Pier fire was not the first

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This week in his continuing series Ion Castro takes a look at a picture guide which contained a picture of Hastings Pier before it was damaged in a blaze in 1915.

He writes: We know that out-of-town publishers were producing guides to the Hastings area and one such publication was the oddly priced ‘Sevenpenny Guide’ (3p today) from E J Burrows but who was Burrows?

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Ed. J. Burrow and Co Ltd of Regent House, Kingsway, London WC and Cheltenham, appears to have been founded in 1901 by artist, copperplate engraver and writer, Edward J Burrow who had decided to turn his hobby into a commercial enterprise with his illustrations reproduced as postcards and in books.

A keen photographer with a natural enthusiasm for travelling, by the early 1900s Burrow had drawn, etched and photographed around 500 of England’s schools, cathedrals and famous landmarks.

In 1904 the Ed. J. Burrows Company published the first ‘Burrows Guide’ - a guide to Cheltenham - and by the 1930s the now famous Burrows Guides were available for over 500 different destinations, from Shetland to the Scilly Isles, many being published on behalf of local authorities; what is therefore a little surprising is the fact that for the Hastings edition the photographs were supplied by well-known local photographic company Judge’s and were many years out of date when the Hastings Guide was published in 1919.

Edward Burrows died in 1935 but the company he founded is still in business today, trading as ‘Burrows Communications’

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The 120mm x 186mm (7½” x 5”) booklet ran to 52 pages with a soft card cover and a couple of maps. The paper quality was not the best which meant that the pictures were not as sharp as would perhaps have been desirable but the information contained was quite detailed with comprehensive details of Tram routes, costs, prices and facilities at White Rock Baths.

Captions

Hastings Council bought a quarter of Hastings Pier in September 1914 and rebuilt it as an extension of the promenade. A bandstand and two curving large shelters were erected (the western shelter survived the 2010 fire, has been restored, and is still there) and the extension was officially opened on April 19 1916. However, on July 15th 1915 a great fire destroyed the pavilion at the seaward end of Hastings Pier. The blaze was thought to have been caused by one of the Canadian soldiers stationed in the town discarding a cigarette. Much of the pier was damaged and it took until 1922 until a replacement pavilion was built. This photograph must therefore date from late 1915, the pavilion is still there as is the bandstand but not the shelters

Hastings from the Castle appears to be another out-of-date photo, the ‘New Promenade’ had been extended over the beach area on the lower left some ten years earlier than the publication. ‘Beach Terrace’ can still be seen lower left and the famous ‘OXO’ sign would have been displayed on the western end of the terrace.

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With the Refreshment Kiosk in Alexandra Park, the infill of the bandstand has been removed and it’s still in use today.

No series would be complete without a picture of the late lamented Hastings Memorial to Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert. It fell victim of Hastings’ municipal vandalism in 1972

Shown is an interesting view of the interior of a draper’s or milliner’s shop that is now part of Walker’s Bar and Bistro.

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

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