Eastbourne Pier is a firm favourite on the south coast of England and has an air of refinement and charm about it that is almost unique in terms of the piers that are still remaining today.
Although it has undergone significant refurbishment over the years, this has always been very tastefully done and the end result is a construction that somehow is rather quintessentially English, in a somewhat understated way, less ostentatious perhaps.
Eastbourne pier was officially opened in 1870, but construction work was not completed until 1872. It was fairly rigorously constructed and has not been so adversely affected by storms or floods, as some of its counterparts. The only significant damage it has suffered was in 1877, when part of the pier at shore side was literally washed away, but since then there has been relatively little incidence of damage.
When it first opened, the pier was simply a promenade facility with little in the way of facilities. A total of 6 little kiosks were provided, but in effect that was about it. It was (and indeed still is) a good length at about 303 metres (1,000 ft). So it makes a nice walk and the Victorians and Edwardians soon took Eastbourne to their hearts, as they took their promenades on the pier.
As Eastbourne Pier became more popular, more services and facilities were provided, including a rather opulent pavilion, with a 400 seat capacity, but this was to be short-lived, since it was only constructed in 1888 but was then replaced with a much grander 1000 seat theatre as well as a bar and office accommodation. Two ‘saloon’ type facilities were introduced halfway down the pier as well, so there was plenty to do.
1912 saw a new entrance being created, which was truly Edwardian and perhaps a little more minimalist than certain Victorian ‘follies’ had been. This air of Edwardian simplicity is still very much retained in Eastbourne Pier today, even though the Edwardian entrance gates were replaced in the 1950’s. They are not, however, vulgar or ugly, but have been designed in accordance with Edwardian charm. So in some ways the fact that part of it was built in Victorian times and part in Edwardian times, makes it an almost unique blend of the best from these two eras, with the Edwardian entrance perhaps influencing it more than the Victorian internal, which has been substantially changed over the years.
One of the classic features of Eastbourne Pier is the camera obscura, which was actually introduced as part of the 1888 refurbishment and is a wonderful attraction, having been very lovingly restored in 2003. This has a simply amazing 360° projection. Truly stunning and it is quite amazing to think that it is so old.
Eastbourne Pier also boasts a nightclub, which used to be the former theatre, but which is quite unique as piers go. Despite the fact that Eastbourne is viewed as being a retirement option, there is not just the nightclub on the pier, but also other things happening at night, such as the Bar Copa, which unlike the nightclub is free. Bar Copa is open every night till late, but the Atlantis nightclub is only open from Wednesday through to Saturday, but you can dance the night away until 2 am, all year round.
For those who are too young… or even too old to go clubbing there is still a lot to do. There are two games arcades, where you can play very space age games or just stick with the old traditional and well loved games, such as the good old slot machines.
Eastbourne also has a little bit of an edge on some of her contemporaries, through having a glass blower, where you can see the most intricate of ornaments being blown, literally before your eyes. The shops are also very good and are just that little bit different.
There are plenty of options for eating, from cheap and cheerful chips to a family type restaurant or deliciously traditional pub food. So you won’t be stuck for somewhere to eat, with all budgets and tastes catered for. From café stalls to nice dining, the choice is excellent.
The fact that Eastbourne is a relatively genteel resort, as English seaside resorts go, is reflected in the fact that it does not have the fairground rides that are so prevalent on other piers. So at Eastbourne, you will not be scared to death on some death defying ride. No, you can gently amble down the pier, taking a pause to look through the camera obscura whilst you are going down, pop into one of the little shops or just clean out your system with some good old fashioned fresh air as you stride (or stroll, depending on your preferences) down the pier.
Families and disabled people will find everything on one level. The amusement arcades are the main attractions for children, or the camera obscura, but there is no dedicated children’s play area.
At night, Eastbourne pier is lit up which shows off its proud entrance and beautiful shape perfectly. It is a wonderful spectacle and it lends Eastbourne Pier an air of elegance that is very apt and fitting. It shows her at her very best.
Eastbourne Pier is not as loud and cheap or cheerful as many of her sisters. She seems more refined and just slightly more cultured. Despite this it is a lovely pier for anyone to visit, regardless of age. Although if a seaside pier is simply about rides and the fairground then Eastbourne will probably not be your desired choice. But if you enjoy the sea air, a family environment, losing a few £’s in the amusement arcade and having some great views of the sea and indeed the waterfront at Eastbourne, then you will probably fall in love with Eastbourne Pier. She is somehow just a little bit classier than some of her sisters and in some ways Eastbourne Pier almost seems to know this!
Open all Year: 8am to 2am.
Atlantis open Wednesday to Saturday: 10pm to 2am.
Bar Copa 7 days a week till late.
FREE admission to Pier and FREE admission to Bar Copa.