The rise and fall of a major local housebuilder
Eldridge and Cruttenden, which started in 1876, was one of the longest established building firms in Hastings and St Leonards. They were founded on the principle that they would always handle the smaller jobs with as much attention as they gave to the larger contracts. Albert Card started as an apprentice with Eldridge and Cruttenden in 1938. He said, “They were good employers but I cannot remember the rates of pay. Eldridge and Cruttenden built a row of houses at Battle; I used to cycle out there with a toilet tank tied under my crossbar and a bag of tools on the handle bars. Between the wars they built the end pavilion on the pier” For many years Eldridge and Cruttenden’s most notable work vehicle was a large, custom-built van; this was for the men to sleep in when working away from home on large jobs. The van, which was towed from site to site, was divided into two compartments and equipped with bunk beds. A labourer acted as cook. The van, named “The Dreadnought”, because of its size, was still in use in 1946 as an electrical and explosives store.

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