Eastbourne timeline showing historical and important events in Eastbourne's history.

Eastbourne pier has its own timeline page

Historical Important Events and Places In The Eastbourne 


New Towner Art Gallery

The original gallery was in the 18th century manor house in old town. It has been relocated to a new purpose built state-of-the-art gallery, adjacent to the Eastbourne Congress Theatre, Opened in April 2009 at the cost of £8.58m.




Sovereign Harbour Built

At the time it was the largest construction underway in Europe. The Crumbles was a wasteland of shingle and was also known for two murders 1920/24. Harbour is at the far eastern end of Eastbourne and can be visited by Dotto Train, bus or Taxi. Shops, pubs and restaurants can be enjoyed while watching the boats pass by in front of you. This is also now the home of RNLI Life Boat.




New Cumbles Cinema

Cannon opened a brand new 6-screen multiplex east of the town centre at The Crumbles in August 1990




The Arndale Centre Opened

Eastbourne’s largest shopping center. 80 shops under one roof but has a made it the central point of the town and now the surrounding outer shops have been made to feel part of it with the restriction of traffic flow. Central roads have been made walkways and bus only traffic.




Eastbourne Sovereign Centre Opened

The Sovereign Centre swimming pool is situated right on the beach to the East of Eastbourne,




Eastbourne DGH Hospital 

The District General Hospital (DGH) was built in two phases. The first opened in 1976, the second in 1989. The hospital occupies a prominent position on one of the main thoroughfares into Eastbourne and has commanding views of the town and its rural locality.




Royal Sovereign Lighthouse

The lighthouse was completed in 1971 and replaced a light vessel, which had marked the Royal Sovereign Shoal since 1875. It is of concrete construction and was built in two sections on the beach at Newhaven. Built at a cost of £1.6 million. 




New Telescope

Britain's biggest new telescope - "Sir Isaac Newton" - at Royal Observatory, Herstmonceux, Sussex.




The Town Library Opens

Built for a cost of £144,000 on a former the bombed site with an adjoining Council Office block and underground theatre. 





The Congress Theatre Opens

The Indian Pavilion in Devonshire Park was demolished to make way for the Congress Theatre complex. Has a seating capacity for 1680 people. 




World War II - 671 high explosives - 15 flying bombs - 3 enemy aircraft shot down - 200 killed 506 severely injured - 581 slightly injured - 475 houses destroyed - 1,000 seriously damaged - 10,000 slightly damaged - The Seafront, Wish Tower are gun posts



Nazi Bomb Damage

The bombing of Caffyn's Garage. Between 1942 and 43 Eastbourne was the target of German 'hit and run' raiders, making it the most bombed town on the south coast. 



The New Bandstand

Built in an Art Deco style at a cost of £32,,000. It established a fine tradition of Military band music over the years. 

Click the link below to see archive footage of the opening ceremony from British Pathe News










Luxor Cinema (aka ABC Cinema – now De Luxe Bingo Club) Opened

The Luxor Cinema was opened on 3rd April 1933, The entrance at the left side of the building is surmounted by a large dome, with the auditorium running parallel to the road. Inside the auditorium seating was provided in stalls and circle levels. The proscenium was 40 feet wide, the 25 feet deep stage was used in the early years for cine-variety acts and concerts by famous dance bands of the day. The Luxor Cinema was equipped with a Compton 3Manual/6Ranks organ with illuminated console, which was opened by organist John Howlett. Taken over by the Union Cinemas chain on 26th October 1935, they were taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) in October 1937. It was re-named ABC in February 1962. The Compton organ was removed from the building in 1972, and the cinema was closed on 2nd May 1973 for twinning. The circle became a 585-seat auditorium. A new proscenium was built in front of the original one. A second screen was created out of a former cafe space, with seating for 159. The stalls area became a Painted Wagon bar. When the Cannon Group took over the cinema operation in 1986, it was re-named Cannon. The bar in the stalls became an independent bingo club, known as the De Luxe Bingo Club, with the part of building which had become the small auditorium in use as a bar, known as the Luxor & Seven. Cannon opened a brand new 6-screen multiplex east of the town centre at The Crumbles in August 1990, and the former Luxor/ABC/Cannon was closed as a cinema on 21st February 1991. The bingo club remained open until its closure in May 2011. The entire building now stands empty and unused.


Towner Art gallery opens

The Towner Gallery opened in 1923 following the death of Alderman John Towner who left 22 paintings and £6,000 for the establishment of an art gallery. Victorian narrative painting, mainly of animals and children by predominantly mainstream artists formed the basis of the bequest reflecting its domestic rationale, a tendency that was continued throughout the first 80 years of the Towner’s history, located within the 18th-century manor house.





