Let’s Go To the Marina

Words by Harry Pope, Images by Ann Ritchie

Imagine where London is, draw a line south, and you come to the coastal town of Brighton, with a population of a quarter of a million. Go to the east for one hour, and here is Eastbourne, with one hundred thousand residents. Were you to continue east, in another hour you would land in Hastings, but we’re not going that far. 

Eastbourne is regarded as quite a genteel town, the average age is 37, but in a specific area called The Meads it is 73. The trendy part is four miles to the east of the Victorian pier, reclaimed beach after WW2 called Eastbourne Marina, or Harbour. It’s on a site known as The Crumbles, used to be occupied by fishermen and their boats. The Marina is one of the biggest in the UK, with many boats permanently moored, never leaving, used for weekend recreational reasons. Very expensive way of entertaining friends with a weekend gin and tonic on deck. Apparently 24% of all boats moored in this particular Marina never leave. But they do have to come out of the water annually for their seaworthy certificate.

There are a lot of apartment blocks surrounding the harbour, which is accessible via a lock that is manned throughout. Pedestrians can walk across the closed gates, vehicle access via public roads. The management have always been sensible, making the large visitor  car park free. Anyone who come to visit Eastbourne as a seaside resort should spend some time with this attractive inexpensive destination.  

The car park is alongside the private members yacht club, it’s great to pause a while and watch the service yard, look out for boats on joists going slowly past for servicing. There are quite a few inner locks to the Marina, vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, who share the wide pathways. Plenty of public seating, plenty of cafes and restaurants. There is always boating activity, with one of the side locks giving access to a dock for unloading fish. As is usual these days, a lot of the catch is consumed in France, especially the more exotic. However, for those locals in the know, the road from town to harbour has a car park on fishermans green, which backs onto the beach, which houses Southern Head Fishing. This is a fresh fish shop, public and wholesale, we are frequent customers.

Meanwhile, back at the Marina, as well as the apartment blocks, there are million pound detached houses with mooring. There is also during the warmer months a pleasure boat that taken an hour to traverse the harbour Called The African Queen after the 1951 Humphrey Bogart movie, it is a delight to listen to the commentary as you are shown the expensive properties, the people on their yachts, while attempting to hide the expression of envy. Put put put goes the little boat as it glides though the internal locks, never to see the outer harbour, which is home to usually one seal, but often a couple more. Plenty of fish around, but I imagine not pleasant tasting as the water in the Marina is mainly static, unaffected by tides. 

Not many shops connected to the Marina, but there is an outlet connected with B&M, Asda, Sports Direct, and quite a few more. Overlooking the main Marin a is a series of eateries. The best Thai restaurant is one, but make sure your credit card is healthy. The busiest Harvester restaurant on the south coast is here, a couple of really decent Italian, Indian, fish and chips, there’s nothing like sitting on the terrace, watching the sun go down, glass of chilled white, plate of pasta.  

Oh yes, why is the area called The Crumbles? No idea, will have to research for a future article. But I do know there were a couple of grizzly murders here in the 1920’s.  

Photos copyright Ann Ritchie, used by kind permission


  • Harry Pope

    Harry Pope realised he could write when he first went to school, and hasn’t stopped since. He returned the next day after parental prompting, because he realised he could talk as well, just as well because he is now in retirement a cruise ship lecturer with P&O and Saga, talking about the greatest comedians the UK has ever known. He is not a lecturer, nor a stand-up comedian, but an entertainer. His wife Pam goes as well, as there are so many groupies onboard.

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