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Coordinates: 50.7696° N 0.2797° E

Eastbourne (United Kingdom)
Population 92,900 (2005 est)
OS grid reference TV608991
District Eastbourne
Shire county East Sussex
Region South East
Constituent country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district BN20-23
Dial code 01323
Police Sussex
Fire East Sussex
Ambulance South East Coast
UK Parliament Eastbourne
European Parliament South East England
List of places: UKEnglandEast Sussex

Eastbourne is a medium sized town in East Sussex, on the south coast of England, with a population, according to the 2001 Census, of around 90,000. Created almost from scratch during the 19th Century, it soon became a prime seaside resort, but has since suffered from the general trend away from taking holidays within the UK. Geographically, Eastbourne is situated at the eastern end of the South Downs, and boasts the famous Beachy Head cliff, as well as extensive beaches.


[edit] History

The area around Eastbourne is known to have been settled throughout history. Flint mines plus other Stone Age artefacts have been found in the surrounding countryside, and there are Roman sites within the modern boundaries of the town. In 1717, a Roman bath and section of pavement were discovered between the present pier and the Redoubt fortress in the hamlet then known as Sea Houses, while in 1841, the remains of a Roman villa were found near the entrance to the pier and lie buried near the present Queens Hotel. [1]

An Anglo-Saxon charter, circa 963 AD, describes a landing stage and stream at Bourne. Following the Norman Conquest, the Hundred of what is now Eastbourne, was held by Robert, Count of Mortain, William the Conqueror's half brother. The Domesday Book lists 28 ploughlands, a church, a watermill, fisheries and salt pans. [2]

During the middle ages the town was visited by King Henry I and in 1324 by Edward II.[1] Eastbourne was granted the right to hold a market in 1315, three years after a comparable grant at Brighton. Evidence of Eastbourne's medieval past can seen at the Church of St Mary's - a fourteenth century edifice - and Bourne Place. This beautifully situated manor house is owned by the Dukes of Devonshire and was extensively remodelled in the early Georgian era when it was renamed Compton Place. In the mid-sixteenth century the house was home to the Burton family, who acquired much of the land on which the present town stands.

Eastbourne's earliest claim as a seaside resort came about following a summer holiday visit by four of King George III's children in 1780 (Princes Edward and Octavius, and Princesses Elizabeth and Sophie). [3]

The Eastbourne Redoubt South Seaward facade
The Eastbourne Redoubt South Seaward facade

In 1793, following a survey of coastal defences in the southeast, approval was given for the positioning of infantry and artillery to defend the bay between Beachy Head and Hastings from attack by the French. 14 Martello Towers were constructed along the western shore of Pevensey Bay, continuing as far as Tower 73, the Wish Tower at Eastbourne. Several of these towers survive: the Wish Tower is an important feature of the town's seafront, and part of Tower 68 forms the basement of a house on St. Antony's Hill. Between 1805 and 1807, the construction took place of a fortress known as the Eastbourne Redoubt, which was built as a barracks and storage depot, and armed with 10 cannons. [4]

The Wish Tower Martello Tower in Eastbourne
The Wish Tower Martello Tower in Eastbourne

Eastbourne remained an area of small rural settlements until the 19th century. Four villages or hamlets occupied the site of the modern town: Bourne (or, to distinguish it from others of the same name, East Bourne), is now known as Old Town, and this surrounded the bourne (stream) which rises in the present Motcombe Park; Meads, where the Downs meet the coast; South Bourne (near the town hall); and the fishing settlement known simply as Sea Houses, which was situated to the east of the present pier.

By the mid-19th century most of the area had fallen into the hands of two landowners: John Davies Gilbert (the Davies-Gilbert family still own much of the land in Eastbourne and East Dean) and William Cavendish, Earl of Burlington.[5] Encouraged by the growing appreciation of the seaside sparked by Richard Russell's assertion of its medicinal benefits in 1752, these were to oversee the creation of what became known as "the Empress of Watering Places".[6]

An early plan, for a town named Burlington was abandoned, but on 14 May 1849 the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway arrived to scenes of great jubilation. With the arrival of the railway, the town's growth accelerated. Cavendish, now the 7th Duke of Devonshire, hired Henry Currey in 1859 to lay out a plan for what was essentially an entire new town — a resort built "for gentlemen by gentlemen". The town grew rapidly from a population of less than 4,000 in 1851 to nearly 35,000 by 1891. In 1883, it was incorporated as a municipal borough; a purpose-built town hall was opened in 1886[6].

This period of growth and elegant development continued for several decades. A royal visit by George V and Queen Mary in March 1935 is commemorated by a plaque on chalet number 2 at Holywell.

