The History Of Eastbourne, Photos, Stone Age, Victorian Times, Railway, Museums, Things to do, Population, Eastbourne Timeline

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The History of Eastbourne with information from the stone age right through to the victorian times, the advent of the railway and its impact on growth in our seaside holiday town.

2001 in Eastbourne History: Bonfire Society re-established.
A reawakening was seen in 2001 of an interest in our cultural and historical roots.  The first Lammas Festival took place on Wish Tower Hill, the Eastbourne Giants were created and The Pentacle Drummers were formed.  The festival celebrated the English Folk tradition, a time when mankind adopted a way of life that was more sympathetic to the rhythms of the earth. The rekindling of Eastbourne’s Bonfire Society gives the town a more tangible link to the past. Everyone knows the story of Guido (Guy) Fawkes, but it is a little known fact that Eastbourne has a Bonfire tradition that goes back almost four centuries.

1993 in Eastbourne History: Sovereign Harbour Established
At Eastbourne’s Eastern end lies Sovereign Harbour, which provides locals and sea faring visitors with inner 65 acre marina that is protected from tidal forces by an outer marina. Shops, pubs and fine restaurants can be enjoyed right on the waters edge.

1994  in Eastbourne History: 25 miles south west of the Royal Sovereign, the Greenwich light vessel automatic station is established.

1990 in Eastbourne History:
MGM Multiplex Cinema opens at The Crumbles Centre.
The Tourist Board vote Eastbourne as a 'Top Resort'.
David F Bellotte member of the Liberal Democrats wins the by-election.

1988 in Eastbourne History:
The m
odified Eastbourne Harbour Bill was approved.

1985  in Eastbournes History:
Civic Society opens the Eastbourne Heritage Centre

1981 in Eastbourne History: The Eastbourne Arndale Centre
On the junctions of Ashford, Junction and Tideswell Roads, The Arndale Centre was built. The shops include those which front onto the pedestrianised part of Terminus Road which leads down to the station, or up to the Eastbourne Pier.
- Fire damaged Eastbourne College

1964 in Eastbourne History: Opening of the Eastbourne Library
The Eastbourne Library was erected on the bombed site of what was formerly the Library and Technical Institute, and features and underground theatre. The cost (then) to build the library seems trifling by todays standards, at a mere £144,000.

1976 in Eastbourne History:
First phase of new District Hospital opened

1975  in Eastbourne History:
Parliament defeat the proposal for a new harbour and development scheme at Langney
Redoubt restoration begins

1963 in Eastbourne History: The Congress Theatre
The Congress Theatre in Eastbourne was built in 1963, on the site of the Indian Pavilion which was demolished to make way for the complex.

1935 in in Eastbourne History: The Eastbourne Bandstand
The Bandstand, was built in 1935 in Art Deco style, and long established a tradition of military music over the years. And the cost to build the bandstand, I hear you ask? A snip at a mere £29,000.

1912 - 1924 in Eastbourne History: Maurice Farman’s biplane was built
An Eastbourne Aviation Company built the biplane - Founded by Bernard Fowler, just four aircraft were built and nineteen airmen were trained before war finally broke out. The airfield went on to become became a training grounds, which taught over 120 men learned to fly.

1905 in Eastbourne History: Holywell (West end of Eastbourne, seafront)
The history of Holywell: Named after a small fishing hamlet to the west, started out as an unused chalk pit was which was turned into a beautiful Italian Garden which can still be enjoyed today. The cost to build this stunning garden was just £400 at the time, a lesser wage than a single landscape gardener would charge for a weeks work by today’s standards.

1904 in Eastbourne History: The Technical Institute and Free Library
Destroyed by German bombers in World War 2, was the Technical Institute and Free Library, which contained a Free Library, Municipal Boys' School, a Museum and the School of Art.
The building was erected at the junction of Orchard Road and Grove Road upon land which was provided by the then Duke, further helped by a donation of £10,000 from Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-born American millionaire.

1903 in Eastbourne History: The First Bus Service
The first Municipal bus service in Eastbourne started in 1903. With no number plates, painted in red and brown, drivers of the earliest buses were subject to the elements as the busses sported an open driver's cab.

