John William Webb 1840 – 1922

John Webb large“The Builder of Bexhill”. A builder by trade, John William Webb, or Johnny Webb as he was affectionately known, owned a thriving business at Brockley in South London. His connection with the town lasted some 40 years. As the caption to his obituary indicated, he was for the greater part “the maker of Bexhill” as it exists today. His first all important work here in Bexhill was the construction of the vital sea wall from Galley Hill to Sea Road fronting the De La Warr estate to the east of the town which the 7th Earl saw as essential if the town was to be developed as the ‘exclusive’ resort envisaged. In part payment for the building work Johnny Webb was given land south of the railway line from Sea Road across to the Polegrove. As seen today, the town developed to the west, on Webb’s ‘Egerton Park Estate’, more than to the east, rather contrary to the intentions of the Earls De La Warr of those times.

As highlighted by the ‘orations’ at the funeral ceremony at St. Mark’s Church, Little Common, John William Webb was a pioneer who had the interests of the town at heart. He was a man of the people, bluff and curt in conversation, who never used his position on the Council to advance his own private interests. Whilst acknowledged by all as a shrewd business man, he gave generously to those in need. As stated by Mr. G. H. Gray, Earl De La Warr’s Agent, in his oration ‘He steadfastly believed in the future of the town’. Johnny Webb died on the 11 November 1922 aged 82 years.

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