John’s knowledge of town was immense

The Red House SUS-160216-093220001
The Red House SUS-160216-093220001

Observer reporter Andrew Hemsley writes:

The vanished pubs of Hastings - John Hodges knew them all, exactly where they were located and, in most cases, who ran them and what breweries (most no longer existing) served them.

And we are talking about hundreds of pubs here - an important part of the town’s social and cultural history which he had meticulously researched and preserved over many years.

I was lucky enough to hear John speaking on the subject on the few occasions he gave public talks, revealing that the Old Town alone once had around 100 licensed premises and two breweries.

He resurrected those long forgotten local pubs which used to ring with talk and laughter - brought them to life down to the last detail, in most cases illustrated with extremely rare pictures he had sourced.

More usually he would share his knowledge with me at the bar of the Dripping Spring, in Tower Road, where he would pop in for an early evening pint of his favourite real ale Goachers Light.

Though John could often be found in a pub, he never stayed long and I never knew him to be anything less than sober. Quiet and circumspect, he never flaunted his incredible knowledge - in most cases I had to prise it out of him.

Not only did John have an incredible wealth of knowledge, he was generous with it.

I still have a rare picture he gave me of the Red House, a former pub on the corner of Emmanuel Road and St George’s Road, which my grandparents owned and where I spent much of my childhood.

The 1930’s photograph John found for me shows the Red House when it was still a pub, with a beer delivery taking place.

I hope the huge and detailed body of research that John built up will find the home in this town’s social and historical archives that it richly deserves.

Hastings owes John Hodges that as much as it owes him a debt as a very dedicated and skilled councillor.

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