World War II saw a change in fortunes. Initially, children were evacuated to Eastbourne on the assumption that they would be safe from German bombs, but soon they had to be evacuated again because after the fall of France in June 1940 it was anticipated that the town would lie in an invasion zone. Part of Operation Sealion, the German invasion plan, envisaged landings at Eastbourne. Many people sought safety away from the coast and shut up their houses. Restrictions on visitors forced the closure of most hotels, and private boarding schools moved away. Many of these empty buildings were later taken over by the services. The Royal Navy set up an underwater weapons school, and the Royal Air Force operated radar stations at Beachy Head and on the marshes near Pevensey. Thousands of Canadian soldiers were billeted in and around Eastbourne from July 1941 to the run-up to D-Day.[7] The town received more air attacks than any other in the south-eastern region, and many original Victorian and Edwardian buildings were damaged or destroyed. The situation was especially bad between May 1942 and June 1943 with hit-and-run raids from fighter-bombers based in northern France. [8]

Eastbourne pier and beach
Eastbourne pier and beach

After the war, development continued, including the growth of Old Town up the hillside (Green Street Farm Estate) and the housing estates of Hampden Park, Willingdon Trees and Langney. During the latter half of the 20th Century, there were controversies over the loss of historic landmarks or natural features, and over particular buildings. These factors, later exacerbated in 1965 by the construction on the seafront of the 19-storey South Cliff Tower, followed by the glass-plated TGWU headquarters, caused a storm of protest which resulted in the founding in 1961 of what has since become The Eastbourne Society. [9] In 1981, a large section of the town centre was replaced by the indoor shops of the Arndale Centre. Most of the expansion took place on the northern and eastern margins of the town, gradually swallowing surrounding villages, as the richer western part was constrained by the Downs and remained largely unchanged.

In the 1990s, both growth and controversy accelerated rapidly as a new plan was launched to develop the area known as the Crumbles, a shingle bank on the coast to the east of the town centre. This area, now known as the Sovereign Harbour, containing a marina, shops, and several thousand houses, along with luxury flats and apartments, was formerly home to many rare plants. Together with continued growth in other parts of the town, and the taming of the central marshland known as the levels into farmland and nature reserves, has turned Eastbourne into the centre of a conurbation, with the appearance from above of a hollow ring. The next development currently being debated is the effective demolition of much of the town centre, to be replaced by a modern shopping centre, and the adaptation of several existing roads to form an inner ring road.

[edit] Geography

Eastbourne, as seen from Beachy Head
Eastbourne, as seen from Beachy Head

The South Downs dominate Eastbourne and can be seen from most of the town. These were originally chalk deposits laid down under the sea during the Upper Cretaceous period, later uplifted by tectonic plate movements. The chalk can be seen along the coastline in the area known as Beachy Head. Continuous erosion keeps the cliff edge vertical and white. The chalk contains many fossils such as ammonites and nautilus.[10]

The town of Eastbourne is built on geologically recent alluvial drift, the result of the silting up of a bay. This changes to Weald clay around the Langney estate.

Eastbourne holds the record for the highest recorded amount of sunshine in a month, 383.9 hours in July 1911.[11] It promotes itself as "The Sunshine Coast". Other resorts, such as Jersey, Bournemouth and Weymouth lay claim to being the sunniest place in Britain too, using different criteria of "sunniest place".

Several nature trails lead to areas such as the nearby villages of East Dean and Birling Gap, and landmarks like the Seven Sisters, Belle Tout Lighthouse and Beachy Head.

[edit] Districts

Within Eastbourne's limits are:

  • Langney district: Langney Rise, Shinewater, Kingsmere, Langney Village, The Marina, Langney Point.
  • Hampden Park district: Hampden Park village, Willingdon trees, Winkney farm, Ratton.
  • Inner districts: Rodmill, Ocklynge, Seaside, Bridgemere, Downside.
  • Town districts: Town centre, Little Chelsea, Meads, Holywell, Old Town.
  • Sovereign Harbour: North Harbour, South Harbour.

The seafront at Eastbourne is distinctive in having few shop fronts opening onto it, the road being almost entirely populated by Victorian hotels. This is because much of Eastbourne has traditionally belonged to the Duke of Devonshire, who retains the rights to these buildings and does not allow them to be developed into shops. Along with its pier and bandstand, this serves to preserve the front in a somewhat timeless manner.

There was also a community known as Norway, Eastbourne in the triangle now bounded by Wartling Road , Seaside and Lottbridge Drove. This area is now a housing estate and the only evidence there was ever a Norway are a Norway Road and the local church whose sign reads "St Andrew's Church, Norway".

