This week, in his ongoing series, Ion Castro takes a look at the emergence of Robertson Street as a key shopping area.
We know that of His Majesty’s Commissioners of Woods Forests and Land Revenues had decided in 1828 that the Crown was the owner of the ‘America Ground’ and then granted 7 year leases to the inhabitants’ so that by Christmas 1835 the ground had been cleared and was standing empty, becoming known as the `Derelict’ or `Waste Lands` until 1849 when Patrick Francis Robertson real estate developer and MP for Hastings leased the crown lands for 99 years at a rate of £500 per annum. By the following year work had started on building the road that bears his name - Robertson Street which was originally built as high-class accommodation but less than a decade had passed before the ground floors of the fine houses had been transformed into shops, high class shops selling expensive goods to the upper echelons of Hastings society and earning itself the epithet “Hastings’ Regent Street”, an accolade it was to enjoy for the next century. As an aside, it’s interesting to note that Robertson Street actually ends at Andrews Estate Agents, which, in its original incarnation, would have looked out onto ‘The Memorial’ and the first building on Cambridge Road, also originally private housing, is stepped back and north of the block incorporating the former Public Hall, now Yates’ pub. Robertson street is also unusual in its premises numbering, rather than the convention of numbering odd numbers on one side of the road, evens on the other the numbering in Robertson Street runs sequentially from No 1, Debenhams to the seafront and then back down the other side of the road to Andrews and includes Holy Trinity Church which was designed by the Architect Teulon and occupies most of the centre of the Trinity Triangle. The building was opened in 1858 and is bounded on three sides by Robertson Street, Trinity Street and Claremont.
Many of the advertisements illustrated here featured in ‘Parsons Hastings St.Leonards and Neighbourhood Illustrated’ published around 1890, with Parsons’ offices and works in Claremont they would not have had to go far to canvass the shop owners.
All illustrations throughout this series are from Ion Castro’s own collection and he can make available copies of many of the historic images used in this series. There’s more local history on Ion’s website, www.historichastings.co.uk and more information about the America Ground on www.1066.net/america
Barrance & Ford.
In 1890 Barrance & Ford’s was a high class clothes shop at 31,32 and 33 Robertson Street.
J.Bell and Co’s Chymists at 22 Robertson Street, notice the spelling in the picture has been updated in the surrounding text.
George William Bradshaw was a well-known and local photographer, operating between 1887 and 1902 having taken over from Henry Constantine Jennings who had worked at 51c since 1881 and both men traded as ‘Memorial Studios’. In 1890 Bradshaw’s business moved next door to 51d.
Hallett the Jeweller at No 15 Robertson Street.
Henry Lancaster operated from the corner of Robertson Street and Trinity Street with another entrance in Cambridge Road and there was another branch on the opposite side of the road at 11 Robertson Street.
F.J.Parsons, an early proprietor of the Hastings & St Leonards Observer and originally operated from 14 Claremont before expanding into Cambridge Road after the first war, this bill heading from 1901 lists the services offered and branch offices.
An 1890 advert for M.Smout of 8 Trinity Street who sold ornamental seaweed and seashells, the inference was that the stock was locally sourced and would make a good souvenir of a trip to the seaside but much of the material on offer was in fact tropical.
Latimer’s the jewellers, watchmakers, Silversmiths and engravers was next door to the smaller branch of Henry Lancaster
This 1913 bill heading is from Lindridge & Co piano dealers based at 44 Robertson Street and includes an image of the premises, they also had a branch at 9 Claremont. In the days before wireless, gramophones and television most middle class families aspired to owning a piano which would have to be regularly tuned
The well-known name of Plummers, at this time rejoicing in the name ‘ Plummer, Roddis & Beecroft” and now Debenhams, are still at 1, 2, 3, 3A and Nos 6&7 Robertson Street and this bill heading from the early part of the last century shows the original appearance of the shops before they were remodelled by prolific Hastings architect Henry Ward in 1927. The branch at 10 Queens Road has now gone.
One of the first shops in Robertson Street, Ben Tree’s Library at No.35.