WHEN our curator Julian Porter was offered the piano once owned by the impresario who put the then emergent Edwardian seaside resort on the musical map he jumped at the chance.
Julian’s next thought was “Where on earth do we put it?”
Now, thanks to a re-shuffle of exhibits, the French-made Erard baby grand has pride of place in the Sargent Gallery. The piano is topped by a photograph of Jimmy Glover (1861-1931) and by the museum’s scale model of the Kursaal, the truncated pier and entertainment hall which stood on the site of the present Sailing Club.
As musical director of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and manager of the Kursaal, Jimmy Glover brought the top-name musicians and singers of his day to Bexhill.
This was exactly what the Kursaal’s owner, the 8th Earl De La Warr, had in mind in making him his manager in 1900.
Between then and 1908 Jimmy Glover staged some 2,000 concerts in Bexhill. He became a borough councillor in 1902 and was Mayor in 1906-07 and Deputy Mayor to Lord Brassey in 1907-08.
The museum was offered the piano together with music stand, music and documents by Jimmy Glover’s great niece, Monica Hogan.
Julian Porter said: “The piano’s significance is that, previously, we had no objects connected with Jimmy Glover personally.
“We have a lot of background on him. He turns up in all sorts of documents and the newspapers of the time but nothing of his.
“Jimmy Glover is hugely important in town history. He brought all the big-name personalities of the time to the Kursaal. He was a great character, an impresario and he wrote a lot, later becoming a newspaper correspondent.”
Museum volunteer Mary Bywater said: “We had a letter from a direct descendent Miss Monica Hogan asking if we would like to have the piano because of the connection with Bexhill.
“She is a retired lady and it was in her home in Harlow. We asked my sister, who lives in Chelmsford to look at it.”
Julian said: “It seems that Jimmy Glover went to Paris to look at the piano before buying it.
“It was a tremendous opportunity for the museum. It had seemed almost impossible to get a direct link with Jimmy Glover. We were worried about where to put it initially. But rather than create a problem it has solved one – we had had a good re-arrangement in the gallery!
“Jimmy Glover was a tremendous character. He was fond of recalling that the German Kaiser once bowed to him. He had included a piece of music that the Kaiser was particularly fond of in a concert. Afterwards the Kaiser bowed to him in acknowledgement.