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Key events 1850 - 1899

771 - 1699 | 1700 - 1799 | 1800 - 1849 | 1850 - 1899 | 1900 - 1949 | 1950 - 1979 | 1980 onwards

1850 - Throughout this year extensive work was being carried out on building the Hastings railway lines. On the western line, the two tunnels through St Leonards were being finished, while in the east the embankment was being laid across the Priory Valley and two tunnels through Ore were being dug.

1850 Jan 3 - An eagle was shot under the cliffs near Pett Level. It had a wingspan of 6½ feet.

1850 Feb - An 11-day official public inquiry under the 1848 Public Health Act found that 795 of the 2,209 houses in Hastings were in “the worst condition as to private drainage” and that a good sewage system was urgently needed. Hastings Council implemented the recommendations over the following years; St Leonards Council managed to evade the responsibility (and expense), but eventually this was one of the main reasons why it had to merge with Hastings in 1872.

1850 April 19 - The Hastings News carried the first Hastings newspaper advert from a photographer: “Portraits taken in a few seconds.”

1850 May 5 - St Clements Church re-opened after its renovation.

1850 June 24 - The construction of the Robertson Street and Carlisle Parade area began with the laying of the first foundation stone, in ‘Waldegrave Place’.

1850-51 - Fairlight Hall was built, off Martineau Lane, by William Drew Lucas-Shadwell (1816-75). He was the nephew of William Lucas-Shadwell (1766?-1844), the solicitor and property conveyancer, who left Drew his estate of thousands of acres between Fairlight and Rye Harbour. The Milwards and Lucas-Shadwells jointly through much of the 19th century gave much help to local charities and carried out local improvements, including the upgrading of Old London Road from the High Street to Mount Road in 1815.

1851 - Pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt painted his greatest landscape, Our English Coasts, later known as Strayed Sheep, looking west across Fairlight Glen from Lovers Seat.

1851 Feb 13 - The Bopeep-Hastings-Ashford railway line was officially declared open, after two years construction, bringing trains into the town from Brighton.

1851 March 31 - The Duke of Brunswick, on the run for committing perjury in a libel case, flew by balloon to France from a field by the gasworks (where Morrisons is today).

1851 May - Work started on the new six million gallon Ecclesbourne reservoir on three acres of land leased from the Countess Waldegrave; it was completed in March 1853. A 470-yard long six-inch pipeline connected it with the two Clive Vale reservoirs. It became known as the Spoon. In 1921-4 the council raised the height of the reservoir’s dam, doubling its capacity.

1851 Oct - The old lighthouse (the Upper Light) in Hill Street was replaced by a new lighthouse on the West Hill close to the Caves entrance (still in use today). The Lower Light built in 1827 still stands opposite the boating lake, next to Simply Italian, although it is not used now.

1851 Dec - The first-ever large-scale maps of all of Hastings were completed by the borough surveyor, William Gant, in order to implement the public health improvements.

1852 Jan 31 - The Tunbridge Wells-Bopeep railway line was opened, giving Hastings a more direct connection with London.

1852 Feb 11 - Hastings and St Leonards Rifle Corps was formed.

1852 Sept 14 - The new St Mary Magdalen Church was consecrated. Its foundation stone was laid in June 1851.

1852 Sept 29 - HM Customs surrendered the lease of their condemned yard (for the boats of smugglers etc) under the East Cliff, the site of what are now the Fishermen’s Museum and Shipwreck Heritage Centre.

1853 Jan - The last stocks for punishing minor offenders were removed from their site next to the Kings Head pub (in the middle of today’s road The Bourne).

1853 Easter - The new All Saints National School for Girls opened. Countess Waldegrave was the principal donor.

1853 May - Hastings Council bought the Old Warm Baths opposite Pelham Crescent for road widening. It also decided to turn the track called Tackleway into a proper road by building a retaining wall on one side and pavement on the other. This opened up Tackleway for development.

1853 Aug - Large scale development was reported taking place on 400 acres of the old Eversfield Estate around the existing central St Leonards and Burton’s St Leonards. Road, terraces, villas and gardens were being laid out.

1853 Dec 27 - A homeopathic dispensary opened at 8 High Street.

1854 March 26 - The first service was held at the new Fishermen's Church in Rock-a-Nore Road (it became the Fishermen's Museum in 1956).

1854 Aug 1 - The town's post office moved from 4 George Street to 2 Wellington Place (where the former Woolworth’s store is today) to improve its coverage of the new town centre and St Leonards.