The Picturedrome Cinema Opens (aka now The Curzon Cinema)

The Picturedrome opened on 21st December 1920 with Victor McLaglen in "The Call of the Road", which was accompanied by Meny’s Celebrated Orchestra. Seating was provided in the auditorium for 1,100 in stalls and circle levels. It became part of the small local circuit operated by Randolph Richards.

The Picturedrome was damaged by German bombs in 1940, but quickly re-opened. It was sold to the Classic Cinemas chain in 1966 and was re-named Curzon Cinema. Classic Cinemas tripled the Curzon cinema and the seating capacities are now:530 in the former circle and two screens in the former stalls seating 236 each.








The Eastbourne Picture Theatre (aka Elysium/ Gaiety Cinema)

Later names included the Elysium (1921) and the Gaiety (1936) and was used as a bingo hall in its last incarnation. The cinema was built as the Eastbourne Picture Theatre, and became the

Elysium Cinema in 1921 and the Gaiety in 1936. Included as an unusually complete

example of a pre-1914 cinema, with considerable original plaster decoration. The Eastbourne Picture Theatre opened on Seaside in June 1914. It was equipped with a ‘Clavorchestra’ organ. In 1915 it was re-named Empire Cinema and in 1921 it was re-named Elysium Cinema.

In 1936 it came under the ownership of Randolph E. Richards and was re-vamped and underwent yet another name change to Gaiety Cinema. The Gaiety Cinema was closed during the heavy German bombing of the South Coast in September and October 1940 and remained closed until 1942. In 1966, Randolph E. Richards sold the Gaiety and his other Eastbourne cinema, the Picturedrome to Classic Cinemas Ltd. and the Gaiety Cinema was re-named New Classic Cinema. It was closed on 17th November 1973.In 2005, it was designated a Grade II Listed building by English Heritage.






The New Central Cinema (AKA The Manhattan Cinema)

New Central, Seaside Road opened in 1914. Originally called Central Hall Electric Cinema, it was renamed Central Cinema (1915), New Central Cinema (1923), Manhattan (1961); it closed in 1966 and has since provided a home for bingo and roller skating before its present use.




1911 - 1924 

An Eastbourne Aviation Company built Maurice Farman biplane

Founded by Bernard Fowler, four aircraft were built and 19 airmen trained before war broke out. Thereafter the airfield became a RNAS Training Station at which over 120 men learned to fly. Some 250 aircraft were built at the Seaplane Base factory. 




Tivoli Cinema & Theatre opened

Located on the corner of Seaside and Queen’s Gardens. The New Hall was built in 1889. In 1906 it was re-named New Picture Hall having been converted into cinema use. It was soon re-named New Picture Palace and in 1912 it became the Eastbourne Picture Palace.

In 1915 it was re-named Tivoli Cinema, which by 1939 had become the Tivoli Super Cinema. It was closed in September 1939 at the outbreak of World War II, and didn’t reopen until 1944.

In 1977 it was taken over by new operators, and the Tivoli Cinema was closed on 22nd September 1982. It became the Tivoli Performing Arts Centre from 28th May 1983. In the late-1980’s it was converted into a nightclub and theatre, Last named as Joe Pip's closing around 2002, and the building is now converted into office and housing use.



Motcombe Swimming Pool Opened




A unused chalk pit was laid out as an Italian Garden at a cost of £400. The name originates from a small fishing hamlet further west. 



The Technical Institute and Free Library

Built at the junction of Grove and Orchard Roads on land given by the Duke and supported by a donation of £10,000 from Andrew Carnegie, the Scot born American millionaire. It contained a Free Library, Museum, Municipal Boys' School and School of Art. Destroyed by bombing in WW2. 



The First Municipal Bus Service

Eastbourne's was one of the very first municipal 'bus services. The earliest buses had an open driver's cab, no number plate and were painted in a red/brown livery. 



Beachy Head Lighthouse

Built of Cornish granite at the foot of the cliffs, this lighthouse replaced the earlier Belle Tout on the cliff top. It was automated in 1983. 



The Original Bandstand

Built at a cost of £350 known as 'The Birdcage', it lasted for 50 years. 



