The Excelsior Tearooms
EXCELSIOR TEA ROOMS , St Margaret’s Bay.
Notes from our Archivist, Ruth Nicol.
Other images of the tearooms can be seen in the 'Village on the Beach' collection.
In August 1895 a plot of land on the beach at St Margaret’s Bay was advertised for sale in a local newspaper by local estate agents, Worsfold & Hayward . The plot measured 96 feet by 80 feet . It was located at the bottom of the Zig-Zag steps leading from The Leas by Hotel Road ( or from the footpath off Bay Hill that ran immediately in front of the garden of the Granville Hotel ) down on to the beach below. At that time the plot did not sell and was offered later for sale by private treaty.
By 1903 a building called Excelsior Tea Rooms was occupying the plot of land
Described in a guide book dated 1907 –
The Excelsior,charmingly situated close to the sea. With 3 letting bedrooms and two letting sitting rooms also a detached bed-sitting room. All enjoying the morning sun and are thus especially suited to both summer and winter residence.
MODERN SANITATION , BATH ROOM, PURE AND ABUDANT WATER SUPPLY.
By 1925 expansion had taken place for the Excelsior was offering seven bed rooms for let, with two sitting rooms . Bath room with hot and cold running water . Parties catered for. High Class Confectionery and Home Made cakes were among the delights on offer as well as a “penny in the slot” lavatory . No doubt a boon for bathers .
All this was run by Mrs Ellen MORSE .
In the 1911 census for St Margaret’s Susan Ellen Morse was in residence at The Excelsior Restaurant , a widow aged 49 born Thorpe , Norwich , Norfolk with her daughters , Florence Kate aged 16 born Colchester in Essex and Mary Susan , aged 14 born Great Yarmouth, Norfolk who are both helping their mother with the business . They have five visitors which is early in the season,for the census was taken that year on 2nd April.
Mrs Morse died in 1930 and business at the Excelsior was carried on by her daughter Florence Kate who two years later was married in St Margaret’s church on the 23rd of April 1932 , to Joseph Edmund MORRIS , an engineer’s stock keeper from Brockley in south east London . Between them they kept the Excelsior going for the delight of visitors and bathers alike , only stopping when enforced evacuation closed the beach in early 1940 .
In 1945 when hostilities of world war two were over and things were gradually becoming normal again there was a move to re-instated the Excelsior but it was deemed too badly damaged and was demolished in the early 1950’s. For the last seven years of its life it served as an unofficial changing room for bathers and younger people used its broken woodwork to make rafts before its final clearance.