1854 Dec 4 - The National School for Boys opened in Tackleway.

1855 Feb - The sea froze, out to a hundred yards offshore.

1855 Feb 12 - The newly-formed Hastings Mendicity Society opened its lodging house, in Bourne Passage, off Bourne Walk, Old Town. It consisted of two small adjoining cottages knocked into one, with beds for ten men and five women crammed into small rooms. The society aimed to clear the streets of the great number of beggars that had been a source of annoyance, and to give a respectable night's lodging and food to really deserving persons. It received some support from Hastings Council because it was saving ratepayers’ money by keeping down the number of people using the workhouse. The society was set up following a meeting in Dr WA Greenhill’s house on December 22 1854. IN the next 50 years it helped 90,000 people.

1855 Dec 16 - Consecration of the new Ore Cemetery, on Winchelsea Road, on an acre and a half of land donated by the Countess Waldegrave. It was the burial place for the workhouse dead. It closed in 1909.

1856 March 10 - The gaoler in the Courthouse Street gaol, James Welland, was murdered by an escaping prisoner, who was later caught and then executed in front of the new Lewes Prison on August 5 1856. Hastings gaol closed soon after this, and was used only as a lock-up. The stocks outside the gaol were removed at this time; they were last used in 1848.

1856 May - Land on the top of the West Hill, by Priory Road, was bought from Sarah Countess Waldegrave by Hastings Council for £262 as the site for a water reservoir and waterworks.

1856 Sept - The first stone of the big new town drainage system was laid at Rock-a-Nore.

1856 Oct 6 - Opening of the new St Mary Magdalen School, Magdalen Road. There was much development of the Magdalen Road area at this time.

1856 Dec 2 - The first burial took place at the new Hastings Cemetery, at St Helens (now the town’s only cemetery). The deceased was well-known local builder John ‘Yorky’ Smith.

1857 May 17 - Famous author Charles Kingsley preached a sermon in the Fishermen’s Church, Rock-a-Nore Road.

1857 June 24 - Opening of the new Congregational Church in Robertson Street. It was enlarged in 1864.

1857 June 26 - The Hastings Old Bank, the first Hastings bank, went bust. It started in 1791.

1857 Oct 5 - Four men were drowned when a small collier was wrecked at Rock-a-Nore, in front of a large crowd of helpless witnesses. This prompted the setting up of a local branch of the RNLI and the acquisition of the first Hastings RNLI lifeboat, the Victoria (its unsuccessful predecessor, the Ariel, had not been owned by the RNLI).

1858 - Founding of the Hastings and St Leonards Philosophical Society.

1858 April 5 - The Hastings RNLI’s first lifeboat, the Victoria, was delivered by train from London and was launched from Harold Place. The first Lifeboat House was at Rock-a-Nore, where the aquarium is today.

1858 Sept 29 - Opening of the Holy Trinity Church, Robertson Street/Trinity Street. The chancel was completed 1862.

1858 Nov - A Mr Jeremiah Skinner took a 99-year lease on a large plot of land on the east side of Western Road, where he built stables and coach houses. By the end of the century this was a motor business as well, and soon became a well-known car dealer - Skinners.

1859 - Storms seriously damaged the Coastguard station standing on a plateau just above the beach, a few yards east of Ecclesbourne Glen stream. By 1864 a new station had been built on the clifftop on the west side of the glen. The station closed in
1908-09, but remained in use by non-Coastguards until it was demolished in 1963 because of undermining by cliff-falls.
1859 Jan - An important new map of the town was drawn by borough surveyor John Laing. At 12 inches to the mile (1:5280), it was the first large scale map to cover all of Hastings and St Leonards.

1859 Jan 12 - Opening of the big new Music Hall, fronting Robertson Street and backing on to Havelock Road. It was on the first floor, above shops and pubs. Later it was called the Public Hall and eventually it became the Orion Cinema. The pub Yates now occupies the ground floor.

1859 May 5 - The First Company of the Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers was set up. It ran for many years, with ranges in Ecclesbourne Glen. A Volunteer Artillery Corps was set up soon after, with a battery near the cliff edge in Warren Glen.

1859 Sept 9 - IK Brunel’s huge steamship Great Eastern suffered an accident off Hastings in her trial voyage, when a funnel exploded, killing six people.

1859 Oct 15 - The largest vessel built at Hastings since at least Napoleonic times was launched. This was the three-masted 220-ton sailing yacht New Moon, measuring 129 feet on the keel and 140 feet overall. She was built by local boatbuilder George Tutt in his yard at Rock-a-Nore for Lord Willoughby D’Eresby.

1860 - Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rosetti married his main model Elizabeth Siddall at St Clements Church.

