Shop front discovery gives glimpse into town’s past

Arthur Tidy SUS-150728-124752001
Arthur Tidy SUS-150728-124752001

Work on a St Leonards shop has revealed a fascinating piece of local history.

Builders working on the shop, at the Mercatoria end of Norman Road, uncovered the original hand-painted sign which read Arthur Tidy & Son, Bootmakers & Repairers and Leather & Rubber Goods.

The shop is being restored by an artist who moved to Hastings in January and is having work carried out on the property.

She said: “We had no idea it was there. On Tuesday the workers pulled the ply off the front, sent me the first ‘&’ image and I said take the rest off now. I’m coming back home!

“ We do know this is probably the original shop sign pre 1900. I am restoring it back. I will use it as an artist studio workspace and home.

“I am thrilled to bits as I am very interested in history.

“It’s the most original shopfront on Norman Road that seems to exist.”

She added: “So many people were stopping to take a look including the old ladies in their nineties across the road who seem to remember Arthur Tidy.

“I found his obituary as dying of sudden heart failure in 1928. He had one son, and his wife was Alice Mary.

“We have had around 50 people a day passing who want to stop and chat about the sign.

The discovery of the old shopfront has also generated a lot of interest on Facebook with people revealing more about Arthur Tidy and the business.

Mary Burgess wrote: “ I lived in Mercatoria from about 1937 until I married in 1955.

“Gwen Tidy was my age and we went to Mercatoria School until it closed in 1940 due to evacuation.

“Our shoes went to Tidy’s for mending. My family were the owners of Chapmans Dairy on the North Street.

“My Dad always called the cottages opposite the shop as on the stones, as when he was a boy all the gardens there were actually covered in stones.

“A couple of doors towards Mercatoria was a sweet shop owned by a Mr Allen and on the corner was Kennards a furniture warehouse. This was destroyed by a bomb and was still used as a car park when I married.

Gavin Bottomley commented on Facebook: “It’s great to see it being restored.”

Doreen Krelle said; “It’s like the shop-fronts being uncovered in Kings Road. It is so nice to see them being kept.”

The artist, who does not want to be named, will be using the old shop as her workplace and may open a gallery there at some point in the future.

Do you have more information on Arthur Tidy and the history of the shop? If so call us or send an email to hastings.observer@jpress.co.uk.

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