Crossley View flats stand on the corner of Marine Parade East and Victoria Road, Clacton and replaced Crossley House which was built by James Harman, one of Clacton’s pioneers, when he came to the town in 1874. It was, at that time, at the extremity of Marine Parade, overlooking a cutting in the cliffs called Victoria Gap. Harman took up residence here, with his wife and children, but as he took a greater interest in the development of Clacton he found it more convenient to move into the town. In about 1884 he conveyed it to General William Booth, for in April of that year it is recorded that he bought from Harman the greensward in front of Ocean View, as the house was then called, for the princely sum of ten shillings (50 pence).
The Salvation Army had been established some years previously through the devoted energies of William Booth and his wife Catherine, and Ocean View was acquired for the army as a home of rest for their officers. Clacton on Sea was then but a small seaside resort, and the house stood isolated from the rest of the town to provide them with a quiet and healthy retreat.
Catherine Booth loved the sea and in 1888, suffering from cancer, she stayed for some time at Ocean View. The following year, through the generosity of Frank Crossley, who was a great benefactor to the Salvation Army, the Booths were able to rent the house for their own use, and the General brought his wife to spend her last months by the sea.
At first she was able to enjoy short drives in a carriage, and then brief strolls along the cliffs, but in October she was confined to her bed, but with a view of the (then named) German Ocean from the bay window. There were frequent visits from her family and friends, and her little granddaughter afterwards recalled “There seems to be many strangers in the big house. I feel safest in the garden to which I can go by the side door near the housekeeper’s room”
Catherine lived for another year, before her suffering with great fortitude; then on the morning of Saturday 4th October 1890, at the age of 61, she passed away peacefully, after two days of thunder, lightning and torrential rain.
The Salvation Army established their corps in Clacton in 1897, whilst Ocean View was purchased by Sir Saville Crossley (afterwards Lord Somerleyton) in 1895 and then presented, by him, to the Royal Eastern Counties Hospital as a nursing home. At this point it was renamed Crossley House, and the name continued to be used when the building was replaced by today’s flats.