1860 June - Ten Hastings fishermen were lost at sea in a severe gale.

1860 Sept 9 - The foundation stone of the new St Matthew’s Church, London Road, Silverhill, was laid.

1861 May 17 - Launch of the St Leonards Temperance Institute.

1861 June - A drill hall was created in Middle Street for the Volunteer Artillery Corps and the Volunteer Rifle Corps.

1861 June 28 - On one of the wettest days ever, 2.18 inches of rain fell on Hastings, causing flooding.

1861 July 3 - The Hastings Fire Brigade was set up following a public meeting in the town hall, because of criticism of the Council’s semi-voluntary service. It is believed to have been the first volunteer brigade in the country (the Hastings meeting started just 30 minutes ahead of a similar one in Coventry!). The brigade had three sections, of 13 men each. It was founded by William Glenister, who was the captain until 1889.

1861 July 26 - The Hastings Rock Fair, the town’s longest-running celebration, held on July 26 annually for possibly centuries, took place for probably the last time. Better-off people do not like its common air and had been trying to quash it for many years.

1862 - The town’s biggest hotel, the Queens, opened.

1862 March 9 - The Hastings fishing lugger Crystal Palace sank in a gale off Plymouth and eight lives were lost.

1862 May 31 - The Clive Vale Farm (60 acres) was sold for £7,900, opening the way for the development of the Clive Vale suburb. Until this point there had been only a handful of buildings in all of what is now Clive Vale.

1862 Nov 10 - The mayor laid the foundation stone of the Albert Memorial clocktower. It was in the town centre, replacing the lamp standard on the site of the old Priory Bridge. The Memorial was demolished by the Council in 1973 after a small fire. Many people believe this demolition was unnecessary, and that the Council was simply looking for a reason to remove it.

1863 - Work started erecting St Andrews Square and the streets around it, including South Terrace, following the sale of the Great Brook Estate.

c1863 - The old gaol in Courthouse Street was demolished and replaced by a police station.

1863 June 2 - Forty acres of the Vine Farm Estate, Ore, were sold in 153 development lots sited in the valley between Mount Road and the Ridge (Frederick Road, Clifton Road area).

1863 Aug 7 - The five-year old Hastings lifeboat Victoria was replaced by a new boat, also initially called Victoria. She was renamed as Ellen Goodman in 1867, in memory of a Midlands woman, with no connection with Hastings, who left £500 to the RNLI.

1863 Aug 7 - The Hastings News reported on the “rage for building in the Borough” which was quickly eating away the green of the town. The newspaper said there needed to be preservation as well as prosperity. Many building plots were sold at Clive Vale and Hollington in the following weeks.

1863 Oct 29 - Opening of the new Ragged School in Tackleway. The Boys British School in Bourne Walk opened in July 1863 renamed the Bourne Walk Board School from 1874, after being taken over by the new Hastings School Board).

1863 Nov 30 - The School of Art and Design opened, in Robertson Street.

1863 Dec - The 65-feet high Albert Memorial clocktower was finished, but it lacked a clock, which was installed in mid-1864.

c1864 - Warrior Square was completed.

1864 Feb 23 - The large, newly-built Hurst Court College on the Ridge, at the junction with Chowns Hill, was formally opened.

1864 June - Hastings Council took over a large private garden and opened it to the public as St Andrews Gardens (being the southern end of the park which was opened as Alexandra Park in 1882).

1864 July 20 - The new Central Cricket Ground was officially opened on the levelled and drained Priory marshes (now Priory Meadow shopping centre). It replaced the cricket ground on the East Hill as the town’s main cricket pitch. Initially the new ground was leased from the Cornwallis family, but in August 1872 was bought from them for £5,000. It was conveyed to the ground’s trustees on condition that it remained a recreation ground, and that it was open to the public free of charge on one day each week.

1865 - The Friends Meeting House, South Terrace, was built.

1865 June 8 - The new Bourne wash-houses and baths in Winding Street were opened by the Countess Waldegrave.

1865 Aug 21 - The foundation stone of St Thomas’s Catholic Church in Magdalen Road was laid, and it opened on May 24 1866. But it was burnt down on January 3 1887; its replacement church opened on July 10 1889.

1865 Aug 29 - A large section of the north end of the Priory Valley was sold for development, comprising 78 plots between Stonefield Place and the railway bridge. By
1873 Queens Road had been built there, with houses on both sides, plus on the west side of Stonefield Road.

1866 April 12 - The foundation stone of St Pauls Church, Church Road, was laid; it opened August 27 1868.

1866 April 20 - Hollington Old Church re-opened after being restored by Miss Dampier in memory of her mother.

1866 May 24 - The St Leonards Green turnpike toll gate and cottage, Sedlescombe Road, were burnt down.

1866 May 25 - The Hastings News reported on the large amount of building work taking place near the town centre. Areas included Blacklands, Mount Pleasant, Quarry Road and St Andrews Square.