1902 in Eastbourne History: Beachy Head Lighthouse
Built from Cornish granite in 1902 and automated in 1980, this (new) lighthouse stood at the foot of the cliffs, replacing the Belle Tout lighthouse which still stands at the top of the cliffs today.

1893 in Eastbourne History: The towns First Bandstand
Destroyed in the Second World War, Eastbourne’s first bandstand was built a cost of just £300 and was known to locals as 'The Birdcage.'

1886 in Eastbourne History: Eastbourne Town Hall
The Town Hall was built in 1886 but the clock was not installed for another 6 years until 1892. It was designed by W. Tadman Foulkes and built by a local builder named James Peerless upon the site of the Stocks Bank in Grove Road.

1883 in Eastbourne History: Incorporation of the Borough of Eastbourne
On the 1st June 1883, Eastbourne's Charter of Incorporation was granted. George Ambrose Wallace was the Duke's agent and also an architect, builder and developer, and also the first Mayor of Eastbourne, following elections in November of that year.

1874 in Eastbourne History: The Devonshire Park Opening
Bordered by the Devonshire Baths (also 1874), the Winter Gardens (1875) and the Devonshire Park Theatre (1875), the Devonshire Park in Eastbourne was originally laid out with terraces, walks and a cricket pitch. Later additions were to include the now internationally known tennis courts, as well as racquets, a roller skating rink and a music garden.

1873 in Eastbourne History: Devonshire Place
Devonshire Place in Eastbourne leads from the memorial roundabout toward the seafront, where a statue of the Duke of Devonshire can be found sitting on a chair. This beautiful avenue was the focal point of Currey's design for the 7th Duke of Devonshire's town. The Imperial Hotel, Cumberland Hotel, Cavendish Hotel and Haddon Hall Hotel can be found at the seaward end, by the Statue. Towards memorial roundabout (on the corner) lies a bomb shelter, the stairs of which are hidden within a shrubbery.

1867 in Eastbourne History: Eastbourne College Founded
The Eastbourne College was founded in 1867 with the assistance of the Duke of Devonshire. The college was to be an independent school 'for the sons of noblemen and gentlemen'. Roughly half of its students are borders, which include both boys and girls studying in Eastbourne.

1866 in Eastbourne History: The Sewage Outfall
Proudly celebrated my men in top hats, Eastbourne’s first proper drainage and sewer system came was built in 1866.

1865 in Eastbourne History: The Eastbourne Pier
The Eastbourne Pier was designed by Eugenius Birch and built by the Eastbourne Pier Company at a cost of £15,000. Originally it acted as a landing platform for steam boats, enabling the gentry of the period to 'walk on water'. Repairs and alternations have been a contributing factor to the Eastbourne Pier’s existence.

1858 in Eastbourne History: William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire
Formerly the 2nd Earl of Burlington,  solemn looking fellow, William Cavendish along with his architect Henry Currey, were largely responsible for the magnificent design of Eastbourne, westwards of Devonshire Place, towards the now prestigious Meads area and the Western Parades, areas of Eastbourne which were especially attractive to the upper classes.

1849 Eastbourne History: The Railway Station
Originally not much more than a wooden hut, looking somewhat like small bungalow, Eastbourne's first railway station was built in 1849. A line joined Polegate to Eastbourne connecting the town to the Brighton, London and south coast railway system. The building of the railway station had a tremendous impact on the speed at which Eastbourne was to grow over the coming years.

1832 in Eastbourne History: Belle Tout Lighthouse
First constructed of wood thanks to the influence of 'Mad Jack' Fuller, it was later rebuilt in stone. The Belle Tout lighthouse was built in 1832 and decommissioned in 1902. During its service, it has been a tea-shop and a home, was partly destroyed during the Second World War and lovingly rebuilt in the 1950’s. It was moved inland in 1999 due to the natural erosion of the Beachy Head chalk cliffs, and has now been beautifully renovated and refurbished.

1822 in Eastbourne History: The First Lifeboat
The first lifeboat in Eastbourne was made out of wood by a local boat builder named Simpson, where it remained in service until 1863.

