Orchestra strikes up for Winter in Hastings

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Winter LB 9 SUS-151123-114633001

This week, in his ongoing series, Ion Castro takes a look at a winter guide brochure promoting the Municipal Orchestra and The White Rock Pavilion which had been opened by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) on April 6th 1927.

He writes: The Pavilion, (now Theatre) had been built on the site of the East Sussex hospital, opened in 1887 and it in turn had replaced the 1841 infirmary. This edition, published almost a decade later follows in the same theme and was published for the: Entertainments Department of the Hastings Corporation by the Hastings & St Leonards Borough Association and Printed by King Bros & Potts Ltd, 64 66 Norman Road. St. Leonards.

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Winter LB 8 SUS-151123-114622001

The guide consists of 52 pages and a tinted card cover, 190mm x 260mm and also promotes the town as a winter resort encouraging outsiders to live here.

Prospective residents are informed of its advantages as a place of residence – comparatively low rents and rates, cheap electricity and gas and plentiful public transport. The sunshine record since 1881, placing Hastings at the top of the league tables is noted.

Clubs and social activities available include Bridge and Chess, and most denominations of churches are represented. Other entertainment includes cinemas, two piers, public parks with tennis and bowls. Other winter sports and pastimes in the wider area are hunting with East Sussex Foxhound sand Romney Marsh & Rother Valley Harriers,

There are two Golf Links, one in Hastings and the other in St.Leonards. Sidney Little has rebuilt the underground swimming bath complex with Turkish & Medical Baths.

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Winter LB 7 SUS-151123-114603001

‘Historic Hastings’ is referred to briefly in a ‘Quaint-Old-Town-with-a-fishing-quarter’ context and a there’s a mention of the Castle and Caves.

The excellence of the Borough as a motoring centre is described “Note the road from London to Hastings is one of the prettiest in England, it passes through most delightful Kent and Sussex rural districts and the interesting towns of Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells. The roads are quite good and the journey is usually done in about two hours. A day’s motor run to London and back is a real pleasure.”

The guide has a comprehensive list, in the form of advertisements for hotels and places to stay and there are advertisements for other local businesses.

As would be expected, the main feature is the Hastings & St. Leonards Municipal Orchestra and 34 personnel forming the orchestra are listed with their instruments. There are photographs of the personalities and a programme of events - The Eleventh Annual Festival of Music features internationally famous conductors Sir Henry Wood and Sir Adrian Boult amongst others and concerts would be broadcast by the BBC. Season tickets can be had for 12 concerts a week at a cost of £2 2s 0d (£2.10) with single tickets for Ordinary Concerts “including tax” at 2/- (10p), 1/6 97½p), 1/- (5p) & 6d. (2½p) Coffee Concerts and Tea Concerts were 6d.

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Winter LB 5 SUS-151123-114031001

Cinema travelogues are still popular on Mondays at 3pm and 8pm – ‘illustrated with coloured film and slides’ and titles like ‘Across the Sahara to Timbuctoo’

Marine Court is nearing completion and features on many of the pages as “Britain’s Finest Service Flats – and “The new section of the Parade at St. Leonards, embodying Sun Lounge, Sun Shelters, and Car Park, will be opened simultaneously with Marine Court in the late autumn of 1937. The Sun Lounge will have a central glass roof and will be nearly 200 feet long and 20 feet wide. It will be possible to accommodate five hundred people at the tables and, at times, when musical attractions are provided, seating accommodation can be found for a thousand people.

This is the fourth section of the Hastings and St. Lconards parade to be reconstructed on modern lines. The cost of this section is approximately £50,000.(over £3 million today) The Marine Court is the highest dwelling-place in England. This unique structure was famous before it was built. The original drawing was exhibited in the Royal Academy where it attracted considerable attention. The building is unique in its construction because the design is suggested by the lines of the ‘Queen Mary’ The advantage of this is that it allows spacious balconies also a southern aspect to every flat and provides a maximum amount of light and air. ‘Marine Court’ includes two large restaurants with a capacity for seating a thousand people, besides a spacious lounge with magnificent views. This new feature will fill a long felt want for large conferences, public dinners and social gatherings. There is no doubt that the erection of ‘Marine Court’ and its adjacent new promenade will in future have a marked beneficial effect on the further prosperity of Hastings and St. Leonards.”

Unfortunately the war was to intervene and the block was to be requisitioned for the billeting of troops and the promenade came to an abrupt end just to the west of the Sun Lounge where it reverted to its original Victorian pattern.

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Winter LB 6 SUS-151123-114101001

All illustrations throughout this series are from Ion’s own collection and there’s more local history on his website, www.historichastings.co.uk


Golf 1

The whole area is now covered with housing, the golf course is remembered in the golf-related street names. Harley Shute bridge over the railway can be seen on the horizon above the golfers.

Golf 2

A view from the Clubhouse on Filsham Valley (road) looking towards the east

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Winter LB 4 SUS-151123-114013001

Interior of White Rock Pavilion - A Broadcast Concert

A microphone can be seen suspended in front of the orchestra. The orchestra was also recorded onto gramophone records

Marine Court

Original caption: “Fourteen Storeys high, served by automatic lifts, the accommodation ranges from a one room flat to suite of six or more rooms. Every modern feature for labour-saving and comfort has been embodied; including air conditioning - constant hot water - controlled central heating - modern cookers – refrigerators - electric clocks - energised aerial radio and television reception and intercommunicating, telephones, The restaurant capable of seating 500 people. Rentals were to be from £95 per annum.”.

The illustration is an artist’s impression and it appears as if there was an intention for the ‘Bottle Alley’ theme to be continued westward


The pier had been reconstructed over the preceding decade at a cost of £100,000 (nearly £6,500,000 today) and offered a wide range of attractions until it was cut in half as a defence strategy during the last war when of course maintenance ceased.

White Rock Baths

Sidney Little had only recently completed the rebuilding of the baths for the corporation in contemporary ‘Art Deco’ style.

White Rock Pavilion Café

The balcony area has now been enclosed.


The side wings of the balcony were removed when the White Rock Pavilion was remodelled as the White Rock Theatre some 20 years ago.

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Winter LB 2 SUS-151123-113457001