1866 June 14 - The memorial stone was laid for a new Wesleyan Chapel to be built on the corner of Clifton Road and the Ridge.

1866 Autumn - The Board of Customs closed its Customs House because Hastings was no longer considered to be a trading port. Hastings had probably had a Customs House for over a century. The last such building was owned by Hastings Council and stood in East Parade, opposite today’s Simply Italian restaurant. It was washed away by a gale in August 1881 and a new lifeboat house was built on its site in 1882.

1866 Oct 12 - Work started on building the new sewage and drainage system through the town, and with its main works at Rock-a-Nore, costing £25,640. They were completed in June 1868, marking a major improvement in the town. Until then sewage had been pumped onto several parts of the beach in front of the town. The new system had a major sewage pipe running from the bottom of London Road along the seafront to Rock-a-Nore and then out in a three-quarter mile long pipe, ending at low water mark off Ecclesbourne Glen. All other sewers drained into this main pipe.

1867 Oct - 149 acres of the St Helens Estate were sold, opening up much of the area between the Ridge and Blacklands for development.

1867 Oct 8 - The workhouse board of guardians receive a letter, dated this day, from the Poor Law Board in Whitehall saying there are “serious defects” in the workhouse, especially its low quality accommodation for the sick. Over the following months the board has a new infirmary built.

1867 Dec 26 - The Hare and Hounds pub in Ore and its small theatre annexe were burnt down. The annexe had been there for over a century.

1868 April 29 - The new St Johns Church, Hollington, was consecrated.

1868 May 6 - Opening of the new Unitarian Chapel, South Terrace.

1868 June 1 - The new borough council offices on the corner of Middle Street and Bank Buildings were opened (the building is still there).

1868 Late June - The first Australian cricket team to come to England played one of its matches at the Central Cricket Ground. But this was a team of Aborigines, not whites, and the three-day match finished early so that they could give a public demonstration of their native skills (including boomerangs).

1868 Sept 15 - The Eagle Brewery in Courthouse Street burned down.

1868 Nov - The new British Schools opened in St Leonards, at the junction of London Road and Kings Road.

1869 April 21 - The Fairlight windmill, a famous landmark visible for many miles around, was burnt to the ground. It was never replaced, and North’s Seat, in memory of Frederick North, was erected in April 1870 on its site at Fairlight Down.

1869 May 28 - A meeting of prominent local business people in the Castle Hotel decided to build a pier, at White Rock.

1869 June 6 - Ore Church, the town’s oldest church, at St Helens, held its last service. Work started that month building the new St Helens Church nearby on the Ridge.

1869 June 29 - The main post office moved from 2 Wellington Place to 1 Queens Road, where the Halifax Building Society is today. It moved to Cambridge Road in 1930.

1869 Oct 29 - Death of Frederick North, the highly respected Liberal MP, whose home had been Hastings Lodge in Old London Road. His daughter Marianne became the world-famous botanic artist. The by-election on November 17 was the last election in Hastings to be held with open-air hustings, at the Central Cricket Ground, prior to the 1872 Ballot Act bringing in polling booths. In April 1870, North’s Seat (a seat for 12 people) was erected in his memory on the site of the burnt-down Fairlight Windmill.

1869 Dec 16 - The ‘temporary’ iron church in St Andrews Square opened.

1869 Dec 18 - Work started on building the Hastings Pier. The first pile was driven into the seabed at 3am. In July 1871, when the piles were being driven at its seaward end, they struck many old trees. The pier opened in August 1872.

1870 June 6 - Eight people were drowned when the pleasure yacht Royal Albert capsized in a squall off the Old Town on Whit Monday.

1870 Nov 1 - All Saints Church re-opened after a 14-month restoration project.

1870 Nov 7 - An octagonal retail fishmarket opened at the bottom of the High Street, removing all the fish stalls from the beach. It was demolished in 1928 and replaced by a turning circle for the new trolleybuses (it is now a car park).

1870 Nov 30 - The new St Andrews Church, Queens Road, was consecrated 12 months after the foundation stone was laid. Ten years before there was not a single building in its parish, including Blacklands; by 1870 there were probably 250. The church was later replaced by Morrisons’ petrol station.

1870 Dec 8 - Death of Thomas Brassey, the famous railway engineer. He was the father of Hastings Liberal MP Thomas Brassey who lived at Normanhurst and who did much for the town.

