© Eastbourne and South Downs Philatelic Society 2013 / 2022

Eastbourne and South Downs Philatelic Society

The Eastbourne Society was founded as a section of the Eastbourne Natural History Society. The inaugural meeting was held on 28th September 1936, chaired by Mr. F.G. Bing, secretary of the parent organisation. He may have been the originator of the idea of a stamp society.

The  Early Years

Prior to the start of World War II the Society held fortnightly meetings at the Public (Free) Library. Membership increased gradually and in 1938 a Packet was introduced under the control of Charles F. Williams. The packet circulation was abandoned in 1939 but was re-introduced by popular demand in October 1940. By the outbreak of WW2 membership had increased to 49.

The Technical Institute and Free Library, site of the present day Public Library

At this time the Eastbourne Corporation Museum was staging weekly philatelic displays with material provided by club members.

A philatelic library began in 1939 when Mr. C. Stibbe donated 60 books and a bookcase.

The  Forties

Meetings continued in the Public Library with some curtailment until 1941 when they had to be suspended until October 1945. Before Eastbourne Philatelic Society reformed the South Downs Society (formerly Eastbourne Stamp Club) was formed by an enthusiastic group of collectors.

In 1946, at the Philatelic Congress of Great Britain, held in Brighton, a discussion took place about whether to form a County Federation. Following a positive response from Sussex Stamp Clubs the first meeting took place the following year.

By 1948 the Club meeting venue had changed to The Friends Meeting House in Wish Road. On 25th September the first convention of the Association of Sussex Philatelic Societies (A.S.P.S.) was held at the Winter Gardens in Eastbourne. It was hosted jointly by Eastbourne Philatelic Society and South Downs Philatelic Society.

The Winter Gardens seen from Devonshire Park

The  Fifties

In 1950 it became obvious that it would be beneficial if the two Societies amalgamated. The new club became Eastbourne and South Downs Philatelic Society (E&SDPS). A new venue was acquired in a large basement under the motor showroom at 19 Cornfield Road.

On 7th April 1951 the first ASPS Spring Convention was held at the Winter Gardens. ASPS membership had grown to around 600.

Between 25th to 28th May 1954 a section of the ‘Postal History of Sussex’ was on display in the Prince Wing of the Grand Hotel in Eastbourne during the Philatelic Congress meeting. By the end of 1954 membership had grown to almost 100.

Beyond the  Fifties

By 1963 meetings were being held weekly on Tuesdays at the Devonshire Baths building. Three competitions were introduced; The Ladies Cup, The Members Cup and The Classic Cup.

Early view of Devonshire Baths, what remains of the baths is now the Eastbourne Heritage Centre

In the seventies the Society was forced to find a new venue for its meetings. St. John Ambulance Brigade offered a large room with a storage cupboard at their headquarters in Bourne Street. Because this venue had other commitments club meetings had to be changed to Thursday evenings.This became the Society’s home for many years.

In early 2020 a decision was made to relocate to Broadway United Church in Hampden Park where improved parking facilities were available.

Before this move could take place the club had to close as a result of the regulations controlling the Covid pandemic.

The  Present

The Society is now established in it’s new venue and with the relaxation of Covid regulations has commenced regular activities,

At a time when many clubs and societies of all sorts, not just stamp clubs, are struggling to survive because of declining membership E&SDPS continues to maintain a healthy membership of close to 100.

We hold regular meetings on the second and fourth Thursday evenings of each month, taking a break for the Christmas festivities. Displays by visiting speakers and on members’ evenings are of a very high quality and thoroughly enjoyed by those members attending.

The packet continues to circulate around our members and is a valuable source of material for collections as well as providing funds for the club.

Auctions are held, on average, at two monthly intervals and they have proved to be very popular. Auction evenings are always very well attended.