The biggest news stories in Eastbourne in 2019

2019 was an eventful year for Eastbourne.

Monday, 23rd December 2019, 12:46 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd December 2019, 1:27 pm

It was a year which drew the eyes of the world to our town as a seafront landmark went up in flames. There were some shocking incidents, poignant moments, and the town flourished as The Beacon burst forth onto the retail scene, and the roadworks retreated (a little) to reveal a whole new town centre layout.

As the decade comes to a close, we have gathered together a selection of our most-read stories this year.

The Claremont Hotel fire, November 2019

Back in June, readers were astonished when a shocking video emerged of a section of railway line near Eastbourne station sparking and making a loud ‘bang’.

A well-known television personality took over an historic hotel in Alfriston. She welcomed the whole village to come inside and take a look at her plans, which should come into fruition, after a 10 month closure, next year.

Sam and Lucy of The Mad Catter with Cherri, Toast and Marmalade (Photo by Jopn Rigby)

It was the day Eastbourne stood still. The spectre of the gutted Claremont Hotel remains on the cordoned seafront, a reminder of November 22 when the Grade II* listed building went up in flames, spreading enormous columns of smoke pluming into the sky.

A bomb squad was called in and 100m cordon set up around Grove Road when a man entered the council offices and said he had a hand grenade in his van.

Around four fighter jets were spotted soaring in the skies above Eastbourne in November, sparking much speculation as to what they were up to. An aviation photographer said they were Belgium aircraft returning home, while another reader said it was connected to nearby NATO drills. We contacted the Ministry of Defence for further information, but never received a reply.

It was a poignant moment when the Dakotas soared quietly over Beachy Head on June 5 this year. The event, in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, was delayed – but that did not dampen people’s sprirts.

It was a first for Eastbourne – and the whole of Sussex – as the Mad Catter cat cafe opened in Station Parade in October. Sam, Lucy, and the 10 cuddly felines were rushed off their feet with curious visitors.

It was the end of an era as the owner of much-loved discount store ESK announced it will officially close in July 2020.

As Eastbourne waved hello to a new cinema, the shiny new Cineworld in The Beacon, another which has been in town almost 100 years announced its final curtain call. The Curzon in Langney Road says it may not reach its milestone anniversary in December 2020, and a campaign was launched to get locals to continue to support it.

And finally, Eastbourne voted to oust Stephen Lloyd and bring back Caroline Ansell to be its MP in the December 12 General Election. Mrs Ansell won by almost 5,000 votes, with 26,951 people voting for her to be their next MP.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone, and thank you for supporting the Eastbourne Herald.