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Eastbourne's Napoleonic Fortress was built to keep the French armies out. Now it welcomes visitors in.
When the fortress was built in 1807 the winning bidder for the work was not the cheapest or best value, but the man who had bought up all the local brick supplies and so was the only man capable of actually completing the work! The Redoubt was garrisoned up until the start of the 20th century but never saw the anticipated French invasion. The fortress came back into military use again during both world wars. In 1926 the Eastbourne Corporation (now the Borough Council) purchased the fort for the sum of £150. With a maintenance bill running to many millions now, this doesn't seem like such great value anymore.
The fortress is now home to the museum collections of the Royal Sussex Regiment and the Queen's Royal Irish Hussars which explores the history of two cavalry regiments, the 4th Queen's Own Hussars and The 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars. There is an interesting exhibit on their role in the infamous failure that was the "Charge of the Light Brigade" during the Crimean War.
There is also an interesting section on the history of Eastbourne during the second world war. Eastbourne became the most heavily bombed town on the south coast because the German command had believed the town was home to armament factories (it wasn't). As a local person it is quite disturbing seeing photographs of local residential streets that I know so well depicting heavy bomb damage and carnage.
Written Mar 30, 2013
Address: Royal Parade, Eastbourne, BN22 7AQ
Phone: 01323 410300
When it starts to snow Eastbourne looks magical! It seems that the architecture and elegance that was designed for the summer sun does just as well in the snow. Unfortunately it doesn't happen very often, but in the last few years we have had at least one or two days of snow each year, usually in January, sometimes February or December. When the snow comes (and providing it isn't windy) I like to grab a hot coffee and head for the seafront. It's a wonderful sight, but if the wind picks up it will be absolutely freezing!
My favourite photos of Eastbourne in the snow are in my travelogue.
Written Jan 20, 2013
Eastbourne Seafront really can be divided in to 2 parts at the pier. To the West is the area more traditionally associated with the town's tourist trade with the elegant Edwardian promenade, the Bandstand and the Wish Tower, along with many of the major hotels. To the East is a more family orientated and more modern (but no less attractive) offering.
The highlights of the Western Seafront are (for me) the Wish Tower and the gardens at Holywell at the extreme Western end of the promenade.
The Wish Tower was one of 14 Martello Towers constructed to defend the bay between Beachy Head and Hastings from attack by the French following the survey of South East coastal defences in 1793. In terms of the overall chain of coastal defences it is also known as Tower 73.
Until very recently the Wish Tower was blighted by an adjoining café which I could only describe as an eyesore. It was a thoroughly ugly mid 20th century monstrosity which ruined the site in my opinion, especially as the offering inside made you grateful for the architecture! Fortunately this has gone now. We are now awaiting the arrival of what has been described as an "iconic building" which will house a new catering offering on the site. But since the old café has gone it is now much easier to appreciate the Napoleonic fort for what it is itself.
Written Jan 1, 2013
Eastbourne's grand and elegant Victorian Town Hall was built between 1884 and 1886 to house the Borough Council of the rapidly expanding town. Interestingly this was not the first choice of site for the town hall but was eventually picked because it was cheaper than the other options and the Duke of Devonshire (who was the major local land owner) provided this site at a fair price. The location had been the location of the village stocks in the past, where criminals would have been punished.
The Borough Council has a very detailed account of the history of the building on their website.
The building is usually only accesible to the public if attending a meeting, a wedding or registering a birth or death. You could try contacting one of the Borough councillors or the local democracy team to arrange to see the inside if you so wished.
Eastbourne Borough Council are changing their ways of working and have a view to stop using most or all of the Town Hall as office space in the near future so that it can become more available for community use. This may mean it becoming more accesible to visitors.
Updated Jan 31, 2012
Address: Grove Road, Eastbourne
Phone: 01323 410000
The Towner Art Gallery is the home for Eastbourne's collection of contemporary arts as well as a wide variety of temporary exhibitions which include some big names in the world of modern art.
On the first floor is the collection gallery which shows off items from the Towner's own collection, usually with a particular theme. The second floor has temporary exhibitions. This is a vast open space full of light and so allows a wide variety of different exhibitions to take place here.
Many of the staff are local volunteers and often are very enthusiastic about the exhibitions and will be pleased to give you as much background information as they can if you ask.
Entrance is free although donations are appreciated.
Written Nov 30, 2011
Address: Devonshire Park, College Road, Eastbourne BN21 4JJ
Phone: 01323 434670
Eastbourne's Pier is one of it's most memorable images and has been used as a film set on a number of occasions in recent years - most recently in the film "Made in Dagenham" when it 'played the part' of Brighton Pier becuase Eastbourne Pier looks more like what an English seaside town pier should look like in it's heyday.
It is much better maintained (and cleaner) than many other piers are now around the English coastal resorts and has all the traditional English seaside things on it - fish and chips, Victorian tea rooms, souvenir shops, amusement arcades and of course (and most importantly) the wonderful views both out to sea and back across Eastbourne's elegant Edwardian seafront.
I like to visit the pier on a Sunday afternoon, get a portion of chips covered in salt and vinegar, and then go to the end of the pier and eat them whilst taking in the view and watching the people go by.
Written Nov 28, 2011
Address: Grand Parade, Eastbourne
The famous cliffs of Beachy Head are the highest point in a string of chalky rock faces that slice across this rugged stretch of coast at the southern end of the south downs. It’s a spot of thrilling beauty, at least until you remember that this is also officially one of the top suicide spots in the world!!
Written Jul 14, 2011
Eastbourne is the pre-Wimbledon ladies tennis tournament. It has a relaxed atmosphere and is a great place to spend a weekend (or a week for the hardcore tennis fans).
Wonderful if the weather's nice.
Crap is the weather's crap!
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: Devonshire Park, Eastbourne
I've never actually been inside this place but I know it is all about the history and heritage of Eastbourne.....a town apparently created *By gentlemen... for gentlemen*. Hmmmm... no wonder it's never been my favourite place!
Still, it's somewhere to go to pass an hour on a wet afternoon.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
A stroll up to Beachy Head from Eastbourne will take a couple of hours. It is very windy on most days but the views are stunning. Hang gliders are often seen here as it is a well positioned spot to leap off of cliffs!
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: Beachy Head
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