1871 Feb - The first Hastings School Board was elected under new legislation covering the management of local schools. George Scrivens was chairman.

1872 - The towns of Hastings and St Leonards merged, with the management of St Leonards, hitherto in the hands of commissioners, being transferred to Hastings Corporation, because it could no longer afford to look after itself.

1872 April - Martello Tower No 38, at Cliff End, the nearest to the east of Hastings, was blown up (plus nearby No 35; No 36 was blown up in May 1870).

1872 July 3 - Gensing Gardens, between London Road and Church Road, which were owned by the Council, were officially opened.

1872 Aug 5 - Hastings Pier was officially opened in a big ceremony, on Bank Holiday Monday, the first-ever statutory bank holiday. It rained hard all day. The 900 feet long pier (a promenade with a large pavilion on the end) attracted 482,000 people in its first year.

1872 Aug 7 - The Central Cricket and Recreation Ground was officially founded by the signing of a deed whereby the Cornwallis Estate sold for £5,000 to the cricket trustees the 6¼ acres they had been renting since 1864.

1873 March - The first block of buildings in the borough to be made from concrete was inaugurated. Scrivens Buildings, in Crown Lane, with 30 flats, had been built for poorer people in the Old Town by the Hastings Cottage Improvement Society.

1873 April 18 - Death of Sarah, Countess of Waldegrave, in her 87th year, one of the most generous of the town’s benefactors. She had inherited the large Milward family estate, then covering over 2,300 acres, mostly to east and north-east of the town. As she had no children, the estate passed first to Edward Henry Sayer-Milward (1835-90), a grandson of Sarah Collier, who was a sister of the wife of Edward Milward Snr, and then to the Rev William Sayer-Milward (1837-1913).

1873 Summer - The first school to be built by the new Hastings School Board was completed. It was the elementary school for the Old Town, in Waterloo Place and Bourne Walk, initially for infants and girls.

1873 Sept - The last two of the three West Hill windmills, plus the steam mill, were soon to be demolished, making way for Alpine Road and Gordon Road, it was announced. One was sold in March 1874 and soon taken down. The second was sold in October 1874 and demolished on November 28 that year.

1873 Oct 2 - Founding of the Athenaeum debating society.

1873 Dec - Martello Tower No 40, just to the west of the Bathing Pool site, was blown up by the Royal Engineers, as the sea was undermining it.

1874 July - The new University School (private) opened in Holmesdale Gardens. It was a large building, with a tower. In 1932 it was bought and demolished by the Royal East Sussex Hospital, which opened a nurses’ home on its site in July 1934 (now demolished). Its site is now the entrance to Redmayne Drive.

1874 Sept 22 - Consecration of the new Emmanuel Church, Priory Road/Vicarage Road.

1875 - Opening of the new Holy Trinity School, in Braybrooke Terrace (now Howes Bookshop).

c1875 - St Clements Church was restored.

1875 May 13 - Opening of the new Christ Church, London Road/Silchester Road. The tower and spire were added in 1894.

1875 May 25 - The memorial stone for the new Central Wesleyan Church was laid, on the corner of Cambridge Road and Cornwallis Gardens (now replaced by flats). It opened on July 14 1876.

1875 Sept 29 - From this day, all St Leonards merged with Hastings. In 1832 a local act of parliament had given legal powers to local commissioners to manage the new town of St Leonards, then being built by James Burton on his own land. But this authority did not cover the much larger township of St Leonards that soon developed all around Burton’s St Leonards, and which came under the control of Hastings Council. This created a confusing and financially complex situation, highlighted by the 1872 Public Health Act, which prompted the 1875 Local Government Board’s Provisional Orders Confirmation Act. This dissolved the 1832 act and brought Burton’s St Leonards into the Borough of Hastings.

1875 Nov 1 - The turnpike road system came to an end; there had been 12 'pay gates' in and around the town.

1875 Nov 14 - One of the worst-ever storms battered the seafront and flooded much of the town. It was the worst disaster in living memory at that time. Many shops, businesses and lodging houses were severely damaged by the sea. There was another heavy gale and high tide causing great damage on March 12 1876, with George Street and Queens Road flooded.

1876 June 4 - The last service was held in the wooden Croft Chapel, Croft Road, built in 1820. The new Croft Church on the same site opened May 1 1877.

1876 June 28 - The foundation stone of the White Rock Baths was laid by Thomas Brassey.

1876 July 7 - Martello Tower No 39 at the west end of Grosvenor Gardens (the one built nearest to the west of Hastings) was demolished after being damaged by the sea in gales.

1876 July 28 - The steam-powered Buckshole water pumping station was opened, in the extended St Andrews Gardens (that became Alexandra Park in 1882).

