Clubs and Societies Report: Family Roots

THE TALK at the Family Roots January meeting was by one of our regular speakers, Kevin Gordon.

Clubs and Societies Report

The subject was A Walk along Eastbourne Seafront.

We were treated to an extremely informative and richly illustrated ramble through time from Sovereign Harbour to Beachy Head; from the 1840s to the present day. After leaving the Sovereign Harbour there is the sewage treatment works at Langney Point, a structure designed to echo that of the Redoubt fortress a mile or so to the west. Touching briefly on a gruesome murder that took place on the Crumbles in the 1920s, Kevin introduced us to the small fishing fleet east of Splash Point and explained the registration system used for the fishing boats.

Moving further west, we were given a brief history of the Redoubt fortress itself and of the gardens alongside. Before reaching the pier on this part of the sea front, it is possible to see the concrete base of the old “birdcage” bandstand on the beach below the promenade.

On the other side of the pavement the sea defences that were installed over a century ago between the Redoubt and the pier and renewed in recent years are to be seen.

Kevin mentioned the history of the pier, its development and changing uses over the century and showed a fascinating picture of the unveiling of the memorial statue opposite the entrance to the pier to the Royal Sussex Regiment in 1906. Two more notable memorials on the sea front, to the seventh and eighth Dukes of Devonshire were included after we passed on to the new bandstand, by way of a number of the landmark hotels on Eastbourne seafront. Pictures from the past compared with modern views showed how very little many parts of the Eastbourne seafront have changed over the last hundred years or so. Earlier than this, however, the changes were massive as a view along the seafront from the pier towards the Wish Tower taken in the 1840s amply illustrated. We then travelled further west and were told of the development of the parades between the Wish Tower and Holywell, illustrated with a picture of the original chalk pit at Holywell before the trees for the Italian Garden were planted.

We were also shown a picture of the little fishing hamlet that used to nestle on the edge of the cliff just beyond that point.

Finally the end of our journey was reached at Beachy Head where we were given some fascinating details about the construction and operation of the lighthouse. At the end of his talk, Kevin was rewarded not only with applause but also with a number of suggestions from the floor for the embellishment of future versions of his talk. Our next meeting is on Thursday 3 February when Lady Teviot will talk about Wills and Administrations. Lady Teviot is an authority on many aspects of family history research and you may have seen her on BBC1’s Heir Hunters.The meeting is at Ocklynge School, Victoria Drive, Eastbourne, BN20 8XN, (entrance in Farlaine Rd) 7.15 pm for 7.30pm. At Family Roots we have book and library stands, a help desk with advice freely available for those researching their family tree. All visitors and new members will be most welcome.

For more information see our website www.eastbournefhs.org.uk or contact: Helen Warren 01323 731792.