The hamlet of Holywell (situated on a ledge to the far side of the area now known as "Holywell retreat") was taken over by the local water board in the early twentieth century to exploit the springs in the cliffs. Rumours abounded that the women folk of the hamlet sold their cottages to the water board while their fisherman husbands were out at sea! The water board's successors still own the site, and there is a pumping station but little evidence of Holywell itself. Holywell Road in Meads formerly led to the hamlet along the lane between Helen Gardens and St Bedes School, then winding down the cliffs beyond Pinnacle Point.

Eastbourne's greater area comprises the town of Polegate, and the civil parishes of Willingdon and Jevington, Stone Cross, Pevensey, Westham, and Pevensey Bay village. All are part of the Wealden District.

[edit] Beachy Head

Main article: Beachy Head

Beachy Head cliff, to the west of the town, is an infamous suicide spot. Statistics are not officially published to reduce suicidal mimicry,[12] but unofficial statistics show it to be the third most common suicide spot. Beachy Head lost much of its grandeur in 2001 when its main distinguishing feature - the tower of chalk known as the Devil's Chimney - collapsed into the sea following a winter of heavy rain.

The lighthouse at the foot of the cliff came into operation in October 1902. Although originally manned by two keepers, it has been remotely monitored by Trinity House via a landline since June 1983. Prior to its construction, shipping had been warned by the Belle Tout lighthouse on the cliff top some 1500m to the west. Belle Tout was operational from 1834 to 1902, and closed because its light was not visible in mist and low cloud. It became a private residence, but was severely damaged in World War 2 by Canadian artillery.[13] In 1956, it was rebuilt as a house and remains a dwelling to this day. In March 1999, the structure was moved 17m back from the cliff edge to save it from plunging into the sea.[14]

[edit] Transport

The most common form of transport throughout the town is the car, and consequently Eastbourne has more cars than the average town, made even higher by the number of tourists and commuters travelling in and out.[citation needed]

Many of the town's major roads and dual carriageways can be very busy at times, while the buses and trains are usually half empty. Consequently, many measures are being taken to encourage the use of public transport, which have produced a slow increase of passengers on the trains and buses.

Taxis are the second favourite form of transport. Many of the town's taxis are luxury cars. Many cab firms are located in the town and the surrounding area. Hire cars are the most common. Some firms offer a special airport shuttle service to Gatwick airport and Heathrow.

Buses are operated by Eastbourne Buses offering journeys to all parts of the town and surrounding areas. Following complaints about the poor service provided by independent operators, the County Borough of Eastbourne in 1903 became first local authority in the world authorised to run motor buses. This long history is a source of pride for the current operator, Eastbourne Buses, which is a company part-owned by the Borough Council.[15]

A service runs to Brighton, Battle, Hailsham, Hastings and Tunbridge Wells several times a day. Southern Stagecoach operates a service to Folkstone via Hastings. Many of the surrounding areas operate bus services into the town. The Cuckmere bus, Hastings buses, Brighton buses and Maidstone and District buses travel to the town. The newest service is run by Pevensey and Westham District in partnership with Eastbourne buses. A regular National Express coach service operates daily from London Victoria.

Train The main station is Eastbourne railway station situated in the town centre. The present station (the town's fourth) dates from 1866. Eastbournes other station is Hampden Park railway station. This station is located between the course of the mainline and Eastbourne. Trains have to pass through the station twice on their journey, causing the nearby level crossing to be the busiest railway level-crossing in Europe.[citation needed]

Regular services are to London Victoria, Gatwick Airport, Hastings and Ashford, Kent and a commuter service to Brighton. Trains leave from London Victoria to Eastbourne with a journey time of around 1hr 30mins.

Tramway a miniature tramway once ran a mile across "the Crumbles" (then undeveloped) from near Princes Park / Wartling Road towards Langney Point. It opened in 1954 but ceased operation in 1970 and moved lock stock and barrel to Seaton in Devon after the owners had fallen out with the council; it is now the Seaton Tramway.

[edit] Economy

Eastbourne is a seaside town with no heavy industry, and its main source of employment and income remains tourism, along with the influx of language students during the summer. There are, however, several large industrial estates on the outskirts of the town, particularly in the Hampden Park area; these include tyre making, wholesale, manufacturing, and catering businesses. For many years, the largest employer in the town was Birds Eye, but that factory was relocated, and today wholesaler Gardners Books can probably claim that position.

[edit] Culture

[edit] Blue Plaques

In 1993, following a suggestion to Eastbourne Borough Council by Eastbourne Civic Society (now Eastbourne Society), a joint project was set up to erect blue plaques on buildings associated with famous people. The principles for selection were broadly those already established by English Heritage for such plaques in London. The first was erected in November 1994 in Milnthorpe Road at the former home of Sir Ernest Shackleton, the Antarctic explorer. The project is on-going, but now solely in the hands of the Eastbourne Society. Thus far, the following plaques under the above scheme are in position.