Life-boat House built



The Town Hall

Designed by W. Tadman Foulkes and built by local builder James Peerless on the site of Stocks Bank in Grove Road. The clock was installed later in 1892 





Devonshire Park Theatre opened







The Theatre Royal and Opera House built (aka Royal Hippodrome)

The Royal Hippodrome opened in 1883 as the New Theatre Royal and Opera House. It changed to the Royal Hippodrome in 1904 following refurbishment. The music hall star Vesta Tilley appeared on a bill here in May 1903. The theatre also attracted several other star names during the music hall era including Harry Houdini, Marie Lloyd, Albert Chevalier, Little Tich, Charlie Chaplin, Gracie Fields, Harry Lauder, George Robey, Flanagan & Allen and Max Miller



Royal Parade and Sea Wall completed, it was started in 1848 but it is still standing


1882 The Former Albion Hotel Built

on Marine Parade, the formerly Albion Hotel, was the first in the town to be connected to the new Electric Light company, and first to be connected to a telephone number 1.



South of England Grass Court Tennis Championships first held in Devonshire Park



Eastbourne Electric Light Company formed



Queens Hotel built



Grand Hotel opened



The Opening of Devonshire Park

Originally laid out with terraces, walks and cricket ground, later additions included tennis courts, racquets, a roller skating rink and a music garden. Bordered by the Devonshire baths (1874), the Winter Gardens (1875) and the Devonshire Park Theatre (1884). 



Devonshire Place

A beautiful avenue which is the focal point of Currey's design for the 7th Duke of Devonshire's town. The Duke's statue sits at the seaward end. 


1873 Cavendish Hotel opened

The Cavendish Hotel on the corner of Devonshire Place built in 1873. On Monday, May 4th 1942 it received a direct hit from a German bomb.  Now only half of the original Victorian architecture remains, the wing was rebuilt after the war in a modern squared design



Eastbourne College founded

Established with the help of the Duke of Devonshire as an independent school 'for the sons of noblemen and gentlemen'. It now caters for the education of almost 600 boys and girls, about half of whom are borders. 



The New Sewage Outfall

Dr Charles Hayman provided the stimulus which resulted in the building of the town's first proper drainage and sewer system. 




Eastbourne Pier Built      (Click Here To See Pier Timeline - The PIER HAS ITS OWN HISTORY PAGE)

Designed by Eugenius Birch and built by the Eastbourne Pier Company for £15,000. It has been altered and repaired several times. Originally a landing stage for steamers, it also enabled the gentry to 'walk on water'. 






Eastbourne Gazette first published




William Cavendish 2nd Earl of Burlington, later 7th Duke of Devonshire

Responsible, through his architect, Henry Currey, for the elegant design of the town westwards of Devonshire Place, the Meads area and the Western Parades, which turned Eastbourne into a watering place for the upper classes. 









Burlington Hotel

Foundation stone laid. Builders become bankrupt, Burlington Hoteland Clearmont Hotel, Carpet Gardens, Eastbourne seafront has kept its design since the late 1800's. The Burlngton is a grade II listed building and was bult in 1851.












The First Railway Station 

A branch line from Polegate to Eastbourne joined the town to the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway system. The station was originally a wooden hut near the southern end of the present Avenue. The coming of the railway accelerated the growth of the town. 



Town Plan Drawn UP

Burlington commissioned Decimus Burton to drawn up a plan for the new town of Eastbourne



2nd Earl of Burlington inherited the Eastbourne estate



Belle Tout lighthouse brought into use



Belle Tout Lighthouse

First constructed of wood by 'Mad Jack' Fuller, it was later rebuilt in stone. Still later, in private ownership, it was given to the Corporation in 1948. It is now privately owned and was moved away from the cliff edge in 1999. 



The First Lifeboat

Built of wood by a local boatbuilder called Simpson following the wreck of the 'The Thames', an early Indiaman. Given by 'Mad Jack' Fuller of Brightling , MP and builder of follies, it was in service until 1863. 



Building of the Great Redoubt Fortress commenced

Napoleonic raids were a threat. Two circular walls surround a moat; the inner section has several recesses for billeting soldiers and storing ammunition. It was fortified further in World War II when pillboxes and other structures were added.




Martello Towers

Built as a defense against Napoleonic invasion, the towers extended from Suffolk to Seaford. The Wish Tower is number 73. 




Gilbert Arms

At the junction of Terminus and Grove Roads, formerly the Hartfield Farmhouse, it became an inn in 1849 and was popularly known as the Squirrel after the image on the Gilbert family arms. Demolished in the 1870s. 


1794 - 1990 

Eastbourne Workhouse (1930 became St Mary’s Hospital)

In 1817, the Eastbourne Guardians established a workhouse on Church Street in rented premises that had been built as a barracks during the Napoleonic war.

The workhouse later became St Mary's Hospital. The buildings were demolished in 1990 and the site now contains a housing development




St. Mary's schools opened in Old Town




12th Century 

St Mary's Church

Built in 1160 - 1190, the Parish Church was enlarged in the 14th Century and restored in the mid 19th Century.



