New lease of life for former hospital site

Roborough Day Hospital Upper Avenue Eastbourne. March 13th 2012 E11138P
Roborough Day Hospital Upper Avenue Eastbourne. March 13th 2012 E11138P

Plans are in the pipeline to convert part of the old Princess Alice Hospital into a language school.

Roborough Day Unit is one of the last remaining hospital buildings within the site in The Avenue and was once a school where Sir Alec Guinness went. In recent years it was used for day patient needs for many elderly people in the town with mental health problems before it closed in 2007.

Since then it has remained empty and now plans have been unveiled to restore the building to its former glory and turn it into an EF Language Centre.

Abingdon building consultants West Waddy ADP are behind the plans and the firm is currently talking to residents in the area about the redevelopment before putting a planning application in to Eastbourne Borough Council.

They say the site will be sympathetically extended for all year teaching and accommodation facilities, the grounds will be landscaped and the campus will make a “distinct view” at the top of The Avenue.

The building is owned by the NHS trust, which is selling the property after 65 years. Before that the building was used as Roborough School.

It was founded by a Mr Gilbert in 1905 and Roborough’s most famous pupil was the actor Sir Alec Guinness, best known for his roles in Bridge on the River Kwai and as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. He realised his interest in acting while at the school in the late 1920s.

The school like so many others in Eastbourne closed in 1940 as a result of World War II making the town unsafe for education because it was directly in the path of Luftwaffe bombers.

Roborough was taken over in 1949 by the NHS and used for many years until 1995 as a home for nurses working at the nearby hospital of Princess Alice, which opened in 1883, four years after the death of Princess Alice, who spent some of her last months in Eastbourne.