List of Eastbourne Society Blue Plaques
Name Dates Profession Plaque Location
Mabel Lucie Attwell 1879 - 1964 Artist Ocklynge Manor, 11 Mill Road
Lewis Carroll 1832 - 1898 Writer 7 Lushington Road
Cyril Connolly 1903 - 1974 Journalist, critic and author 48 St John’s Road
Charles Dickens 1812 - 1870 Writer Pilgrims, 4-6 Borough Lane
Jeffery Farnol 1878 - 1952 Writer 14 Denton Road
Eric Ravilious 1903 - 1942 Artist 11 Glynde Avenue
Sir Ernest Shackleton 1874 - 1922 Antarctic Explorer 14 Milnthorpe Road

The artist and illustrator Mabel Lucie Attwell is listed under her married name of Mrs H Earnshaw at Ocklynge Manor in Kelly's Directories of Eastbourne for 1935 and 1936. Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland, spent the first of 19 summer holidays in Eastbourne in 1877, initially in Lushington Road.[16] Cyril Connolly’s plaque in St John’s Road commemorates the residence of this man of letters during the last nine years of his life. The plaque in honour of Charles Dickens records the author’s visits during the 1830s, when he stayed as a guest of the Victorian artist Augustus Egg, RA, who rented the house in Borough Lane. The author Jeffrey Farnol died at his home in Denton Road in 1952. Eric Ravilious was the town’s most famous painter, book illustrator and engraver. While serving as a war artist, he failed to return from an air-sea rescue mission off Iceland in 1942. The plaque in Glynde Avenue is at his childhood home. Sir Ernest Shackleton’s blue plaque in Milnthorpe Road was the first to be erected in the town. The polar explorer lived there from 1917 to 1922.

List of Eastbourne Society Blue Plaques (cont)
Name Dates Profession Plaque Location
Pupils of St Cyprian's School
Sir Cecil Beaton 1904 - 1980 Photographer and designer 65 Summerdown Road
Cyril Connolly 1903 - 1974 Writer and Journalist
Henry C Longhurst 1909 - 1978 Journalist and MP
Gavin Maxwell 1914 - 1969 Naturalist
George Orwell (Eric Blair) 1903 - 1950 Writer

St Cyprian's School in Summerdown Road was the preparatory school attended by a number of pupils who enjoyed success in later life. The biographer and historian Philip Ziegler had also been at the school but was not included, as he was still alive when the plaque was erected. The school is the subject of George Orwell’s scathing essay, Such, Such Were the Joys, which was published after his death.

In addition to the plaques which form part of the above scheme, the following plaques and memorials have been erected privately.

List of Private Plaques
Name Dates Profession Plaque Location
Charlie Chester 1914 - 1997 Comedian, poet and artist Inside Royal Hippodrome
Tommy Cooper 1921 - 1984 Comedian and magician 7 Motcombe Lane
Professor Thomas Huxley 1825 - 1895 Biologist Hodesley, 10 Staveley Road
Professor Frederick Soddy 1877 - 1956 Physicist & Radio chemist Eastbourne College, Blackwater Road
6 Bolton Road

The radio star Charlie Chester was born Cecil Victor Manser, the son a local cinema sign-painter who is listed in the 1914 Eastbourne Blue Book at 5 Tideswell Road. An iron silhouette of Tommy Cooper, complete with the comedian’s characteristic fez and wand, can be seen at what was his weekend cottage in Motcombe Lane. The biologist Professor Thomas Huxley took up residence in Staveley Road in 1890. Frederick Soddy, the eminent radio chemist and Nobel prizewinner, was born at 6 Bolton Road and educated at Eastbourne College. His larger plaque can be seen on School House in Blackwater Road.[17]

Following the loss of the RMS Titanic, an appeal was launched in 1912 for a plaque in honour of James Wesley Woodward, a former cellist with the Eastbourne Municipal Orchestra, who lost his life when the liner sank on her maiden voyage. In 1913, after much disagreement over a location, the marble and bronze plaque was finally placed on Grand Parade opposite the Eastbourne Bandstand. It can still be seen at the lower level, opposite the rostrum of the present bandstand.[18]

A blue plaque commissioned by the staff of the former St Mary’s Hospital, 1794 - 1990, was erected in Letheran Place in 2003. It commemorates the soldiers, inmates, patients and staff who lived and worked on the site.

