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The Haven Hotel
|Location||161 Banks Road,
|Number of rooms||84|
|Number of suites||2|
|Number of restaurants||1|
The first hotel built on this location was the North Haven Inn in 1838. The Inn was demolished and replaced with the present Haven Hotel in 1887. Guglielmo Marconi established a wireless transmitter at The Haven Hotel in 1898, and carried out some of his first wireless telegraphy experiments from the hotel. Photographs and information on these experiments are still on display in the Marconi Lounge, within the hotel.
The Haven Hotel housed Belgian refugees during the First World War and was a military contact point during the Second World War, and was at one stage a Naval detachment. In 1976, The Haven Hotel was purchased by the hotel chain FJB Hotels.
From 1898 – 1926, the Haven Hotel was home to the Italian inventor and physicist, Guglielmo Marconi. Using the now called Marconi Lounge as a laboratory for his experiments. Just one year after moving into the Haven Hotel with his family, Guglielmo, who affectionately became known as the Father of Radio, established wireless communication between France and England across the English Channel. Guglielmo erected a 120 ft wooden mast in the hotel’s grounds, upon which experiments for his wireless patent (7777) were carried out, and a somewhat conspicuous 158 ft wireless mast at the back of the hotel. Living at the Haven Hotel until 1926, visitors noted that meals were taken at a communal table, with everyone welcome to join in. Following dinner, there was often a musical interlude with Guglielmo accompanying his guests on the piano. At the time, the Sandbanks Peninsula consisted of just two hotels, a coastguard station and a few houses, so this flamboyant family would have been the talk of the town. Indeed, a local boatman often spotted Guglielmo through the window, standing in front of what he describes as ‘a great flat instrument, several feet square. The Marconi Lounge now has a plaque honouring his achievements and a collection of old photographs of the Haven Hotel under Guglielmo’s experimental reign.
The Haven Hotel was rebuilt in 1926, when the country still ricocheted from the Great War and Britain’s hotel architecture was stagnant, it was hailed a seaside architectural triumph. In fact, one publication[which?] announced it was “the only good-class hotel of any size erected of late” and a “successful attempt to combine modern ideas in hotel planning with the latest construction and materials.”
Completed in 10 months, it is said that over 1,000 architectural drawings were produced by hand and that, on average, 162 men were employed per day, totalling 270,600 man hours. This was an epic undertaking for what was, at the time, a sleepy seaside town. Whilst the Haven Hotel you see today has largely stayed true to its original design, there are some quirks that, over the years, have been lost to changing times and trends. For example, the seawater sunken baths, which offered guests a detoxifying soak in the comfort of their own rooms, the chauffeur’s accommodation conveniently located above the parking facilities and a petrol station for guests on the site of today’s Business Centre, and the designated smoking room, which at the time would have been considered the height of fashion.
It took 500,00 bricks, 500 tons of cement, 12,000 cubic feet of timber and 6,000 cubic feet of stonework, the hotel is now considered[by whom?] an iconic local landmark and a fine example of 1920s architecture.
- Morris, Iris. Looking Back at Sandbanks.
- My Father, Marconi, Degan Marconi, Guernica Editions, 1996, ISBN 1-55071-044-3 Google Books, retrieved 3 August 2008