1877 - Construction took place of Old Humphrey Avenue, on the site of Hastings House, in the Old Town.

1877 Jan 1 - The highest tide on record and a gale caused the worst damage on record, partly washing away the parade and some of the pier. George Street and Queens Road were flooded. One man was killed and others were seriously injured.

1877 March 20 - The memorial stone of the new Congregational School in Priory Street was laid (demolished 2008).

1877 May 1 - Opening of the new Croft Church, in Croft Road. It was demolished in 1972 and replaced by flats.

1877 June 17 - The new St Helens Church, replacing the old Ore Church, held its first service.

1877 Oct 20 - Launch of the Hastings Times newspaper by wealthy Liberal businessman Halley Stewart.

1877-8 - The Brassey Institute (now the public library) and the Observer printworks were built in Claremont. Thomas Brassey opened a free public library in the Institute in 1881, and donated ownership of the whole building to Hastings Council in 1887.

C1878 - Blacklands Church and Christ Church, Ore, were built.

1878 Jan 7 - The Hastings Omnibus Company was set up, probably the first significant public transport business in the town. It had two London-type horse buses, and started running a service along the seafront on April 9.

1878 March 26 - The Charity Commissioners agreed that a Hastings Grammar School could be set up, by merging the Parker and Saunders charities and by giving £6,000 funding from the Magdalen charity. It moved into its first premises, Bleak House, John Banks’ schoolroom (still standing) at the southern end of Stonefield Road, on May 2 1880.

1878 May 28 - The first part of the new White Rock Baths was opened. It was a 180'x40' men’s pool, said to be the largest swimming pool in the world. The women’s pool opened on July 14 1879, private baths and other facilities opened on August 16 1880.and the Turkish Baths on April 30 1882.

1878 June 12 - Opening of the new West Marina esplanade, in front of what were to be Grosvenor Gardens.

1878 Nov 24 - St Johns Church, Maze Hill, was destroyed by fire; it was rebuilt.

1879 Jan 13 - The new Silverhill School, in Strood Road, was opened.

1879 April - A new drinking fountain was installed at the top of High Street and All Saints Street, set in a large and expensive new wall connecting the two streets.

1879 April 15 - The new Mount Pleasant Church, on the corner of Hughenden Place, was opened (it has been replaced by flats).

1879 July 14 - The 90'x40' ladies pool at the new White Rock Baths was opened, 14 months after the men’s.

1879 Oct 13 - Opening of the large Royal Concert Hall, Warrior Gardens, which immediately became the leading centre of entertainment and social functions in St Leonards. It was burnt down on June 23 1947.

1879 Nov 11 - A well-known local sailing ship, the brig Pelican, was seriously damaged after unloading coal on the beach in front of the Old Town, and ceased trade. She was built in 1838 at the Thwaites and Winter shipyard in front of Pelham Crescent.

1880 April 17 - The former privately-owned St Leonards Subscription Gardens (behind the Royal Victoria Hotel) were formally re-opened as the public St Leonards Gardens, following their recent purchase by Hastings Corporation.

1880 May 2 - Hastings Grammar School opened, in temporary premises at Bleak House, Stonefield Road.

1880 Oct 13 - The Hughenden Hall opened at 97 All Saints Street. This was an alcohol-free public hall, meeting place and soup kitchen, built by wealthy local builder Henry Chapman for the poor people of the Old Town. But it was little used, and in December 1882 it was converted into the Fishermen’s Institute. Today is the Fishermen’s Club.

1880 Dec 31 - The new Hastings lifeboat, the Charles Arkcoll, arrived, replacing the Ellen Goodman. She was named after a local benefactor, who left £2,000 for a new Hastings lifeboat and for facilities, including a lifeboat house, which was built in 1882.

1881 Jan 15 - A free reference library opened in the Brassey Institute. It was a gift to the town from Thomas Brassey.

1881 April 11 - A small house in Southwater Road was opened as the Buchanan Cottage Hospital. It was replaced by the much bigger Buchanan Ophthalmic and Cottage Hospital in Springfield Road on March 27 1883.

1881 May 23 - The first part of the new Mount Pleasant School opened, on the corner of Mount Pleasant Road and Manor Road. This was for infants. Two new blocks for older children opened on January 15 1883.

1881 Sept 7 - The new town hall in Queens Road was officially opened, having moved from the High Street.

1881 Dec 18 - Hurricane-force winds drove the German barque Sacitta onto the rocks near the Haddocks Coastguard Station, Fairlight Cove, killing five men. She was carrying a large mixed cargo, which was washed up all along the coast between Fairlight and Rye Harbour, and was then taken away by many parties of local people. The cargo included much alcohol which Hastings Old Towners removed and consumed, often in dangerous amounts. Two of them died as a result.