Gilbert Manor House, later Towner Art Gallery

Built by Dr. Lushington and purchased by Charles Gilbert in 1792, it became the Gilbert/Gildredge Manor House. Sold to the Eastbourne Borough for £19,000 in 1923 for use as the Towner Art Gallery, after Alderman Towner had left a bequest of £6,000 and his collection of pictures. 



The Round House

A former horizontal windmill converted to a house by James Gandon. Near the site of the pier entrance, it was demolished in 1841. Used by Prince Edward in 1780 and later by other royal children. 



Bourne Place, later Compton Place 

Built by James Burton, it is the only Grade 1 listed building in Eastbourne. It is one of the Eastbourne properties of the Dukes of Devonshire. Leased to a language school. 



Michelham Priory

The Augustine Priory of the Holy Trinity was founded at Michelham in 1229. The Priory was dissolved in the 1537 dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. The Church and some of the building were demolished and between 1599 and 1601 the house was sold to Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset. It was then sold to James Gwynne in 1896 and was where his children Rupert, Roland and Violet grew up.[1] The property remained in private hands into the 20th century, when it was restored by the Sussex architect and antiquarian, Walter Godfrey. It was used as a base for Canadian troops during the winter of 1941-42 while they prepared for the Dieppe Raid. Later it was the East Sussex headquarters of the Auxiliary Territorial Service.





The Lamb Inn was built opposite St. Mary's Church in Old Town

The Lamb Inn was a coach house and was the equivalent of the local train station of its day, with horse drawn coaches traveling to and from London. In th High Street, Old Town, formerly assembly rooms and Ballroom. Renovated in 1912 when the plaster front was removed.








Pilgrims house, England's oldest inhabited house

Eastbourne's oldest house and thought to be the oldest in England built 1134. The 13th Century, Lamb Inn (as popular now as it ever was) was built facing the church. On the other side of the road, is the timbered house, Pilgrims, which has mediaeval origins and is thought to be one of the oldest inhabited private homes in the British Isles. Pictures of Eastbourne, 





The Domesday Book 

Eastbourne is recorded with population of 68 villeins and 6 labourers, with 28 ploughlands, a wooden church and Roger the Cleric, about 3360 acres (1000 hectares) in total: one church, one mill and a supply of salt pans. 


500 AD 


There is reference in the Anglo-Saxon charter to Burne or Bourne. An Anglo-Saxon cemetery overlies the Iron Age settlement on St Anne's Hill where weapons, jewellery, glass and pottery were recovered. 


AD 290

Pevensey Castle 

Started life as a fort, and built bigger with time, in 1042, when the Anglo Saxon Earl of Wessex, Harold Godwinson (later King Harold II) established a strong point there, improving fortifications by digging ditches within the walls of the Roman fort. William the conquor of Normandy invaded Sussex, landing at Pevensey Bay in September 1066 the invading Normans created a dry ditch around the west gate. Around 1190-1220 the present twin-towered gatehouse was constructed, making it one of the earliest known examples of this type. In 1415, king Henry V sent his hostage king James I of Scotland to the castle. 1945 During WWII the castle was used by the home guard and as a military camp for anti-aircraft troops. It also housed American and Canadian troops who were officially responsible for this section of coast in case of an invasion. A number of pillbox defences were built into the fabric of the castle.



43 AD 

Roman Villa

Local Romans ruled from their sea view villa and developed the existing farm economy. Roman baths and pavements were exposed in 1712 and 1841 near the site of the Queens Hotel. 


700 BC 

Iron Age Pottery

The Shinewater settlement survived into the Iron Age. Pottery was made locally and imported. An extensive settlement existed on St Anne's Hill. 


2400 BC 

Bronze Age Axes

Numerous burial mounds exist on the Downland. Exceptional bronze and gold work has been found in the cliffs and a Late Bronze Age lagoon-side settlement exists at Shinewater. 


4000 BC 

Late Stone Age - Neolithic Site on Bullock Down

Early farmers built the Neolithic causewayed enclosure on Combe Hill, created long barrows for their dead and possessed axes of imported volcanic rock. 


7000 BC 

Stone Age

Flint hand axes and scrapers have been found on the Downs, together with waste flakes made by the knappers. 

Arlington bluebell walk
Friston Hill East Dean
Pevensey Castle Sunset
Belle Tout Lighthouse Eastbourne
Seagull on Groyne Eastbourne Pier
Pevesey Bay Beach Groynes
Seven Sisters
Eastbourne Pier Windmills
Stunt Bike at Eastbourne Pier
Cuckmere Haven Seven Sisters
710B1 Hastings Boats P1190534.jpg
105B2 P1110022A.jpg