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This article first appeared in the Hastings & St Leonards Observer 10th July 2015  Hastings & St Leonards Observer

Pictures of Hastings and St Leonards and Neighbourhood

Printed and Published by LEWIS HEPWORTH & CO LTD., Tunbridge: Wells and London.

This publication, of 48 pages within a card cover measured 280mm x 215mm  (11in x 8.5in) and was undated as most were at that time, but appears to have been published in 1900 at a time when Hastings and St.Leonards were still expanding - the 1891 census indicates 58,546 inhabitants and this was to grow to 60,264 by1901. With its fine large houses, pleasing climate and easy reach of London by three separate railways it was what we would call today a destination of choice for the wealthier classes and it was inevitable that out-of-town publishers would leap in to try to cash in on the Guide Book bonanaza around the turn of the century before it was washed away by the flood of post-card publishers in the first decade of the 20th century but who were Lewis Hepworth & Co Ltd? Lewis Hepworth was born in Yorkshire in 1852 and the 1881 census finds him living in Frant, Sussex where his occupation is described as “printer stationer and bookbinder” In 1878 Lewis had acquired the firm of Stidolph & Bellamy in Tunbridge Wells who had started business as printers in the 1860s and in 1890 they were to move into larger, brand new premises, which Lewis himself had designed, at 10 Vale Road Tunbridge Wells. At the new works, with his staff of forty, the company produced some of the best lithographic art and colour printing in the country at that time and the business was to continue as a family concern until its ultimate demise in 1968 when offset-litho replaced letterpress as the method of producing commercial printing. We are told that Lewis’s photo books of towns manufactured to his own designs were in constant demand in London and elsewhere. The majority of the photographs in the Hastings edition were by “Graham & Co” and “H Borton” neither of whom appear to have been based in Hastings or St.Leonards. There are captions below all the photographs which include the sort of local views that were popular at the time but business premises are also featured, not just local ones - hotels in Tunbridge Wells, Yarmouth and Norwich were featured as well as Chatham House College in Ramsgate and our own Highbury House School in Bohemia Road that has appeared in other contemporary local guides. As would be expected, places of interest in the surrounding area, such as Ashburnham, Battle, Rye, Winchelsea and even Hawkhurst were included.

Captions, paraphrased from the original captions


Pictures of Hastings and St Leonards and Neighbourhood Pictures of Hastings and St Leonards and Neighbourhood

“A particularly busy centre in the summer season. The large pleasure yachts start from the stade at this point, where also smaller boats of every description are to be obtained. The boatmen, as a general rule, are a very civil body, although they may at times be persistent in declaring that the atmospheric conditions render the day perfect for a trip on the briny they cheerfully accept a refusal. This is a favourite rendezvous for summer excursionists, many of whom spend a whole summer's day on the beach in the locality. In the height of the summer season there~ is perhaps more bustle and life in Denmark Place and in the open space adjoining the Queen's Hotel than at any other spot in the Borough.” The area is now covered with Sidney Little’s underground car park and underpass.

Pictures of Hastings and St Leonards and Neighbourhood Pictures of Hastings and St Leonards and Neighbourhood

Chas Frowd’s Dairy would  have been on the corner of Westen Road and Terrace Road, the site is now occupied by Southern Water

Hallett & Son, a good example of a Victorian Jeweller’s shop in Robertson Street

Pictures of Hastings and St Leonards and Neighbourhood Pictures of Hastings and St Leonards and Neighbourhood

“The` Hastings and St. Leonards and East Sussex Hospital occupies one of the best of positions on the front line, being exactly opposite the Hastings Pier. The Hospital, which was rebuilt in 1887, was founded in 1836: and is entirely maintained by voluntary subscriptions. The building is of red brick with white stone facings, and is built on the circular plan, and was one of the first circular hospitals erected in the country.” The hospital was rebuilt as the Royal East Sussex in Cambridge Road, later replaced with the Conquest Hospital on The Ridge and the site redeveloped as the White Rock pavilion, later White Rock Theatre.

“ANCIENT Hastings is being gradually ‘improved’ by the introduction of modern buildings, and a new street is contemplated through its midst, creation of which will remove some interesting architectural features. There are many old houses or the Elizabethan and other styles with pretty black and white projecting upper stories, and curious and wonderfully formed red-tiled roofs. In the two chief streets houses are to be seen built on high pavements.” It would be 60 years before the The Bourne cut the Old Town in two.

Pictures of Hastings and St Leonards and Neighbourhood Pictures of Hastings and St Leonards and Neighbourhood

“THIS view represents a recent particularly high tide at St. Leonards, when considerable damage was done to the western pier. In our picture one of the toll houses is being torn to pieces by the dashing of the waves which rose majestically, after striking the under parade, to the height of the Marina houses. It is hoped by groyning operations, which have since been carried out, that the recurrence of damage to the Pier has been obviated.” St Leonards Pier was to be seriously damaged in the last war and, considered beyond repair, was totally dismantled in the early 1950’s

W Skillings, further up Robertson Street

Pictures of Hastings and St Leonards and Neighbourhood Pictures of Hastings and St Leonards and Neighbourhood

White & Norton – their ad was on the back cover. The shop had previously been Rock & Co’s Carriage Works with its carriage lift up the cliff face to their mews at prospect place. The upper part of the building is still identifiable today but has been painted white.



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


“WHITE ROCK PLACE, opposite the Baths promenade, is partly made up of private houses (at the west end running up to the Hospital) and of business premises from No. 28 to the eastward .at the junction with Robertson Street. This is naturally a very busy thoroughfare, and especially so upon the mornings of the many days of winter sunshine of which Hastings can boast. Our picture shows the inside portion of the Baths Promenade with the Bandstand in the centre, and some of the numerous rows of seats where hundreds of people sit daily in fine weather and listen to the sweet music discoursed by Mr. E. Stuteley's Band.” The Palace Hotel, the most prominent building, has clearly not made a financial contribution to the publication and it has not been mentioned, the name ‘Palace Hotel’ that would have been emblazoned on its huge chimney stack has been crudely scratched from the negative!

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