How Hastings seafront looked before the pier

This view from the East Hill dates from the mid 1860s, in the right foreground are Lindsell Cottages newly built for the Hastings Cottage Improvement Society in 1862. Notice how close to the houses the shoreline is and the horse-capstans in the foreground. The registration letters of the fishing boats changed around this time and some can still be seen sporting their pre-RX registrations of RE. Bathing machine can bee seen at the waters edge in the distance.
This view from the East Hill dates from the mid 1860s, in the right foreground are Lindsell Cottages newly built for the Hastings Cottage Improvement Society in 1862. Notice how close to the houses the shoreline is and the horse-capstans in the foreground. The registration letters of the fishing boats changed around this time and some can still be seen sporting their pre-RX registrations of RE. Bathing machine can bee seen at the waters edge in the distance.

Work started on building the Hastings Pier on December 18 1869 with the first pile being driven or, more accurately screwed (because this was an Eugenius Birch pier) into the seabed at 3am and it was opened to the public on the first ever August Bank Holiday, Monday August 5 1872, by then Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, the Earl of Granville, but what was there before that?

The population of Hastings was rising steadily from 3,318 in 1801 it had reached 25,929 in 1861 and, by the time the pier opened it was heading towards 38,000. The town of St. Leonards hadn’t existed before 1828 and was still independent and separate from Hastings and was run by a board of Commissioners with its boundary marked with an archway west of the bottom of London Road although the eastern boundary of the postal area of St Leonards started at White Rock.

All illustrations throughout this series are from Ion Castro’s own collection and he can make available copies of many of the historic images used in this series. There’s more local history on Ion’s website, www.historichastings.co.uk