This week, in his ongoing series, Ion Castro takes a look at Hazelhurst, a convalescent home for those in the printing industry, which was situated off The Ridge.
He writes: The large convalescent homes that have lined the cliff top on West Hill above Marina at West St Leonards for well over a century are fairly well known but there was a lesser-known convalescent home for around twenty years in Stonestile (or Stone Stile) Lane that runs inland from The Ridge by the new Conquerors March pub.
A large private residence, Hazelhurst, dating from the mid 1800’s had been taken over in 1926 by the National Union of Printing and Paper Workers when it moved its convalescent home from Carshalton and this move may have been influenced by the existence of Hermitage Convalescent Home in Holmesdale Gardens run by the Printers’ Medical Aid and Sanatoria Association (PMA).
This new home was named after Alfred Evans (c1851- 1918) as the ‘Alf Evans Memorial Convalescent Home’ in 1958 the home moved again, this time to Bexhill where it was opened in October 1958 by the then Lord Mayor of London, Sir Denis Truscott, a leading figure in the printing industry, as a convalescent home of the National Union of Printing, Bookbinders and Paper Workers (now the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades), and was still called the Alf Evans Memorial Home complete with a bust of Alf Evans on top of a plinth in the gardens facing the sea.
This move didn’t last long and the property was put up for sale in 1963 and is now BUPA Grosvenor Park nursing and residential home. The bust has disappeared.
Hazelhurst remained empty for some years until it was converted into a dozen apartments and the whole complex renamed Hazel Court, even Hazelhurst Cottages further down the road have now been renamed Hazel Court Cottages.
But who was Alfred Evans? – Alf Evans was a British trade union organiser and had been the general secretary of the Printers’ and Stationers’ Warehousemen, Cutters and Assistants’ Union from its formation in 1899.
He took the union through a series of mergers; notably, the National Bookfolders’ and Kindred Trades Union and he is noted for being a keen advocate of women’s trade unionism. He actively encouraged a significant female membership.
By 1914 Evans had taken the Warehousemen and Cutters into a further merger, forming the National Union of Printing and Paper Workers, where he emerged as general secretary of the new union. In this role, he promoted the construction of a large convalescent home for workers in Carshalton, which was completed before he died in 1918.
Evans had also held various posts in the broader union movement: he was a member of the Parliamentary Committee of the Trades Union Congress from 1911 until 1915 and he not only served on the executive of the Printing and Kindred Trades Federation, but was also as its London District Secretary.
The National Amalgamated Society of Printers’ Warehousemen and Cutters originated as the Printers’ and Stationers’ Warehousemen, Cutters and Assistants’ Union, founded early in 1899 by Alf Evans, who remained general secretary throughout its existence. Later in the year, it merged with the Amalgamated Society of Printers’ Warehousemen to form the National Amalgamated Society, based in Fleet Street.
By 1900, the union had 1,500 members, and it continued to grow rapidly, the Manchester Printers’ and Stationers’ Cutters’ Union joining in 1901, and the union accepting women as members from 1902. In 1903, the National Bookfolders and Kindred Trades Union affiliated to the National Amalgamated Society, becoming the union’s women’s section.
The Dublin Paper Cutters’ Society joined the union in 1904. By 1910, it had 5,276 members, and by 1914, more than 9,000, and unusual for the period, more than a third being women.
In 1914, the union merged with the National Union of Paper Mill Workers and the Vellum and Parchment Makers’ Society to form the National Union of Printing and Paper Workers with a membership of more than 20,000, and it grew again as the Male Relief Stampers’ Society joined in 1919. In 1921, it merged with the National Union of Bookbinders and Machine Rulers to form the National Union of Printing, Bookbinding, Machine Ruling and Paper Workers.
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 postcard shows one of the many pathways within the estate which is still set in wooded surroundings.
Alf Evans Memorial Home Hastings.
A card posted in September 1947, the writer says “Having a nice time, feeling fine and stronger. Perfect weather.” Notice the addition of an extension on the right.
Another of the postcards produced for the use of residents, the large windows look out over the grounds.
Stone Stile Lane is behind the building and a large extension to the northern (right hand side) end of the building was added before the last war. The notes attached to this illustration in “The Building News, Sept 23 1881” says “Hazlehurst, Ore, Hastings.
This house as it now stands, is the combined production of five or six architects, the original building having been added to at various times. Our illustration is taken from a drawing in this year’s Royal Academy, and is intended to show the latest addition, that of a new drawing room and school room, the one at either end of the building, with bedrooms over; besides these there have been various alterations in the internal arrangements of the house. The architect is Mr.W.Hay Murray, of Hastings and the builder is Mr. James Stubberfield, of Ore”. In 1881 this part of The Ridge was called ‘London Road, Ore’ because this sparsely occupied area was still considered part of Ore and included in Ore Parish.
Ladies’ Sitting Room.
This postcard, from the 1930’s, shows the Ladies’ Sitting Room with, in the centre of the picture, a small piano to complement the contemporary furniture.
Men’s Sitting Room.
This 1930’s view shows the Men’s Sitting Room, apparently much larger than the Ladies equivalent and boasts a grand piano and, in the centre of the picture, a radiogram, a combined wireless, gramophone and record cabinet which would have been quite a status symbol at this time
The Main Entrance Hall.
A 1930’s postcard with a fine selection of leather club armchairs
View from Verandah.
The back of the building even today looks out over woodlands and the area is still largely undeveloped.
View of Home from West.
A postcard from the 1030’s, in this view from Stonestile Land on the left looking down the entrance to the private carriage drive the later additions at the far end can’t be seen and the view is very similar today and the driveway still exits back onto Stone Stile Lane.