[edit] Other notable residents

  • John Bodkin Adams, suspected serial killer, lived in Eastbourne from 1922 to his death in 1983 (first at 12 Upperton Road, then at Kent Lodge, Trinity Trees). He was controversially acquited in 1957 of killing 2 patients but suspected of 163 more.[19]
  • Count László Almásy de Zsadány et Törökszentmiklós attended Berrow School in Eastbourne and was a member of the pioneering Eastbourne Flying Club. He is the basis of the lead character of The English Patient.
  • Aleister Crowley, occultist and mystic attended Eastbourne College in 1892 and edited a chess column for the Eastbourne Gazette.
  • Claude Debussy and his young lover resided in Eastbourne in 1904, whilst fleeing France to avoid scandal. Whilst gazing at the dramatic seascape he wrote the Orchestral piece La Mer.
  • Michael Fish (the BBC weather forecaster)
  • Karl Marx and Frederick Engels were frequent visitors; the latter's ashes were scattered from Beachy Head at his request.
  • Actors Prunella Scales and Eddie Izzard both went to school in Eastbourne. Child star Laura Harling and actress Susannah Corbett also studied in the town.
  • James Bond star Roger Moore once lived in the penthouse flat of the South Cliff Tower at the west end of the seafront.
  • Capital Radio afternoon presenter Chris Brooks was born in Eastbourne, and started his career on Eastbourne Hospital Radio
  • The bands Toploader, Easyworld and Rooster hail from Eastbourne as do The Mobiles who had a top ten hit with "Drowning in Berlin" in 1982.
  • Eastbourne is the birthplace and early home town of British Yacht Designer Phil Morrison

[edit] Media

The seafront and the iconic cliff at Beachy Head has been used for many scenes in feature films. The 2006 Academy Award-nominated film Notes on a Scandal includes scenes filmed at Beachy Head, Cavendish Hotel and 117 Royal Parade. Backdrops were filmed for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at Beachy Head. Scenes from Half a Sixpence (1969) were filmed on the pier.

Television too has used Eastbourne as a backdrop. The series Little Britain had the character Emily Howard strolling along the promenade. Other brief appearances were made in the television series Agatha Christie's Marple, French & Saunders and Foyle's War.

[edit] Parks

Eastbourne officially has 10 parks and gardens, although there are several smaller open spaces including Upperton Gardens, the famous Carpet Gardens and the Western Lawns.

The first public park in Eastbourne was Hampden Park, originally owned by Lord Willingdon and opened on 12 August 1902. Facilities include: football pitches, rugby club, indoor bowls, a large lake (formerly a Decoy pond), lakeside cafe, children's recreation area, tennis courts, BMX and skate facility and woodland.

The largest and newest park is Shinewater Park, located on the west side of Langney and opened in 2002. During construction of the new A22 route nearby several bronze age items were discovered thought to date back to 600 BC - 800 BC. There is a narrow gauge railway, large fishing lake, basketball, football and cricket pitches, a BMX and skate park and children's playground.

Gildredge Park and Manor Gardens: A large open park located between the town centre and Old Town, Gildredge Park is very popular with families and has a children's playground, cafe, tennis courts and bowls lawns. The smaller, adjoining, Manor Gardens combines both lawns and shady areas as well as a rose garden. Until 2005, Manor Gardens was the home of the Towner Art Gallery. This gallery incorporated a permanent exhibition of local art and historical items, plus temporary art exhibitions of regional and national significance. It is now in the process of being relocated to a new, £8.5m purpose-built facility adjacent to the Congress Theatre, Devonshire Park and is scheduled to open in the summer of 2007.[20]

Princes Park: This park obtained its name during a visit by the Duke of Windsor as Prince of Wales in 1931. Located at the Eastern end of the seafront, it has a children's playground with paddling pool, cafe, bowls and a large lake, noted for its swans. A nearby water-sports centre also has kayak and windsurfing training upon it. Close by are tennis and basketball courts and a football pitch. At the north of the park is Eastbourne United F.C.

Devonshire Park, home to the pre-Wimbledon ladies tennis championships, is located just off the seafront in the towns cultural district. Although the oldest park in the town it only became a public park in 1929.

Other parks include: Helen Gardens and the Italian Gardens at the western end of the seafront, Sovereign Park between the main seafront and the marina and Motcombe Gardens in Old Town.

[edit] Performing Arts

Eastbourne bandstand
Eastbourne bandstand

Eastbourne has four theatres; the Grade II* listed[21] Congress theatre, the Grade II listed Devonshire Park theatre, the Grade II listed Winter Garden and the Royal Hippodrome. The Devonshire Park theatre is a fine example of a Victorian theatre with ornate interior decorations. The Royal Hippodrome has the longest running summer show in Britain. [22]

Eastbourne Bandstand lies between the wish-tower and the pier. It stages the 1812 Firework Concerts, Rock N Roll Nights, Big Band & Last Night on the Proms and the very popular Tribute Band Nights with tributes to Abba, Elvis, and Queen etc.

