This week, in his continuing series, Ion Castro takes a look at aerial pictures depicting Warrior Square and Marine Court.
He writes: It has probably been noticed that nearly all the aerial pictures of Hastings and St. Leonards are of the seafront and research would probably reveal that a whole swathe of coastal towns would have been photographed in the course of one day depending on the base airfield and the speed and range of the aeroplane. It would be nice to think that one of these aircraft would have flown from Hastings Aerodrome at Pebsham on the flat ground now occupied by the football fields close to the tip. This airfield originally opened in the early 1930’s and was suspended during the war to be re-opened in July 1948 with 24 visiting aircraft on display, it was then let on a 14 year lease to a private concern but finally closed in 1959 with the area’s aptitude for flooding no doubt a contributory factor. It is interesting to note that right up to its demise the airfield wasn’t ever mentioned in any post-war publicity material published by the local council and didn’t appear on any of the council’s tourist maps, probably because they all ended at the Bathing Pool.
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
The Hastings Fishermen’s Museum, Rock-a-Nore Road, open every day from 10am – 5pm, is hosting its own exhibition “A Birds-eye view of Hastings Fishing Beach and Coastline”
The Sea Front, Hastings & St.Leonards.
This postcard dates from immediately before the second war when Hastings was definitely on the up, Sidney Little’s double-deck promenade is complete as is Marine Court and the apron of St. Leonards Pier can be seen on the left.
St.Leonards from the air 114.
An immediate post-war image, notice the bomb site in the centre foreground, notice too the massive damage at the London Road / Norman Road crossroads on Sunday May 23rd 1943 when buildings on all four corners of the crossroads fell victim to the Luftwaffe. The Warrior Gate pub was destroyed but after the war the licence and name moved into the former Gas Showroom site on the next corner up where it has evolved into the ‘St.Leonard’ pub. The original site was redeveloped as the St.Leonards Post office and shrapnel damage can today be seen on the remains of the building destroyed on the next corner down.
St.Leonards-on-sea from an aeroplane.
This picture was taken in the early 1920’s before the buildings in the lower right corner were replaced with Marine Court in the late 1930’s. No’s 2 – 14 Marina, the buildings on the seaward side of the seafront were cleared by the end of the 1920’s. The end of the block was occupied by The Conqueror Hotel, licensed in 1830. According to J.M.Baines in his ‘Burton’s St Leonards’, in its day it must have been comfortable enough, for Robert Hollond, M.P., who repeatedly stayed there when in St. Leonards. He was a very wealthy man and seemed to prefer it to the St.Leonards Hotel (now the Royal Victoria). It was a fine square building, with a semi-circular apse on the east, and a pediment supported by four Ionic columns facing the sea. Notice that the promenade is still unwidened at this time and Warrior Square is yet to suffer from the ravages of the Luftwaffe.
Marine Court from the air, St.Leonards 116.
An immediate post-war view showing bomb damage to the eastern end of Marine Court, what can’t be seen is the empty site where the Star in the West pub, bombed in the same raid, (and now a car park) used to stand but the gaps in Warrior Square are very apparent.
Warrior Sq. St. Leonards on sea
A mid 1920’s atmospheric view showing an undamaged Warrior Square with, on the left, a tramcar plying along the seafront – replacement of the tramways in Hastings with trolleybuses was to start in 1928. The promenade has not yet been widened and is still ‘single deck’ and the wide steps onto the beach in front of the square are yet to be built.
Aerial View, Warrior Square, Hastings.
By the mid 1930’s the promenade work had been completed, the steps to the beach are in place and the western portal of Bottle Alley can be seen lower right, behind the crowd of bathing tents. One of Hastings’ unique open top double-deck trolleybuses can be seen under the wires in the middle of the picture. One of the batch of only eight of these unique vehicles, all of which were built for and ran in Hastings still survives and is known locally and in vintage vehicle circles as ‘Happy Harold’
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