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Eastbourne is a delightful seaside town situated on the Surrey coast. The town lies between the imposing White Cliffs of Dover and the Romney Marshes, demonstrating some clever decision making by the locals since all of the adjacent towns have since sunk without a trace, or plunged 350 feet from the receding chalk cliffs into the English Channel.

The town used to be called Bourne but was re-named in 1962 to differentiate it from Bournemouth which, despite an almost identical age demographic that keeps their teeth in a glass beside the bed, is further west, where residents prefer walking along the beach wearing knotted hankies, rather than safety helmets.

edit History

When the Romans invaded England they settled by the sea in Sussex and, at the mouth of the River Bourne, built a settlement which included a fort, villa and an Italian ice cream parlour. Historians believe it was here that the eccentric and entirely inappropriate British habit of eating ice cream only at the sea side, where residents are most exposed to the almost constant high wind and rain, began.

Following the Norman Conquest a motte and bailey castle was built inland at the source of the river. Although evidence of a fortification that probably sunk in the marshes remains, the area still bears the name Motcombe meaning ‘Site of the motte, maybe'.

A medieval town grew up around the church dedicated to St Mary of Mead, patron saint of the incontinent alcoholics. The local pub, Ye Olde Lambe Inn maintains active discussion among regulars, about whether the first proprietor thought a sheep was just an old lamb, or perhaps the lamb was young, but the pub was old, or perhaps they thought it was a good name to attract mock-tudor loving cagoulists, for a healthy portion of ye olde calf and ale pie with chunky chittlings. The pub was a distribution point for smuggled goods and is famous for its many secret tunnels that lead to the church, the old manor house, Beachy Head lighthouse, Seaford and Calais.

Smuggling was rife in the eighteenth century. Goods such as brandy, marzipan, tea and toast were smuggled into the country on the Dieppe to Newhaven ferry, taken by train to Eastbourne via Lewes and then onward to Ye Olde Lambe via the secret tunnels. Unfortunately, Crossrail found out about the tunnels and Eastbourne now has a high speed underground rail link extension to St Mary's Church crypt. This did not mean the tunnels ceased to be used for smuggling, it is just that they now smuggle refugees.

In 1853 Martha Gunn, an elderly housewife visiting from nearby Brighton, was washed out to sea whilst gathering wrinkles on the beach at Eastbourne. (Wrinkles are a shellfish similar to Winkles, but much older, just add ye-olde at the front, you'll get the picture). The emergency services lost no time in trying to rescue her by building a long metal pontoon into the sea. Unfortunately she had drowned when they reached her some two and a half years later, although that timescale for planning permission approval is actually panic-stricken for the local council. It was noticed that her time in the water had removed the grime of a long and difficult life and the craze of swimming in the sea started. The long pontoon was never dismantled and is now known as Eastbourne Pier.

edit Dukes of Devonshire

The Cavendish Family own many huge estates in Devonshire, particularly around the market towns of Matlock and Chesterfield. In 1524 Trevor Cavendish set off from Plymouth to claim a part of the ‘new world’ for Queen Elizabeth I. After many months of enduring treacherous, mountainous seas, his ship ‘The Skylark’, landed on a beautiful exotic sandy palm beach with a fresh spring. Cavendish thought he was in the Caribbean but of course had discovered Eastbourne. He built a mansion at Compton Place.

Every Christmas the spring was decorated with evergreens and to this day is known as the Hollywell.

edit Lighthouse

The first lighthouse was built on top of the cliffs at Beachy Head in 1765 by a Hippopotamus. As well as a lamp it also had a bell and a horn to warn passing shipping of the dangerous rocks below. As a result it became known as "Bell-Toot" lighthouse. The current lighthouse is actually a natural chalk stack. It was here that Sherlock Holmes retired to in 1902 to keep bees. In order to attract the bees he painted the stripes on the lighthouse. Unfortunately bees are colourblind and only react to yellow and pink and having landed on the side of the lighthouse, couldn't grip on the anti-graffiti paint so slid down the side of the lighthouse and drowned.

