CBE in 1958 and Knighted in 1972 for services to the preservation of the environment and to Architecture. His autobiography ‘Architecture Errant’ was published in 1971.
Romney Bay House Today
The American Actress and Journalist, Hedda Hopper, born Elda Furry on 22nd May 1885, spent time holidaying at Romney Bay House. Noel Coward, The Astor’s and many influential people of the time were visitors too. Imagine the decadent House Parties thrown!
Hedda Hopper was the fifth of nine children of David and Margaret (Miller) Furry. She met William De Wolf Hopper during the production of “The Pied Piper”. In May 1913, she became the fifth of his six brides and on 26th January 1915, she bore him a son, William junior. They divorced in 1922.
Romney Bay House in c1950
The entrepreneur Henry Tubbs wanted to turn Littlestone into a major resort and embarked on an ambitious building programme. This included plans to build a pier and promenade off of the Grand Parade, opposite Littlestone Road.
Had it been built, would have been one of the longest in England. It was also proposed to establish an Electric Tramway on the Littlestone Road for the purpose of conveying visitors and others from the seafront to the Railway Station and the Town of New Romney. However, disputes over some land meant it was never built.
Proposed Pier at Littlestone c 1889 (Ack. 61)
Golf has been a fixture at Littlestone since 1888. Although challenging enough to host the first L.G.U. Ladies Championship in 1894, the Club’s first Captain, William Laidlaw Purves, along with the professional David Herd, designed a course that covers much of the same ground as the links are now. Purves was a member and the designer of Royal St Georges at Sandwich.
The new course was recognized as one of the premier links in the UK. Charles Blair Macdonald, a founder of the United States Golf Association, an evangelist for the game in the U.S. and the designer of many of the early, great courses in America, visited Great Britain in 1902 and again in 1904. He visited Littlestone, Prestwick, Hoylake, Deal, Sandwich and other well-regarded courses in the UK.
Littlestone Golf Club Today
After The Great War, the club worked to repair the damage brought by neglect and military activities on the site. In 1924, the club contacted Alister MacKenzie, a well-regarded golf course architect and designer of Alwoodley Golf Club, who would later relocate to the US and design two masterpieces there, Augusta National & Cypress Point.
MacKenzie visited Littlestone in 1924 and presented the club with an extensive list of improvements. Some of his suggestions were implemented immediately and others over the years. But it’s clear that much of the greatness on the course is directly attributable to his genius. The course has remained nearly unchanged since MacKenzie’s time with the exception of some tee relocation to add length. To play golf at Littlestone is to step back in time and to enjoy links golf at its best.
Littlestone Golf Club c1900
The Dutch House, located on the seafront in Coast Drive in Littlestone, was built in 1905.
It was designed by John Cash with assistance from the outstanding architect Sir Edwin Lutyens and was built in the popular Arts and Crafts style for the family of British statesman Lord Gladstone.
The Dutch House
Claverly House was located on the corner of Queens Road and Grand Parade. It was built by Sir Robert Perks, who named the house Clavery, the grandest on the sea front; a name shared with his estate in Chislehurst, Kent.
It was demolished to be replaced by a block of flats, which opened in 2021.
Claverly House c1990s prior to its demolition
Claverly House in 2021