Local photo obsession enters 20th Century

Packet 5 SUS-150720-075450001
Packet 5 SUS-150720-075450001

This week, in his continuing series, Ion Castro looks at a new development where, early in the 20th Century, Robertson Street stationers Barrett’s

started selling packets of photographs showing local views.

He writes: We know that as the years either side of the beginning of the 20th Century progressed there was an upsurge in the publishing of local views and information, and pictures were becoming increasingly popular.

We have seen the progression from engravings, etchings and lithographs through to photographs and how they were presented. Nearly always it has been in book form whether as single sided pages, a leporello concertina view or a conventional book of double sided pages.

The public’s appetite appeared undiminished and this would continue even after Eastman Kodak’s Box Brownie made its appearance in 1901 and the public were able to take their own snapshots.

It was just before the turn of the 20th century that Barrett stationer in Robertson Street was selling packets of photographs. Barrett’s shop was at number 17, next door to Brookers bookshop at 16, the same Brooker that had been Jepson’s partner a few shops further on.

Rather than publishing a book These photographs, 200m x 150mm were sold loose in a packet. They were not printed on card as we are accustomed to today but on very thin paper, just like the albumen prints of previous years. Many would end up pasted into albums.

Similar photographs, clearly from the same negatives, can be found supplied by different outlets and in differing sizes. None of the photographs are credited and could have been the work of one photographer or a team based locally or elsewhere.

The image of the Albert Memorial was taken from the Memorial Art Gallery, which is still there. The number of horse buses does have to be questioned, and the photographer may have indulged in a very early form of photoshopping to add extra vehicles to the view.

In the photograph of the beach, most of this area is now covered by Sidney Little’s underground car park. Where the sea wall is can still be seen at the back of the car park. The bathing machines were for the use of gentlemen, segregated from the ladies. The pleasure yachts such as the Seagull and Albertine occupy the centre ground. These were very popular with visitors, taking 30 or more at a time for short trips out to sea.

From the Castle, one of the towers of the Queens Hotel can be seen in the background. Whilst the view may appear familiar, the right-hand area above the iconic arch has been built up over the years to help support the masonry on the right

An image of the Parade shows the pier on the left and the Grand Hotel on the right, later replaced with Waverley Court. It may have been Hastings’ reputation for having a healthy climate that encouraged the large number of bath chairs that can be seen.

With the photo of the pier, the poster on the right appears to be advertising an event on Wednesday 13th of July 1898. Another poster advertises steamer trips from the end of the pier. This was also a favourite place for carriages to ply for hire. Eugenius Birch’s ‘A frame’ design for the support of the pier decking and its angled supporting piles can clearly be seen.

The photograph of St Leonards was clearly taken from the pier looking West and St Leonards pier can be seen in the background. Some 30 years later Sidney Little’s Bottle Alley would occupy the area in front of the sea wall.

The photo of the White Rock was taken from the pier, this time looking East, and the terrace of houses has changed little. Notice the number of small boats drawn up on the beach.

All illustrations throughout this series are from Ion’s own collection and there’s more local history on his website, www.historichastings.co.uk

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.

1 Make our website your homepage at www.hastingsobserver.co.uk

2 Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/hastingsobserver

3 Follow us on Twitter @HastingsObs

4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!

The Hastings Observer - always the first with your local news.

Be part of it.