There was once a second very similar bandstand (also built in 1935) in the "music gardens" near the Redoubt Fortress. The bandstand was removed to make way for the Pavilion Tearooms but the colonnades built around it are still there (behind the tea rooms). Before 1935 each of these sites had a smaller "birdcage" bandstand; the one in the music gardens having been moved from a rather precarious position opposite the Albion Hotel. The "kiosk" in the music gardens was originally one of the toll kiosks at the entrance to the pier.

The famous Chinese State Circus performs once a year in Princes Park. The London Philharmonic Orchestra also make regular appearances.

[edit] Recreation

The obvious place of leisure is the 4 miles of shingle beach which stretches from the harbour in the east to Beachy Head in the west. The majority of the seafront consists of hotels, from petite guest houses to grand buildings.

Located halfway along the beach lies Eastbourne Pier, opened in 1870. In 1877 the landward half was swept away in a storm. It was re-built at a higher level, creating a drop towards the end of the pier. The pier is effectively built on stilts that rest in cups on the sea-bed allowing the whole structure to move during rough weather. This has contributed to its longevity, compared to other Victorian era piers around the British coast.

Other recreation facilities include two swimming pools, three fitness centres and other smaller sports clubs. A children's adventure park is sited along the seafront. There are various other establishments scattered around the town such as crazy golf, go-karting and LaserQuest.

[edit] Sport

The Ladies International Championships, a Women's tennis tournament traditionally seen as the warm-up to Wimbledon, are held at Devonshire Park, it is the oldest such championship in Europe[citation needed].

Eastbourne is home to three senior football clubs all bearing the town's name. Eastbourne Borough F.C. playing in the Conference South League, plus Eastbourne Town F.C. and Eastbourne United F.C. playing in the Sussex County League Division 1. There are many other Adult football teams in Eastbourne, including Eastbourne Dynamos F.C. Willingdon Athletic and Eastbourne WMC, many associated with youth teams and Ladies XI's.

The Eastbourne Eagles are a speedway club located at Arlington Stadium, just outside the town. They compete in the Speedway Elite League, the highest level of speedway in England. The Stadium also sees stock-car racing on Wednesday evenings in the summer months.

Eastbourne is represented in many other sports including cricket, hockey, rugby, lacrosse and golf.

There was once a small race-course in Whitbread Hollow (now St Bede's school playing fields).

There is an annual extreme sports festival held at the Eastern end of the seafront.

[edit] Tourism

In 2007, Eastbourne will gain a new cultural centre, replacing the Manor House (which has now been sold) as home of the Towner Art Gallery; it is located in the cultural district next to the Congress Theatre and Devonshire Park.

One feature that has always been heavily promoted is Eastbourne's floral displays, most notably the Carpet Gardens along the coastal road near the pier. These displays, and the town as a whole, frequently win awards — such as the 'Large Coastal Resort' category in the 2003 Britain in Bloom competition.

A major event in the tourist calendar of Eastbourne is the annually held 4 Day, International Air Show, 'Airbourne'. Started in 1994, based around a long relationship with the Red Arrows display team, the event features Battle of Britain memorial flights, and aircraft from the RAF, USAF and many others.

Eastbourne pier
Eastbourne pier

An international birdman competition is held annually off the pier, but was cancelled in 2005 due to lack of competitors.

Annually there is also a raft competition where competitors, usually local businesses, circumnavigate the pier in a raft made by themselves, while being attacked by a water-cannon.

How we Lived Then is a museum of shops and local history, with exhibits representing complete scenarios such as shops and houses with life sized dummies. The museum contains more than 100,000 exhibits, covering the period from the 1800s to the Second World War.

The Redoubt Fortress and Military Museum on Royal Parade is one of only two examples of a type of fortress built to withstand potential invasion from Napoleon's forces in the early nineteenth century. It houses interesting collections from The Royal Sussex Regiment, The Queen's Royal Irish Hussars, and the Sussex Combined Services Collection; including 4 Victoria Crosses and General Hans-Jürgen von Arnim's Steyr Automobile 1500A Afrika Korps Staff Car. Also housed in the fortress is half of the national collection of the British Model Soldier Society, with 1,531 soldiers of all periods and armies permanently on display. The museum holds activities in conjunction with Eastbourne Victorian Festival. (See Eastbourne Redoubt)

[edit] Politics

The political allegiance in Eastbourne swings between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, the balance of power changing frequently. At present, the Conservatives have the majority vote at all political levels.

