This week, in his ongoing series, Ion Castro takes a look at advertisements for local businesses from the early 1950’s.
He writes. In 1950 Hastings was recovering from the ravages of the Second World War during which a large part of its population had been evacuated and the fabric of the town had suffered from war damage and enforced neglect.
The census reported 65,073 inhabitants which was below the 1931 level of 66,319 showing that growth had stopped and wartime rationing was to endure until 1956, so what was on offer?
These advertisements have been gleaned from contemporary sources as close to 1950 as possible and give a flavour of the time; electrical shops were offering televisions for sale, although the surge in uptake didn’t happen until the Coronation of our current Queen was broadcast in 1953. At an equivalent cost of many thousands of pounds today, the demand could not have been high, particularly when it is remembered that there was only one channel, the broadcasts were for a few hours a day, only in the evening and in black and white on a very small screen in a grainy 405 lines.
The BBC’s monopoly on British television didn’t end until September 1955 when independent television arrived, complete with adverts to fund it. Television had been invented in Hastings and first demonstrated by John Logie Baird here back in 1924. It was not his system that was adopted after the war.
Motorcycles, British of course, were still popular as a means of transport for the majority of the population, most of whom couldn’t afford cars, but car hire was not uncommon and of course the vast majority of vehicles were British too, although takeovers within the industry meant that famous pre-war names were amalgamating.
Shops and department stores were important advertisers and locally this included Mastins, which had been established by a Belgian immigrant in the 1870’s. His shop, spanning 7-10 Breeds Place and 1 Castle Street, survived Hastings’ worst-ever fires in 1904 and was rebuilt with internal arcades making its windows accessible whatever the weather. That same year Mr Jules Mastin, a partner in the store, registered DY 1, Hastings’ first registration number which was to later adorn Hastings’ mayoral car. The business survived until the end of the 1969 and in 1972 their premises in Breeds Place was demolished to make way for an uninspiring office block (Cavendish House).
Plummers, with its origins in the late 19th century and itself the result of mergers and takeovers has fared somewhat better and was taken over by Debenhams and is still trading from its original premises.
A few further along Robertson Street the smaller, and more upmarket Jepsons survived until the 1970’s and are remembered for their amazing cash dispatch system where everything was dealt with by a central cashier who dealt with sales via an internal aerial mechanical communication system.
1950 saw Draper’s Mill at Silverhill was still standing, although it had ceased working in 1941. The original mill had been burnt down in 1867 and had been replaced with a larger new smock mill on the same site which was to last another 99 years, the replacement mill having been built by the well-known local millwrights, Upfields, and was known variously as Silverhill, Tivoli or Draper’s Mill; it stood until 1966 when it was demolished after storms had made it unsafe.
Fludes Carpets, now at Silverhill, dates from 1929 and opened their first Hastings Branch after the war, business must have been good because they expanded from Robertson Street to premises in Queens Road on the site of the Bedford Hotel, a victim of the Luftwaffe (now Santander Bank), and then moved to the site of the Roxy Cinema at Siverhill.
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 or contact him - firstname.lastname@example.org.
A well-known radio shop in Ore, it is not known how many Televisions they supplied in 1950 when this ad appeared. By the 1960’s they were in Robertson Street but appear to have ceased trading by the 1970’s.
This 1950 Advert for the Central Methodist Church dates from 1950, the church was built in 1875 on the site now occupied by Holmebury House, a block of retirement flats dating from in 1983. Despite the advertising, which continued for many years, the church closed and was demolished 30 years later in 1980. It had occupied the corner of Cornwallis Gardens, Homesdale Gardens and Cambridge Road, opposite the old ‘Observer Offices’.
Farmers Motorcycles premises are better known as the Market Hall in George Street, dating from the 18th century, after sharing the premises with a tyre concession the business had gone by the early 1970’s.
A 1950 ad when Fludes where in Robertson Street, by the early 1970’s they were also trading in Queens Road before consolidating at Silverhill.
Jepsons survived until the 1970’s before it ceased trading
This ad appeared in 1950 when according to the text, Mastins had been serving the public of Hastings for 77 years.
Plummers Hastings premises, had been designed in 1927 by Hastings’ most prolific Architect Henry Ward who had also designed all their other branches apart from Bournemouth. Ward was the architect of Hastings and Bexhill Town Halls as well as many other prominent buildings locally. Plummers were very close to ‘The Memorial’ (demolished in 1973) and liked to feature it in their advertising.
Popular car service.
Car ownership was not high in 1950 but vehicles could be hired if required,
Hastings Corporation Electricity department had supplied the town with electricity until nationalisation in 1948, it remained the electricity showrooms until privatisation.
In 1950 electric sewing machines were the exception rather than the rule and sufficient custom to sustain two shops.
Silverhill was not a wealthy part of the borough but still offered to supply televisions.
The building is still there and recognisable but the business has gone along with the petrol pumps.
In 1950 Draper’s were still trading from Silverhill Mill although the mill ceased operating in 1941, the structure was used as a store but was demolished in 1966 following storm damage.