This week, in his ongoing series, Ion Castro takes a look at the Hastings town centre spring up around Wellington Square.
He writes. Hastings continued to spread westward out of the Bourne Valley as the 19th century proceeded, and, by the middle of the century the area we now know as the town centre was pretty much complete.
In 1862 work was under way on building the 65ft high Albert Memorial clock tower which was finished the following year with the clock being installed in June 1864. “The Memorial”, as the area was until recently affectionately referred to, was to become the town centre and focus of the “New Town”.
At the same time development was continuing up the eastern side of what would become Queens Road – Meadow Cottages, Bedford Place, Spring Terrace and St Andrews Terrace. 1862 also saw work starting on the building of the Queens Hotel, on the corner of Harold Place and the seafront and it opened a year later and was, of course, more modern than the Castle Hotel and would have provided stiff competition had it not been for the surge in visitor numbers to the town boosted by the arrival of the railways at the new station at the top of Havelock Road since the late 1840’s. Visitor numbers continued to rise as did the number of residents - 8,976 recorded in the 1831 census, rising slightly to 9,500 a decade later, but the total had risen to 14,016 in 1851, almost doubling by 1861 to 25,929 and surging ahead to 37,842 in 1871. With a population of 49,755 in 1881 and the opening of the new Town Hall in Queens Road in 1882, the transition out of the ‘Old Town’ was complete.
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.
This extract from the 1859 map “Published by desire of the Mayor and Corporation of Hastings and under the Patronage of the Nobility, Clergy & Resident Gentry” shows Wellington Square complete and the big houses backing on to the cut-back cliffs now form complete terraces from York Place (now York Buildings) eastward through Castle Street, Breeds Place, Pelham Crescent and Pelham Place. The original Hastings Station can be seen upper left and the Priory Stream can be seen running through the Great Brook estate that now includes St Andrews Square is still unbuilt as is the western side of what will become Queens Road. Further down the Priory stream has been culverted and covered over as it runs through the town centre but ‘The Memorial’ has not yet been built and Priory Farm still occupies the area that will become Cornwallis Gardens and Cambridge Gardens. Building on ‘The America Ground’ in the bottom left corner is almost complete.
One of the lots from an auction held in the Royal Oak Hotel in Castle Street (bombed in the last war and later demolished) on Thursday August 11th 1859. For sale was No 8 Spring Terrace, later 8 St Andrews Road and now 44 Queens Road. A Mr Malachai Foote was renting the building for £40 a year, for that he got 2 Parlors, a double drawing room, 5 bedrooms, kitchen, scullery, yard with other conveniences and a back entrance. The price the building achieved is not recorded.
Hastings from Bohemia Road.
Rock print no 4976 dated 2nd April 1864. Wellington Square can be seen bathed in sunlight below the castle with the Priory Farm in the centre, the towers (now gone) of the Queens Hotel and the churches in Cambridge Road can also be seen on the right. The area in the foreground is now Cornwallis gardens with Cambridge Gardens behind it.
Hastings from the White Rock.
“Hastings, from near the White Rock Drawn, engraved and published by William Daniell, Cleveland Street, Fitzroy Square, London. August 1 1823”. William Daniell RA (1769–1837) was an English landscape and marine painter and printmaker, notable for his work in aquatint and he travelled around the coastline of Britain to paint watercolours for his ambitious book ‘A Voyage Round Great Britain’ and this image from that series and shows the end of Wellington Square below the castle. His work was exhibited at the Royal Academy and the British Institution and he became a Royal Academician in 1822.
A very early image of the Albert Memorial in 1863 before the clocks were fitted the following year. Francis Frith, founder of the famous postcard firm, took this photograph for his early guidebook ‘The Gossiping Photographer at Hastings’. The bottom of Cambridge Road (actually Robertson Street) and Havelock Road look very similar today.
The Wellington Baptist Chapel dates from the earliest years of the Square and is shown here adorning the cover of a copy of their Parish Magazine dated April 1896.
Rock Bread Factory.
The original caption for this image read “This is a view of the Famous Hastings Bakery, which has, probably, the largest Retail or Family connection in the Kingdom” Established in 1863 the premises are shown here toward the end of the 19th century. Located at the bottom of Castle Road (now Castle Hill Road) Feaist would later combine with Henry King to run a chain of retail bakers shops around Hastings & St.Leonards.
Wellington Square 1860.
Rock print No 1140 dated July 1860 shows Wellington Square complete and the Castle Hotel on the left.
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