1882 Jan 31 - A group of prominent local businessmen and councillors met to discuss setting up a local electric light company, given the recent emergence of electricity as a rival power supply to gas. Many of these people were also shareholders in the local gas company, but the gas contract with Hastings Council was due to end in 12 months time. They agreed to hedge their bets, and so set up the Hastings and St Leonards Electric Light Company. In August 1882 the council gave the go-ahead for a trial of some electric street lights, which on November 12 1883 were switched on.

1882 May - A serious gale destroyed two net shops and damaged several others because of Hastings Council’s refusal to build sea defences in front of the Old Town, part of their aim of forcing the fishing fleet to move to Rye. Storms in late August and on October 23 caused further severe damage, and this was repeated in 1883 and 1884, at which point the Council was forced to change tactics. A groyne was built 1885-7.

1882 May 10 - Hastings Station stables were burnt, killing many horses.

1882 June 2 - Death aged 74 of teacher John Banks, who for many years ran the school that became Hastings Grammar School in 1880.

1882 June 8 - The Marianne North Gallery of hundreds of natural history paintings opened at Kew Gardens, London. She painted the pictures all round the world, following her inheritance of the fortune of her father, Hastings MP Frederick North.

1882 June 26 - Alexandra Park was opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra). It then covered 77 acres. The area near the railway had opened as St Andrews Gardens in 1864.

1882 June 28 - Founding of the Hastings Chess Club.

1882 July 3 - Opening of the new Lifeboat House, opposite the Cutter pub, in a colourful ceremony. It was demolished in 1959.

1882 Aug 2 - The new Gaiety Theatre opened, with Mr D'Oyley Carte performing the opera HMS Pinafore. Today, the Gaiety is the Odeon Cinema.

1882 Oct 23 - Official opening of the new Queens Avenue arcade of 14 shops, between Queens Road and York Buildings. At that time, it was one of only two such arcades in Kent and East Sussex.

1882 Dec 19 - Opening of the Fishermen’s Institute, 97 All Saints Street.

1883 March 25 - The Salvation Army move into the iron church in St Andrews Square, sparking much controversy.

1883 April 11 - Opening of the new Baptist Church on the corner of Chapel Park Road and Ellenslea Road.

1883 May 31 - A new Omnibus Company was set up, following the recent winding up of the one started in 1878.

1883 July 4 - The new Grammar School, in Nelson Road, was opened by the mayor. There was considerable controversy, for it was aimed at middle class children, but the building had been paid for by the Magdalen Charity which was set up for the benefit of the poor in the parishes of All Saints and St Clements.

1883 July 6 - Opening of the first Roman Catholic church to be built in Hastings, the St Mary-Star-of-the-Sea, in High Street. Its foundation stone was laid on March 22 1882. It was largely the result of the initiative of poet Coventry Patmore, then resident at Old Hastings House, who provided £5,000 of the £15,000 total cost.

1883 Aug 4 - The foundation stone of St Peters Church, on Chapel Park Road near Bohemia Road, was laid.

1883 Oct - A bandstand was put up on the seafront, by the White Rock Baths.

1883 Oct 11 - The major new waterworks at Filsham came into operation.

1883 Nov 12 - The town’s first electric street lights were switched on. They were supplied by the Hastings and St Leonards Electric Light Company, formed in early 1882 by local businessmen, who had also built an electricity power station in Earl Street (which today is a carpet and furniture warehouse). The trial lights were along a small part of the seafront.

1883 Dec - The new Police Station and Fire Engine House in Bourne Street, next to the Kings Head pub, come into operation. The old gaol house had been demolished.

1883 Dec 17 - A Hastings branch of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage was formed, following a suffrage talk given on August 29 by the famous doctor (and Hastings resident) Elizabeth Blackwell.

1884 Jan 31 - The All Souls Parish Room in Athelstan Road opened. All Souls Church was built almost opposite, opening on July 16 1891.

1884 March 27 - The Buchanan Ophthalmic and Cottage Hospital in Springfield Road opened.

1884 May 8 - The first building plots in the Stonefield Estate, owned by the Sayer-Milwards, were sold, starting the development of the Milward Road area.

1885 March - The new bridge over the railway, connecting South Terrace to the new Priory Avenue, came into use, and opened up the Avenue area for development. It had been built by the Cornwallis Estate trustees, who handed it over to Hastings Council that September.

