The Buckle and the Sailing Club
In 1545 a small French fleet attempting to land in Seaford Bay was repulsed by the men of the town and local landowners under the leadership of Sir Nicholas Pelham. A predecessor of his had been awarded the French King’s sword buckle at the Battle of Poitiers, 1356, having captured the sword itself. The buckle became the family’s emblem, and as they have had an influence over much of Seaford’s history over the years, this emblem gives its name to many sites, including the area where this 16th-century action took place.
The large building, resembling a Martello Tower, was built in 1963 as a new public house to replace an older pub that occupied the site. It was the landlord of this who had the awesome responsibility of deciding when the road should be closed to traffic in bad weather. This included the bus service, still numbered the 12 even in early days, and presumably a message had to be got to both Brighton and Eastbourne so that bus crews could be warned and the publicly-mysterious “Buckle Closed” chalk board displayed. He certainly had a switch in the pub that operated a sign on the main road just before the junction which said the same thing, and directed traffic on a long and circuitous route starting up Hill Rise and Grand Avenue before dropping down to the town centre. Even that was only available from around 1949. Before, traffic had to chance the conditions or make a long detour via Beddingham and Alfriston.
The new Buckle Inn was built with the bar on the first floor so that customers had the benefit of the sea view, and, unusually for the 1960’s, it had a children’s room downstairs. The brewery had planned to call the new pub “The Goldfish” in honour of the members of the Goldfish Club; RAF pilots who had survived ditching in the sea during the second world war, and who wanted to use the new pub as their headquarters.
The building, altered somewhat, is now a private residence and a superior Bed and Breakfast, having been sold by the brewery in 1992 when the pub was described as the “loneliest pub on the south coast”.
Carry on in a westerly direction to the Newhaven and Seaford Sailing Club HQ, a friendly club for all ages of membership who also have a lake at Piddinghoe for water sports and training. The cafe on the Esplanade is open to all, except when busy club meetings are in progress – usually on Sundays.
As you press on westwards you enter the South Downs National Park and Tide Mills. The path here is in part tarmac usually overlaid by shingle. Evidence is visible just past the Club of the tramway that once led from Newhaven to the Esplanade, bringing rock for protecting the coastline.