This week in his ongoing series Ion Castro takes a look at the Official Programme and Letter Card. Published in the early years of the last century, they were produced on a weekly basis – rather like a modern ‘What’s On’
He writes: These pocket-sized guides were designed to be mailed through the post, having a three-fold cover with a lick-and-stick adhesive edge and a space for correspondence on the first page. The earlier editions had 36 sides of information, a colour cover and advertisements but by 1920 this was down to 20 sides and a monochrome cover and the cost of postage had gone up from 1d to 1½d (there were 240d – ‘pennies’- to the £, a shilling was 12 pence). The pages were approximately 90mm x 167mm.
In the days before advertising standards it’s not clear who, if anyone, officially sanctioned the publication or whether King Bros & Potts, printers and stationers, who published the programme, took it upon themselves.
It’s also not clear who the target customers were, possibly the concept was that accommodation providers could send them out to prospective visitors. The photographs of local views were credited “K.B.& P., Photo” which does not help with identifying the photographer.
The main events for each day were listed with the Hastings and St Leonards Borough Entertainments Association featuring their concerts on the centre page double spread and we are informed that fortnightly chair tickets cost two shillings and sixpence (half a crown or 12 ½p today).
The events for Monday, August 23, 1909 for example tell us that high water was at 2:56am and 3:14pm and “Light Up” (lighting up time) was between 8pm and 6am.
The Borough Orchestra plays at the White Rock Bandstand at 11-15, 3-30 and 7-45. The D’Oyly Carte Opera Company was at the Gaiety Theatre (now Odeon cinema) at 7-45. Hastings Pier featured variety entertainment at 7-45 and The American Palace Pier had a performance of “The White Chrysanthemum” at 8-0. Wallace Arthur’s Concert Party appeared in Alexandra Park at 3 and at the Beach Pavilion at 8. St Clements Caves were open daily from 10 am to 10 pm and the White Rock Baths were open from 7am until dusk and there were pleasure sailings (presumably from Hastings Pier) by the “Brighton Queen,” “Glen Rosa” and “Bonnie Doon”. This sort of format seems to have been followed throughout the life of the programme.
In Ion’s pictures Benbow offered hairdressing 1913 style, you didn’t have to leave a tip either.
Show in the Craig-y-Don boarding house. James Burton had brought this building down from London in prefabricated form in 1828 and Princess, later Queen, Victoria had stayed there in 1834 it’s now Crown House, 57 Marina. Craig-y-Don is a suburb of Llandudno in North Wales.
The Dorset laundry is shown in 1920 and was housed in a fine Art Deco building that was pulled down overnight (echoes of St.Leonards Arch?) some 20 years ago to prevent it being listed. The site has now been redeveloped.
Eversfield Place is pictured here in 1909. Nowadays it is the entrance to the lower deck of Sidney Little’s “Bottle Alley” and roughly in line with the Flagstaff. Note the very steep slipway in the centre of the picture.
In 1909 the pavilion on St Leonards pier had just been turned into a fashionable lounge called the Kursaal – the word is German, meaning a “Cure Hall” or spa, and it seems to have been adapted to mean a place of healthy amusement. The name “Kursaal” was first used in 1901, to describe one of the world’s first purpose-built amusement parks at Southend-on-Sea, Essex, and the use of this description seems to have proliferated throughout many coastal resorts.
With Pino-Creo, H.C.Edwards, MPS, seems to have been a thriving concern locally in 1913 with four branches. If it worked so well why did BJ require a bigger bottle (see the testimonial)
The ‘Sunny Hastings’ cover in 1920 had replaced the full-colour cover of earlier years. Note tramlines in the foreground.
Teacher is a fine example of a 1920’s fashion drawing, next door to H.C.Edwards, MPS at No 17. King Bros & Potts the printers also had a branch at No 2 Queens Road.
The original White Rock Baths, Bandstand and uncluttered Hastings Pier are shown in 1909. Notice that both tram tracks are on the left hand side of the road, this would cause problems when motorcar ownership increased.
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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