As the daughter of a local fisherman, Eastbourne artist June Wood grew up with a love of boats, the beach, the sea and the pier, where she used to go jiving with her childhood sweetheart (now her husband) Alan.
Her Aunt Kathleen ran the Beach Café in Beach Road where the fishermen, known locally as the Beach Boys, would come for breakfast at 5am and entertain her with their maritime adventures.
The Allchorn brothers, who operated the ‘Round the Bay’ pleasure boats in the 1930s, were regular visitors and June remembers sailing around Beachy Head with them on the ‘Enchantress’, sadly lost at Dunkirk in 1940.
The popular tourist attraction operated successfully until a few years ago, but now the only remaining boats, the William Allchorn and the Southern Queen languish on the beach near the lifeboat station in a sorry state of disrepair.
Local mariners Lloyd Stebbings and Daniel Goldsmith have, however, started a campaign to restore them to their former glory and hope to revive the tradition and possibly extend the service to include trips to Brighton and the Isle of Wight.
Inspired by their initiative June Wood has painted three canvases: Broken Boat, Fishing Station and William Allchorn, the boat built in 1950 by E.Cantell & Son, Newhaven, in memory of George Allchorn, killed in the Dardanelles in 1915, and which bears the inscription, ‘Lest We Forget.’
June’s oil paintings are on display this weekend and Bank Holiday Monday (August 25) at the Birley Centre as part of the Eastbourne Uncovered exhibition, which features artists from the Eastbourne Group. Open 10am-5pm. Admission free.