edit Bus Service

The motor omnibus was invented in Eastbourne and the first bus service in the world departed from the Railway Station at 9am on 1st March 1903. Unfortunately the bus stop had not been invented so the bus never stopped to pick up any passengers. To this day the whereabouts of this first bus is unknown.

edit Weather

Eastbourne is always sunny. It has not rained in Eastbourne since 1824.

edit Sport

The town football team, Eastbourne Eagles play their home matches at Hampden Park which is 400 miles away in Glasgow. The most famous local player was the magician ‘Tommy’ Cooper who famously performed his ‘hat-trick’ for England in the 1966 World Cup. His famous catchphrase was “they think its all over - just like that’”

Eastbourne Cricket Team play in bright yellow kit rather than the tradition white. Their nick-name is therefore ‘The Saffrons’

The Eastbourne Over-60s netball team was once mistaken for the the USA Basketball team and got into the semi-finals of the 1982 Olympics being beaten by Mexico 1,496-0

The golden sands of Eastbourne regularly host international Beach Volleyball tournaments

edit Shopping

Shopping in Eastbourne in the 1960s was such a depressing experience that many people gave up and committed suicide in the main shopping street which was renamed ‘Terminal Road’

Little Chelsea is a small area of bijoux shops, cafes and second-rate foreign football players. It is situated around the Town Hall in Grove Road.

The Crumbles Shopping Centre is named after a 1924 murder and is home to many high-end shops. Harrods, Selfridges, Liberty and Fortnum & Masons all have shops in nearby London.

edit Music

In the 1930s the people of the Empire were entertained by Eastbourne’s famous Palm Court Orchestra which played at the Grand Hotel. Their concerts were broadcast around the world by radio. The hotel was named after the orchestra’s Grand Piano.

The German composer, Claude Debussy stayed in a farm at Willingdon in the 1920s and was so impressed by the friendly carthorse called Boxer in the farmyard that he composed his famous opera “La Mare” there. The same horse was also featured in the George Orwell novel Animal Farm which was based in Willingdon.

Moira Stuart attended Willingdon Secondary School in the 1970s. Her first job was at the Birds Eye factory whose workers would frequent the nearby Sundowners Club. It was here the disco-funk group ‘Le Chic’ had their first gigs. Moira became their lead singer and scored a number one with their hit ‘Le Freak’

edit Famous Residents

Prime Minister Theresa May was born at Eastbourne Maternity Hospital as was guitarist Nile Rogers and and his brother Bill Rodgers the founder of the SDP.

Doctor Bunson Honeydew the discoverer of Penicillin lived for a short time in Seaside Road.

George V lived in a beach hut at Holywell but didn't stay long as it was inconvenient rushing into the freezing cold sea to go to the toilet. He died after catching a chill and his last words are said to have been "Bugger Eastbourne"

Captain Cedric Birdseye was the keeper of Beachy Head Lighthouse from 1880 to 1901. He would cut the arms off starfish and make them into sandwiches during his long lonely shifts. The fish-finger sandwich was born. Cedric established a factory nearby where hundreds of happy workers pulled the legs off starfish 24 hours a day and froze them before they were distributed around the world.

The American rock band Nirvana wrote the lyrics of ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’ at Eastbourne whilst staying at the Burlington Hotel in 1991. The band were staying in the town to visit Tina, the grandmother of band member David Grohl who was a resident at the ‘Fading Clouds’ rest home. It was her unusual smell that prompted the name of the song. Luckily she was not troubled by the murderer John Bodkin Adams who also lived in the town.

Charles Darwin came to Eastbourne for a seaside holiday in 1860. it is recorded that he had just made a rather lovely sandcastle and was sitting back in his deckchair, licking a 99 and admiring his work, when it was kicked over by a local yob. He was most unimpressed by the Neanderthal nature of Eastbourne men that it got him thinking. He rushed back to the Marine Guesthouse where he started to write the Origin of Species.

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