Ocean Hotel, Saltdean

  • Longridge Avenue, Saltdean , Brighton, East Sussex, BN2 8BU
  • Designed by: Richard William Herbert Jones
  • Built: 1938
  • Tags: Hotel, Seaside, Streamlined Moderne

Standing on Longridge Avenue in Saltdean, at its junction with Wicklands Avenue is the former (Grand) Ocean Hotel. The Ocean Hotel was built in 1938 and was designed by the architect Richard William Herbert Jones, who also designed Saltdean's Grade II*-listed Lido and residential properties Teynham House, Curzon House and Marine View along Chichester Road East and Marine Drive.

The hotel was built by the Ocean Hotels Ltd at a cost of £200,000. Designed in the Streamlined Moderne style, the hotel extends over three main storeys above a basement storey. The frontage of the hotel is concave in form, with a symmetrical design, featuring ranges and outer wings either side of a central core. The ground floor level of the hotel houses the main public rooms of the hotel, including the ballroom. The second and third storeys are given over to hotel accommodation.

The central core of the hotel comprises three bays, with the central bay occupied by a large, full height window to the second and third storeys illuminating the hotel's spiral staircase. At the ground floor there are double doors opening onto the hotel foyer, beneath a curved canopy roof. The central bay terminates with a raised parapet, and is topped with a central flagpole.

Beside the central core are ranges on either side. Each extends over five bays, with the central bay being narrower than the outer bays. The ground floor windows are set beneath a shallow canopy, while above the horizontal bands formed by the metal-framed windows are separated by exposed brickwork, unlike the rest of the facade which is rendered and painted white. The roofline is topped with a parapet.

Each of the wings of the hotel extends over a further three bays, with much narrower windows. On the ground floor these have porthole-shaped windows beneath, while the windows on the two storeys above are set into a plain architrave. The roofline of the outer wings has a stepped up parapet, with flagpoles attached to metalwork brackets.

At the rear of the main hotel building were a further six accommodation blocks, either side of the swimming pool.

The hotel was only open for a short time before the outbreak of the Second World War. The building was requisitioned and eventually became home to the Auxiliary Fire Service, who made use of the hotel's swimming pool and nearby Lido for firewater. The hotel was left in a poor state after the cessation of the war, and was put up for sale. It was purchased in 1953 by Billy Butlin for his holiday camp business, officially re-opening on 2 May 1953. In the hotel's later years it featured as a setting in ITV's Poirot series, which made use of many famous Modernist buildings in its filming. The hotel remained with the Butlins company until it was sold in 1999. It continued to be operated as a hotel until January 2005.

A multi-million pound refurbishment programme undertaken by the developers Explore Living began in 2007 and was completed by 2011. The refurbishment saw the hotel converted into luxury flats. The most obvious new feature is a 'mansard' roof extension providing additional flats. The transformation of the building has allowed a sympathetic restoration of her exterior, with replacement glazing similar to the original windows. With a new storey added to the roof of the building, additional windows have been inserted into the parapet, necessitating the removal of the flagpole brackets on the outer wings. At the entrance, ramps have been installed to improve access. The accommodation blocks to the rear have been demolished and replaced with modern developments.

The building was awarded Grade-II listed status on 1 November 1992.

References

Posted by Richard Coltman on Saturday, July 23, 2016

A celebration of Modernist architecture in Britain