Devonshire Quarter – Opens This Week

The stunning new Congress Theatre reopened on Sunday 24th March after 7 years of work.  It all started when a chunk of concrete fell off the building in 2010 and it had to be closed to protect the public from danger.  It was decided that rather than patch the building up a full refurbishment would be carried out.

The aim was  to make the seating more comfortable, improve the heating and air conditioning, increase the number of toilets, improve the sound quality and update the lighting rigs.  It was also decided to knock down and rebuild the jaded conference centre in order to attract large conferences back to the town and improve and increase the number of tennis courts in the Devonshire Park

Since 2010 this 2* Listed building has been painstakingly refurbished in partnership with English Heritage who insisted that the original 1957 design was observed.

The original building was opened in 1963 with a concert by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and was declared second only to the Royal Festival Hall on the Southbank in London.  Since then it has welcomed the LPO several times each year as they treat Eastbourne’s Congress Theatre as their second home.

It was fitting therefore that the LPO returned yesterday with its Elegy and Triumph programme including Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmilla Overture , Elgar’s Cello Concerto, made famous in 1965 by the gifted cellist Jaqueline Du Pré, and Tchaikovsky’s 5th Symphony.

There’s a good reason why Elgar’s Cello Concerto is one of the nation’s favourite pieces, though it’s hard to believe it’s 100 years old this year. Like any true classic, it always sounds new – and in the hands of a cellist as insightful and as poetic as the young Austrian-Persian star Kian Soltani it sounded fresher than ever. Conductor Darrell Ang brought all his charisma to the firecracker of an overture by Glinka and the triumph of Tchaikovsky’s unashamedly autobiographical Fifth Symphony: music that the composer wanted to be played “with passion and desire”.

“I am exceedingly honoured and thrilled to be conducting the LPO at this special and historic occasion. This is one of the UK’s most prestigious venues, and its unique partnership with one of the world’s best orchestras is both a significant and characteristic feature of its importance.

“I have conducted the LPO here previously, and was extremely touched by the audience’s warmth and appreciation. Also it is clear the orchestra has great rapport with its Eastbourne fans. I’m really looking forward to a spectacular evening”


Darrell Ang: Conductor, London Philharmonic Orchestra.


Nearly 400,000 site hours have been worked on the site to bring this fantastic facility to life – with 20% of the work force based in Eastbourne and a further 20% in East Sussex.

In total, the Devonshire Quarter will generate 100 additional full-time jobs and an additional £4.6m spend every year by visitors from a site that already generates £18m spend in the local economy.

For more information about the renovations to the Devonshire Quarter – please download the guide below.


An update from the Devonshire Quarter - August 2018