1804-1810 in Eastbourne History: History: The Martello Towers
The Martello Towers in Eastbourne were originally built as a coastal defence to protect the coastline against Napoleonic invasion. The towers stretch from Suffolk to Seaford, with The Wish Tower on Eastbourne’s seafront being tower number 73.

1776 in Eastbourne History: Gilbert Manor House (Became Towner Art Gallery)
Charles Gilbert purchased the building from the builder Dr. Lushington in 1792, and it became the Gilbert or Gildredge Manor House. Eastbourne Borough purchased the building in 1923 for £19,000 to be used as the Towner Art Gallery. Alderman Towner had left a donation of £6,000 along with his collection of paintings.

1556 in Eastbourne History: Compton Place (Originally Bourne Place)
The only Grade 1 listed building in Eastbourne was originally built by James Burton. Belonging to the family of the Duke of Devonshire, the building is now leased out.

14th Century in Eastbourne History: Lamb Inn
The Lamb Inn can be found in the Old Town high street and remains one of the more quaint buildings (or certainly pubs) in Eastbourne and is well worth visiting. It was formerly used as a ballroom and assembly rooms.

12th Century in Eastbourne History: St Mary's Church in Eastbourne
Then fronted by a stone wall, St Mary's Church in Eastbourne was built between 1160 and 1190. The church was enlarged roughly 200 years later in the 14th Century, and later restored to its current condition in the mid 19th Century.

The Domesday Book in Eastbourne History:
Recorded in the Domesday book is Eastbourne's population, which at the time stood at a population of 68 villeins, 6 labourers, 28 ploughlands, not forgetting a wooden church and Roger the Cleric, alongside roughly 3360 acres (1000 hectares). All in all, one church, one mill and a supply of salt pans.

500 AD in Eastbourne History: Anglo-Saxons
Within the Anglo Saxon charter, there is a reference to Burne or Bourne. The Anglo Saxons inhabited Eastbourne, and left behind a cemetery which overlies an Iron Age settlement on St Anne's Hill. From this location, pottery, glass, jewellery and weapons were uncovered.

43 AD in Eastbourne History: Roman Villa in Eastbourne
The Romans left their mark on Eastbourne too, ruling from nothing less than a Roman Villa with sea views. The Romans helped develop the existing farm economy of the time, leaving behind Roman baths and pavements which were later exposed in 1712 and 1841 at the location of what is now the Queens Hotel in Eastbourne, which is opposite the pier.

700 BC in Eastbourne History: Iron Age Pottery found
An extensive settlement existed on St Anne's Hill, surviving into the iron age where pottery has been found, both pottery that was made locally and that which was imported.

2400 BC in Eastbourne History: Bronze Age Axes found in Eastbourne
Its hard to imagine that 4500 years ago, metal smiths were smelting bronze and building tools such as Axes. Bronze age axe heads of outstanding quality has been found – as well as gold and other buried treasures – in the numerous burial mounds exist on the Downlands of Eastbourne. A Late Bronze Age lagoon-side settlement was also found at Shinewater.

4000 BC in Eastbourne in the Late Stone Age (Neolithic)
On Bullock Down, a late stone age site was uncovered. It is thought that early farmers built the Neolithic land-bridged enclosure on Combe Hill, creating long barrows for their dead and possessed axes of imported volcanic rock.

7000 BC Eastbourne in The Stone Age
Hand axes with a sharp flint edge, as well as scrapers flint scrapers (used to remove meat, fat and muscle from the inside of useable hides) have also been found on the Downs, alongside the flakes flint knappers would have made when creating the flint implements.

65 MILLION YEARS AGO (Eastbourne in the Late Cretacious Period)
Dinosaurs roamed the Earth from the late Triassic Period, through the following Jurassic Period and then the Cretacious Period. Contrary to popular belief, the Tyrannosaurus Rex did not walk the Earth during the Jurassic period, but instead this massive king of dinosaurs actually roamed the Earth towards the end of dinosaur life on earth, during the late cretaceous period.

Sadly, dinosaurs died out at the end of the Cretacious Period, at which time Eastbourne was part of a deepening sea, near the land. Dinosaurs did not live in the sea (marine reptiles did) so it is unlikely we will find the remains of any dinosaurs in Eastbourne. You might also enjoy reading our fascinating geological history of Eastbourne!