What it's like to live in Seaford
PUBLISHED: 10:27 16 May 2017 | UPDATED: 10:51 02 May 2018
Last year Seaford was one of the UK's top five towns for house price growth. Duncan Hall finds out why
The A259 runs through the centre of Seaford, and the town is easily accessed by road from Newhaven, Alfriston and Eastbourne via the Seven Sisters and Birling Gap.
It is on the end of a railway line running from Brighton through Lewes with half-hourly services – although the town suffered greatly during last year’s Southern rail strikes when a three-month emergency timetable was imposed replacing trains with buses.
Seaford is served by Brighton and Hove’s Coaster 12, 12A, 12X and 13X buses which run between Brighton and Eastbourne. There are also Cuckmere Bus services to Berwick and Alfriston, National Express coaches between London, Eastbourne and Helston and town services operated by Cuckmere Buses and Compass Travel.
Newhaven, the next town west, runs three ferries to Dieppe every day from its harbour.
In his guide to East Sussex published in 1965, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner described Seaford as “the least gay of the chain of south coast seaside places south of London” pointing to its lack of pavilion, amusement arcade and a “far from thriving” esplanade. But while Brighton at the other end of the railway line running through Lewes and Newhaven has attractions aplenty, Seaford’s big shingle and sand beaches, stunning views across the harbour and quieter feel make it more of a family and a commuter destination for those wanting to get to Brighton, Eastbourne, Lewes or even London.
In the Middle Ages Seaford was a major port owing to its position on the mouth of the River Ouse. The town, which made its money through the export of wool and corn, is thought to have been founded in the 12th century. But river silting began to make sea access difficult, and eventually in 1539 the river course was altered to nearby Meeching – now known as Newhaven.
During its time as a port the town suffered a number of attacks from French pirates – being burnt down and rebuilt several times between the 14th and 16th centuries. But the locals got their own back – gaining a reputation as looters and wreckers luring sailing ships onto the shore.
The opening of the railway to Lewes and Newhaven in 1864 brought back some of the town’s former glory as a potential tourist destination. Today its proximity to the Seven Sisters Country Park, Alfriston, Newhaven Fort, Lewes, Eastbourne and Brighton still mean it attracts visitors.
Annual festivals and events
In common with many towns and villages in East Sussex Seaford has its own bonfire society, which holds a celebration in October. The society holds various events and fundraisers through the year. For more information visit www.seafordbonfire.org.uk.
Every August Seaford takes part in the two-week Artwave Festival, which sees artists and makers open up their homes and galleries to visitors. 2017’s event is from 19 August until 3 September. For more information visit www.artwavefestival.org.
Each December the town council supports Seaford Christmas Magic, a day-long event featuring stalls, Christmas trees, a hog roast and a lantern parade. The 2017 event is on Saturday 2 December.
The three-day greenfield jazz festival Love Supreme returns to Glynde Place, less than 10 miles away, from Friday 30 June to Sunday 2 July 2017 featuring performances by The Jacksons, George Benson, Gregory Porter and Herbie Hancock. For more information visit www.lovesupremefestival.com.
Glyndebourne Opera House and the Charleston Farmhouse in Firle, which both hold two festival seasons each year, are only a short drive away.
The biggest attraction at Seaford is the beach, with visitors able to park practically on the seashore for free if they get in early enough. The town has a small town centre, including a Morrisons supermarket, Tesco Express and a range of charity and specialist shops including a toy shop, fishmongers and bakery. It has a small selection of well-supported restaurants, pubs, cafés, and takeaways in the town, as well as the popular ice cream parlour Holy Cow! in Sutton Road. The Clinton Centre in Clinton Place, hosts a weekly indoor market.
Seaford has two theatres, The Barn in Saxon Lane, which hosts community cinema events as well as productions by both the Seaford Musical Theatre and its junior branch, and the 71-year-old Seaford Little Theatre in Steyne Road which puts on four productions a year. It also has its own library, a museum in a former Martello Tower along the Esplanade and The Crypt Art Gallery in Church Street. There are two GP surgeries: The Old School Surgery in Church Street and Seaford Health Centre in Dane Road.
Sports lovers can go to Salts Recreation Ground to watch Seaford Cricket Club play every summer, and Seaford Rugby Club, the only rugby club to play 60ft below sea level, in winter. Seaford Town FC plays at Crouch Playing Field. There are two golf courses, the downland course off Firle Road and the links course Seaford Head. Sailors can join Newhaven and Seaford Sailing Club.
The Downs Leisure Centre, in Sutton Road, has a gym, sports halls, outdoor all-weather pitch, soft play area and aerobics studio. Wave Leisure also runs Seaford Head Pool in Sutton Avenue, next to Seaford Head School.
Meet the neighbours
Vivienne Westwood’s punk muse Jordan was born in Seaford and now works in the town as a veterinary nurse. It has proved a popular training ground for drummers with Lawson sticksman Adam Pitts born and brought up in Seaford, Kooks drummer Paul Garred hailing from the town and Elvis Costello’s long-time drummer Pete Thomas spending his teenage years in Seaford. Hollyoaks twins Cassie and Connie Powney grew up in Seaford, and former motorcycle stunt rider Eddie Kidd, who was left paralysed when a jump went wrong in 1996, now calls it home.
Seaford has its own 20-strong town council, but comes under Lewes District Council and East Sussex County Council.
Before the 1832 Reform Act it was a rotten borough – one of 56 UK parliamentary boroughs with a tiny, easily controlled electorate. It is now part of the Lewes parliamentary constituency represented by Conservative Maria Caulfield who unseated Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker in 2015.