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Latitude: 50.7768 / 50°46'36"N
Longitude: 0.2976 / 0°17'51"E
OS Eastings: 562084
OS Northings: 99985
OS Grid: TV620999
Mapcode National: GBR MV8.B17
Mapcode Global: FRA C7H1.CR5
Entry Name: Bus Shelter
Listing Date: 21 August 2007
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1392212
English Heritage Legacy ID: 502505
Location: Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN22
County: East Sussex
Electoral Ward/Division: St Anthony's
Built-Up Area: Eastbourne
Traditional County: Sussex
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex
Church of England Parish: Eastbourne Christ Church
Church of England Diocese: Chichester
21-AUG-07 BUS SHELTER
Also Known As: BUS SHELTER, WHITLEY ROAD
Bus shelter, erected in the first decade of the C20.
MATERIALS: Brick plinth, tile roof wooden pilasters and weather-boarding
EXTERIOR: Oblong building on a brick plinth, central opening on the north east side. It has a peg-tiled hipped roof with cast iron ogee guttering. The walls are timber weather-boarding with painted wooden pilasters at the corners of the building and at the central opening. There is a large, oval-shaped and keyed oculus either side of the opening.
INTERIOR: A soldier-laid red brick step with tiled interior floor. Cement rendered floor and ceiling. Its timber seating was removed in about 1996.
HISTORY: The wooden bus shelter at the corner of Seaside and Whitley Road is believed to have been constructed by the firm, Bolton and Paul in the early C20. It is not extant on the 1899 Ordnance Survey map, when the locality is still largely agrarian. It does, however, appear in its current location on the 1910 Ordnance Survey map, following extensive suburban development in the locality in the first decade of the C20.
The building served as a bus shelter on one of the routes of the municipal bus service (the Motor Omnibus Department of Eastbourne Corporation). The Eastbourne motor bus service, inaugurated in April 1903, is historically important as being probably the world's first, and certainly Britain's first municipally run motor bus service. This was a landmark in the history of urban transport, which was being rapidly transformed at the end of the C19. The electrification of urban street tramways, for instance, begun in the 1890s, became globally widespread in the first decade of the C20. In 1886, the first internal combustion vehicles were demonstrated in Germany, and by 1899 the first privately-run motor bus services were begun in London. In the first decade of the C20, motor bus services became a standard feature of urban transport networks, being adopted for the first time in Paris in 1905 and Manchester in 1906, and in 1908 most of London's early motor bus services were largely consolidated into a single organised network under the London General Omnibus Company.
The first of Eastbourne's buses were Miles Daimler 32-seater, 16hp double-deckers. Early buses were slow and unreliable, but by around 1910, advances in design and technology were improving bus travel considerably. Horse-drawn urban passenger transport, still commonplace at the end of the C19, disappeared fast in the face of these advances. Eastbourne's last horse-drawn omnibus ran in August 1903.
It is difficult to connect the bus shelter at Seaside and Whitley Road to any identified construction programme connected with the new bus company. Passenger stops for horse omnibuses in late C19 Eastbourne seem to have generally consisted of enamelled signs affixed to lamps, trees or walls, rather than shelters. Hackney carriage (cab) passengers however, had been served by shelters at various places around the town, and there was an imposing passenger shelter canopy at the town's railway station. No other bus shelters of comparably early date in Eastbourne are known.
The bus shelter was erected at the corner of a park, in a new suburban development. Its decorative architecture suited well its location beside a park near the seafront (approximately 500m away), and as such can perhaps be thought of as a work of seaside resort public architecture as much as transport architecture.
SOURCES: David Spencer, Eastbourne Bus Story, Middleton Press, Midhurst, 1993. Websites of London's Transport Museum; the Museum of Transport, Manchester; the Musee des Transports Urbains, Paris.
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: The pre-1910 wooden bus shelter at the junction of Seaside and Whitley Road, Eastbourne, is a simple yet decorative public shelter building of the late Victorian/Edwardian period in a sub-classical style. The Seaside bus shelter is a relic from the early operation of Britain's first municipally run motor bus service, inaugurated in 1903, at a time when the urban transportation systems of the worlds' cities were being rapidly transformed. It therefore represents an early transport building of historic interest in addition to having stylish architectural detail of its period.
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