Hove Beach Huts

A day after this piece is published, the first owners of a new batch of £12,000 beach huts just south of Hove Lagoon will be taking possession of their new summer bases. The huts have sold remarkably quickly and as I write, two weeks ahead of publication, seven remain after the first ten were snapped up in a matter of days.

Hove’s first beach huts appeared in the early 1930s and by 1936 some 290 were in place. They were originally situated on the south of the promenade but were moved to their more logical place on the north. The number of huts has grown over the years though the hurricane of 1987 destroyed or damaged some 70% of them. Beach huts are only found locally in Hove but there are ‘beach chalets’ of brick construction in Saltdean, Rottingdean, Ovingdean, Madeira Drive – and Hove.

I met the agent who is looking after the current sales, Barry Hough, on site to see the new huts up-close. Those nearing completion already have their regulation green and burgundy paint scheme. Owners do get to pick the colour of the doors at least. I think of them as little houses but they’re in fact marketed as commercial property as they bizarrely attract business rates (currently £45 per year after discounting). The legitimacy of the tax was disputed in 1993 but the council won the case. The tribunal did at least call for the rates to be lowered. There is also a licence fee for the privilege of keeping a hut on the public promenade of £283 per annum.

I took the trouble to visit Jackie, Les and the lads at Ace Joinery who actually built the huts. No doubt the contract was put out to tender but it would have been crazy for anybody but Ace to carry out the work as the firm is based just a couple of hundred metres away – and their work is second to none. I know because they made all of my new doors and sash windows.

The huts are of European Redwood construction with ply panels. It’s fascinating to watch the entire process from start to finish in the joinery. Unsawn timber enters the building from the nearby harbour and leaves as completed beach huts. Jackie even turned her hand to some of the painting! There is little waste as wood chippings are sold to horse owners.