At local level, the town is served by Eastbourne Borough Council. The district is divided into nine wards; Devonshire, Hampden Park, Langney, Meads, Old Town, Ratton, St Anthony's, Sovereign and Upperton. Each ward returns three councillors, giving a total of twenty seven representatives. A Mayor is chosen traditionally from the ruling party but adopting a non-political and ceremonial role. Up to May 2006, elections were held yearly, with one seat per ward coming up for election. From May 2007, this will change to an election every four years, with all three seats per ward being contested.[23]

The 2006 election had a turnout of 40.70%, resulting in a council made up of 15 Conservative, 11 Liberal Democrat and 1 Independent councillor. The Mayor of Eastbourne is Councillor Colin Belsey and the Leader of the Council is Councillor Ian Lucas.[24]

The next level of government is the East Sussex County Council with responsibility for Education, Libraries, Social Services, Civil Registration, Trading Standards and Transport. Elections for the County Council are held every four years. Out of the 49 seats, nine are filled by the Eastbourne Wards. These wards are the same as the Borough wards, with one councillor elected per ward. Some Borough Councillors are also elected as County Councillors.[25]

The 2005 East Sussex County Council election resulted in 29 Conservatives, 15 Liberal Democrats, 5 Labour and 1 Independent, of which Eastbourne provided 5 Liberal Democrats and 4 Conservatives. The turnout was 64%. Four of the Eastbourne County Councillors are currently serving as Borough Councillors. [26]

The Parliament Constituency of Eastbourne covers a greater area than the nine local wards, extending to the North and the East, including additional areas such as Willingdon, Wannock, East Dean and Friston. Since 1992, Eastbourne's Member of Parliament has been the Conservative Nigel Waterson. In the 2005 election, despite a swing of 1.2% to the Liberal Democrats, Nigel Waterson held on to his seat with 43.5% of the vote, a 2.3% majority with a 64.8% turnout.[27] A previous MP for Eastbourne was Ian Gow, who was murdered by the IRA using a bomb planted under his car seat while at his home in Sussex.[28]

At European level, Eastbourne is represented by the South-East region, which holds ten seats in the European Parliament. The June 2004 election returned 4 Conservatives, 2 Liberal Democrats, 2 UK Independence, 1 Labour and 1 Green, none of whom live in East Sussex.[29]

[edit] Demographics

For many people, Eastbourne is most readily associated with the elderly, as it has historically been a popular retirement destination, and it is often referred to in age-related jokes. The 2001 census showed that it still has a larger than average over-60 population[30] (just over a quarter of the population are of retirement age as opposed to the UK average of 18.4%) Recent major housing developments have been aimed mainly at young families, and the provision of adequate schooling has become a key local issue.

The population of Eastbourne at the 2001 census was 92,100, and the town is growing fast. Ethnically, the town is 96.6% white, with small minority groups including Latino, Chinese, Thai and Korean; white minority groups include Russian, Latvian, Ukrainian, Greek (mainly from Cyprus), Spanish, Portuguese, Venezuelan, Polish and Estonian.

Chinese form the largest minority group, and have been in the town for the last 4 decades. Chinese restaurants and takeaways are a common sight; in many parts of the town one only needs to walk a few paces to find an oriental restaurant. The second largest minority in Eastbourne are the Greeks, a significant community of whom can be found around the Susans Road area, which consequently has many Greek restaurants, kebab houses and a Greek orthodox church. Many of the town's fish and chip shops are Greek owned.

[edit] Education

Eastbourne has a tradition of private education stretching back to the 19th century. One of the main reasons for its early popularity was a reputation for health, enhanced by bracing air and sea breezes. In 1871, (the year which saw the arrival of Queenwood Ladies College) the town was cheerful, attractive and flourishing and just beginning a period of growth and prosperity.[31] By 1896, Gowland’s Eastbourne Directory listed 76 private schools for boys and girls. However, economic difficulties during the inter-war years saw a gradual decline in the number of private schools. In 1930, the headmistress of Clovelly-Kepplestone, a well-established boarding school for girls on the seafront, referred to "heavy financial losses experienced by schools in the past few years". In 1930, this school was forced to merge its junior and senior departments; in 1931, one of its buildings was sold off, and in 1934 the school closed altogether. Finally, indicative of the changes that would later befall many of the larger buildings in the town, the school was demolished to make way for a block of flats, which was completed in 1939.[32] The Eastbourne (Blue Book) Directory for 1938 lists 39 private schools in the town. With the fall of France in June 1940, and the risk of invasion, most left - the majority never to return.[7] By 2007, the number had reduced to just four: St. Andrew's School, Eastbourne College, St Bede’s Preparatory School and Moira House Girls School.

For a town of its size, Eastbourne now has a surprisingly small number of state schools. This has led to many of the town's schools having unusually large class sizes, and many children have to travel some distance to school when local schools have no room. Many of the schools have an excellent reputation for sports, art, drama and dance.

