The land now occupied by Princes Park once formed part of the Crumbles.  This was a large area of 'fossil' shingle storm beach that extended for several miles along this part of the South Coast.  Until around 1800 there was little human activity in the area but at that time the threat of French invasion caused the Martello Towers to be built and Gunnery ranges to be set up.  The low round towers still form prominent landmarks today although they were never used for their original purpose of defending the South Coast.

By 1900 Eastbourne Town was rapidly expanding eastwards and the area of the Park became known as Gilbert's Recreation Ground after the land owner, Mr Carew Davis-Gilbert.  In 1906/07 Mr Davis-Gilbert agreed to lease approximately 28 acres of land to Eastbourne Corporation, this was to have been for 50 years at an annual rent of £5.00.  However, on the 15th August 1922 the Gilbert Recreation Ground and 'land adjoining' (the Oval) were conveyed to the corporation for the total cost of £2,200 - a lot of money in those days.

Princes Park was laid out as it is today, on shingle waste, between the First and Second World Wars, the work was carried out mainly by the unemployed in 1921.  The shingle waste formed part of the Crumbles and stretched for several miles along the South Coast.  The lake is fed by a river and is also tidal, hence the sluice gates at either end of the lake to stop it draining at low tide.  Due to the tidal aspect the lake has a mix of fresh and salt water.

On the 30th June 1931 the Duke of Windsor, as Prince of Wales, visited the Park and planted an evergreen Oak in part of the Park that is now the Oval.  The Oak is still there to this day and can be seen to the East of the football stand.  Shortly after the Duke of Windor's visit the Park was re-named 'Princes Park' in his honour.

In 1953 Mr Claude Lane negotiated the lease on a permanent site for The Eastbourne Electric Tramway.  The first cars used on the line were miniture trams but due to the popularity of the trams larger ones were built for use at Eastbourne.

As the company had no further use for the miniture trams, they were withdrawn from service and No's 3, 225 and 238 were sold and shipped to the United States.  Miniture tram No 226 was converted to a works car.

The track ran for 2/3 miles between Princes Park and the Crumbles and to service it Claude Lane's Barnet works turned out a larger open top tram to spearhead the new 2ft gauge operation.  The No 6 tram (pictured) was ready for the 1956 season and over fifty years later it is now the senior member of the Seaton fleet.  The terminus was on the edge of the Park, opposite what is now the Sovereign Centre and there were 4 double deck and 2 single deck trams on this line.

The Trams were very popular with locals and tourists alike but, by the mid 1960's, the growth of the towns road system began to threaten the tramways future and in September 1969 the tramway was closed and transported to Seaton in Devon to be partially re-assembled before the 1970 holiday season.  The trams are still running there to this day.

The Oval has been home to Eastbourne United Football club since 1947.  The then local Council improved the site by laying a pitch, an athletics track and a grass cycle track.  During the 1952/53 season plans were made for a Grandstand and Terracing as the Council had granted the Club a new long lease.  In 1958/59 the first floodlights were erected and there have been 3 more sets of lights since then, the most recent in late 2009.

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