Heritage Locations

Caffyns Motor Showroom, Eastbourne

Early motor showroom built in a grandiose style


Period of construction:
1900 - 1949

Transport Trust plaque:

Transport Mode:

Caffyns, Meads Road, Eastbourne, BN20 7DR

BN20 7DR

Nearest Town:

Heritage Centre:

In the early years of the 20th Century, Percy and Harry Caffyn saw the profit potential of the motor car and secure¬ a site on the corner of Marine Parade and Seaside Road in Eastbourne. Their vision was¬ a garage which would provide sales, service and coachbuilding facilities under one roof, with a potential to cater for one hundred cars.¬ 

Harry Caffyn was responsible for fitting the new premises, setting up the engineers' shop, the electric lighting, and installing an electric car lift - the first of its kind in Britain. The premises consisted of three floors with a row of six large windows on each floor under a flat roof , with striped brick columns between the windows. By 1906,¬ Marine Parade garage was operational; they isued a¬ catalogue which quickly drew the attention of the "nobility, gentry and all interested in Motoring".

The¬ garage not only offered¬ car hire, driving lessons and¬ repainting, but also¬ the supply of horns, lamps and goggles, as well as¬ the overhaul of steam and electric cars. It was a truly comprehensive offering.¬ Agencies held included Argyll, Belsize, Clement-Talbot, Siddeley and Wolseley. As Wolseley ultimately became part of British Leyland this association, unbroken since 1906, is believed to be a motor industry record.

Another project followed in Meads Road in 1911 in the form of a garage and showroom on a corner site, opposite the Town Hall. It is this site which survives today. it occupies land formerly the site of a number of cottages and is next to the site of William Morris Caffyn's small blacksmith's shop opened more than forty years earlier. It is a grandiose structure on two storeys, with large gables, Greek columns at first floor level and striped brickwork. On an upper floor an elegant suite, the Saffron's Rooms, which were available for hire for "Receptions, Amateur Theatricals, Lectures, Private Dances, Concerts, Bazaars etc.". These rooms are now-occupied by the Company's Head Office.

Over one hundred years since the company started, the company is still trading and has retained their Sussex roots. Caffyns were responsible during the interwar years for a large number of art deco showrooms around the county.

Aamo, Alv Sogstad, Petrol Station: A Visual History, Norsk Form (Norway) ISBN-10 8245200107 (1995)

Demaus, A. B.
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Harmsworth, Sir Alfred,
Motors and Motor Driving, Longmans, The Badminton Library, (1904)

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The Architecture of British Transport in the Twentieth Century, Yale ISBN 0-300-10624 (2004)

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Pascal, Dominique, Stations Service, ETAI (France), ISBN 2-7268-8341-9 (1999)

Rolt, L. T. C.
, Motoring History, Dutton, ASIN B0010ZXCK4 (1964)

Russell, Tim, Fill 'er Up: The Great American Gas Station, Voyageur, ISBN-10 0760328714 (2007)

Ware, Michael, A Roadside Camera, David & Charles, ISBN 0 7153 6791 9 (1974)

Witzel, Michael, American Gas Station: History and Folklore of Gas Stations in America, MBI, ISBN-10 0760306494 (1998)

Opening Times:
Visible at all times and open during business hours as offices.

How To Find:
By Road: Near the Town Hall in the centre of Eastbourne.


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