Several language colleges and schools are based in the town, some of which are nationally and internationally famous. Language students are therefore a common sight on Eastbourne's streets, coming mainly from Germany, Scandinavia, France, China, and Japan. Most of the language students visit Eastbourne during their summer holidays and stay with host families, who are paid for hosting the students. The high number of language students in the summer holidays is a cause of social tension in the town, as they tend to make intensive use of the local leisure facilities, for which they may have discounts or block bookings. This annoys local teenagers, who become aggressive against the visitors, and consider them appropriate victims for petty crime.

Meanwhile, many of Eastbourne's schools have twinning arrangements with schools in Germany and France, allowing students to exchange with those from abroad.

Parts of the University of Brighton are based in the Meads area of the town, and the University also owns playing fields in Willingdon.

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b Wright, J C (1902), Bygone Eastbourne, Eastbourne: Spottiswoode
  2. ^ Whitefield-Smith, N. (2004), Eastbourne - A history & celebration., Frith Book Company Ltd, ISBN 1-90493-824-8
  3. ^ Royer (attrib.), James. (1787), East-bourne and its Environs
  4. ^ Milton, Rosemary. & Richard. Callaghan (2005), The Redoubt Fortress and Martello Towers of Eastbourne 1804 - 2004, Eastbourne: Eastbourne Local History Society, ISBN 0 9547647 0 6
  5. ^ Stevens, Lawrence (1987), A Short History of Eastbourne, Eastbourne: Eastbourne Local History Society, ISBN 0 9504560 7 1
  6. ^ a b Surtees, Dr John (2002), Eastbourne, A History, Chichester: Phillimore, ISBN 0 86077 226 9
  7. ^ a b Ockenden, Michael (2006), Canucks by the Sea, Eastbourne: Eastbourne Local History Society, ISBN 0 9547647 1 4
  8. ^ Humphrey, George (1989), Wartime Eastbourne, Eastbourne: Beckett Features, ISBN 1 871986 00 1
  9. ^ Spears, Harold.; Lawrence. Stevens & Richard. Crook et al. (1981), Eight Town Walks in Eastbourne, Eastbourne: Eastbourne Civic Society
  10. ^ Fossils and Fossil Collecting in Eastbourne.. UK Fossils Network (2004). Retrieved on 2007-02-04.
  11. ^ UK Weather Records.. UK Met Office (2006). Retrieved on 2007-01-23.
  12. ^ Gunnell, D. (1994). "Reporting Suicide – The effect of media coverage on patterns of self harm". British Medical Journal 308: 1446-47. 
  13. ^ Surtees, Dr John (1997), Beachy Head, Seaford: SB Publications, ISBN 1 85770 118 6
  14. ^ "The 28ft move that took a day", The Argus, 18th March 1999.
  15. ^ Spencer, Dave (1993), Eastbourne Bus Story, Midhurst: Middleton Press, ISBN 1 873793 17 0
  16. ^ Bakewell, Michael (1996), Lewis Carroll, London: Heinemann, ISBN 0434045799
  17. ^ Eastbourne Society Newsletters Nrs 153, 164, 160, 155, 120, 130, 136, 149, 161
  18. ^ Eastbourne Society Newsletter Nr 115
  19. ^ Cullen, Pamela V., "A Stranger in Blood: The Case Files on Dr John Bodkin Adams", London, Elliott & Thompson, 2006, ISBN 1-904027-19-9
  20. ^ The Towner Art Gallery :ENC
  21. ^ Congress Theatre. Images of England. Retrieved on 2007-01-13.
  22. ^ Eastbourne Borough Council - Theatres. Retrieved on 2007-01-06.
  23. ^ How Local Elections Work. Eastbourne Borough Council. Retrieved on 2007-01-25.
  24. ^ Eastbourne Borough Council Elections 2006. Eastbourne Borough Council (5th May 2005). Retrieved on 2007-01-25.
  25. ^ East Sussex County Councillors. Eastbourne Borough Council. Retrieved on 2007-01-25.
  26. ^ County Council Election Results. East Sussex County Council (5th May 2005). Retrieved on 2007-01-25.
  27. ^ 2005 Election. BBC (23rd May 2005). Retrieved on 2007-01-25.
  28. ^ "1990-92: Start of the talks process", BBC Online Network, March 18, 1999.
  29. ^ UK MEP's. UK Office of the European Parliament. Retrieved on 2007-01-25.
  30. ^ Population Pyramid - Eastbourne. Census 2001. National Statistics. Retrieved on 2007-01-02.
  31. ^ Petrie Carew, Dorothea (1967), Many Years Many Girls, Dublin: The Author
  32. ^ Eastbourne Local History Society Newsletter Nr 79

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