Beachy Head. We have a mission: to follow the route of an old 1940s board game around Great Britain, sticking to the instructions as closely as we possibly can. Along the way we will look at the history of the places we visit, with a particular focus on how things have changed since the tour was created around 70 years ago.
After Square 2 on the board the next square with a location to visit is 7, which is Portsmouth. But before that there was an illustration on the board of Beachy Head.
The highest chalk sea cliff in Britain, Beachy Head is located close to the town of Eastbourne, which we saw rather more of than we wanted to in our search for Beachy Head. It seemed like a very pleasant town. The problem was that we are nowadays rather over-reliant on sat-navs, and the nearest postcode takes you to a residential street in Eastbourne that is nowhere near Beachy Head. To add to the problem, the tourist signage is very confusing, directing you in vaguely the right direction until you reach various crossroads and turnings with no guidance as to which route to take from there. This is a common problem with those brown tourist signs. To be effective there needs to be one at every location where there is a choice of roads to take, but that is rarely the case. But we got there eventually!
Beachy Head is not very beachy. This is because the name is derived for the French for “beautiful headland”, so its name is actually nothing to do with a beach. A little way off from the cliffs in the sea is the famous lighthouse, which was built between 1900 and 1902, so at the time of the creation of our game it was a much newer building, constructed less than half a century before. One major difference between then and now is that the lighthouse used to be manned by three lighthouse keepers, but since 1983 it has been automated. A few years ago the lighthouse was repainted, so probably looks a little smarter than it would have done to a visitor in c.1948, the date of the Tour of Great Britain game.
There is now a visitor’s centre with a small museum, which gave us a welcome chance to warm up. We had to consider ourselves lucky with the weather, as it was the end of March and could just have easily been stormy, but we had a dry day for our visit. However, it was predictably cold on the top of the cliff. There is a path which leads along the cliff to a viewpoint where the lighthouse is visible.
Our next location will be Portsmouth, where we will visit the HMS Victory.
The photos that accompany this post were taken during our visit. Please do not reuse them without permission.
The article above first appeared on our sister site Windows into History. All future instalments of our “Board Game Tour” will now be chronicled in the Junkyard. RP
Read next in the Junkyard: Board Game Tour of Britain: Portsmouth