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Historic Hastings
This article first appeared in the Hastings & St Leonards Observer 22nd May 2015  Hastings & St Leonards Observer

Apel’s Penny View Book

But who was Apel? – Early records show that by the early 1880’s H Apel was operating The Central Library at 55 Robertson Street as a bookseller, stationer, newsagent, bookbinder & printer and that in the early years of the 20th century he had expanded into number 54 next door under the Public Hall. The premises may well have backed on to those occupied some 20 years earlier in Havelock Road by the young FJ Parsons and his printing press, Was Apel using the same press perhaps? By 1916 Apel had a telephone (No 264) and the public hall above the premises had become the Public Hall Cinema, later the ‘Plaza’ then ‘Orion’. By 1939 the shop had become part of WH Smith which was to absorb the cinema before the whole lot changed hands and became Yates Wine Lodge.

Apel’s Penny View Book was printed on semigloss paper in a booklet with a paper cover equating to the modern A5 size and the 20 views, including some of Battle, Rye and Camber. It was printed conventionally with the images back-to-back and retailed for one old penny (1d), that is you could have bought 244 of them for £1! There is no text and the printing blocks are identical to some of those used by Mates in his 1901 guide which was a hard cover A4 publication with a lot of text.

The photographs are by Perkins, Son & Venimore of Lewisham who were active 1893 – 1902, George Bradshaw who had acquired Constantine Jennings' photographic studio in the Memorial Art Gallery on the corner opposite about 1886 and worked there until 1902. No record of the photographer Beagley can be found.

Apel’s Penny View Book


Apel’s Penny View Book

Carlisle Parade. The view is recognisable today and sea wall is still in existence at the back of Sidney Little’s underground car park which now covers the area then occupied by the bathing machines

Apel’s Penny View Book

Hastings beach and yachts. Opposite Harold place these boats operated short trips from the beach for the general public. There’s some sort of beach entertainment going on in the foreground.


Apel’s Penny View Book
Old St Helens ruins at Ore. The church had been replaced in the 1860s by the current St Helens on the Ridge. Much of the stone of the old church was incorporated in the new church which left the old one as a picturesque ruin to lie neglected for over 100 years until it was conserved and opened to the public last year.

Apel’s Penny View Book
St Leonards: the Archery Gardens. Notice the target and that the game of tennis is in progress. The site was desecrated in the 1960s by the building of the college which is now being demolished.

Apel’s Penny View Book

The beach and pier. The pier was still very much a promenade pier with the Pavilion at the end.

Apel’s Penny View Book Apel’s Penny View Book
Apel’s Penny View Book

Above left The cricket ground. With a match in progress - The buildings on South Terrace are little changed today. The quality of the picture does not help us decide whether parts of the ground are covered in snow, have flooded or have just lost grass.

Above The Marina. Crown House, Queen Victoria’s former home on the left, St Leonards pier on the right and the Royal Victoria library opposite the hotel.

Left The pier. Advertising the Mohawk Minstrels who were appearing at the pier pavilion. They were some type of Black and White minstrel show. The pier was later widened but even now pier builder Eugenius Birch’s original angled piles can still be seen running down the centre of the current pier. The little balconies halfway down the pier coincide with the low water mark shown on the ordnance survey maps of the time.

High quality prints of these images can be obtained from Ion - use email address below
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