1885 July - The town’s first telephone exchange was set up in 12 Claremont (upstairs, at the back) by the South of England Telephone Company. In June 1894 the exchange moved to 52 Cambridge Road (now No 47).

1885 Oct 7 - The new Robertson Street United Reformed Church opened, replacing the one that had been on that site.

1885 Nov - The number of Hastings MPs was reduced from two to one from this general election onwards.

1886 - At about this time, the St Leonards Coastguard Station on the beach opposite the Bopeep pub was closed to make way for the new large terrace of Grosvenor Gardens. The Coastguard Cottages along Bexhill Road became the St Leonards Station, and remained so until 1904-5, when a new Station was built on the corner of Cinque Ports Way and Bexhill Road.

1886 Feb - The Hastings Mechanics Institute closed.

1886 March 1 - A big new steam laundry, on Bexhill Road near Bridge Way, came into use. The building still stands.

1886 Dec - The Palace Hotel opened. It was built on the site of the White Rock Brewery, built in 1831, and the Seaside Hotel.

1886 Dec 4 - The St Augustine’s Nursing Home in Upper Maze Hill opened. The Augustinian Sisters from Paris had bought Gensing Lodge from James Burton. The home quickly became very popular. It was given to the St Michael’s Hospice in 1986, which opened there in April 1987 as a combined hospice and nursing home.

1887 Jan - The Hastings Workhouse board of guardians bought 18 acres of land called the Pilot Field in Elphinstone Road on which to build a new workhouse, following criticisms by the Local Government Board of the existing one. But the project was strongly opposed by the influential middle class residents of the area, bringing it to a halt. More than four years arguing and preparatory work then took place until the idea was abandoned in October 1891. The whole scheme was denounced as a major scandal, as the guardians had spent £5,420 on the land and over £8,000 on related items, a total which could have improved the existing workhouse sufficiently. The board of guardians retained ownership of the Pilot Field until 1920, when Hastings Council took it over and it became the town’s football ground.

1887 Jan - The Hastings and St Leonards Co-operative Society was formed, but it went into liquidation in July 1901.

1887 Jan - The Clive Vale Congregational Church, on the corner of Edwin Road and Githa Road, was officially opened. A memorial stone was laid on May 25 1886. It is now replaced by flats, apart from the church hall.

1887 Jan 3 - St Thomas’s Catholic Church in Magdalen Road was destroyed by fire. Its foundation stone was laid on August 21 1865, and it opened on May 24 1866. The replacement church opened on July 10 1889.

1887 Aug 10 - An opening ceremony took place and a memorial stone was laid on the new giant groyne at Rock-a-Nore that has played a key role in sea defences since then. Construction started in June 1885 following a major public outcry over the sea damage caused to the fishing industry and Old Town by gales in the early 1880s. Hastings Council’s refusal to build groynes then was an attempt to force the fishing fleet to move to Rye, freeing their beach in Hastings for development.

1887 Sept - The first railway stations at Ore and West St Leonards were opened. West Marina Station, just to the west of the Bopeep pub, was rebuilt and made bigger in 1889.

1887 Oct 13 - The new East Sussex Hospital at White Rock was officially opened, on the site of the 1841 Infirmary (and of the White Rock Theatre that replaced it in 1927).

1888 - Under the 1888 Local Government Act, the 27,000 different boards which had running the many services outside towns were replaced by 62 elected county councils, including East Sussex. In addition, Hastings (with St Leonards) became a county borough, with the same powers as the county councils, which it was to retain until 1974. The 1894 Local Government (Parish Councils) Act subdivided the county councils into urban districts and rural districts, each with an elected council. Rural districts were further divided so that each village had a parish council. The two acts brought a marked improvement in the quality of local government and reduced the power of the landed gentry.

1888 March 1 - Work started on building St Leonards Pier, almost opposite the Royal Victoria Hotel. The first pile was driven on this day.

1888 April 21 - The East and West Hills were purchased for the town from the Sayer-Milward Estate for £24,000. The two-year sale was criticised because of the high price paid for the 24 acres on the West Hill and 60 acres on the East Hill.

1888 June 9 - The Brassey Institute, with its reference library and school of art, was presented to the town by Lord Brassey.

1889 Feb - The historic Swan Hotel in High Street was sold to the London Distillery Company, who then sold it to local builders Taylor Brothers. They had demolished it by late August 1889, building a smaller pub on the corner, plus 23 houses on the vacant space. The replacement pub was destroyed by a bomb in World War Two and the site is now a public garden.

1889 March - The Children’s Relief Fund reported that the past winter had been the worst for a decade, giving out 16,740 free breakfasts to the ‘deserving poor’. The Old Town Free Dinner Fund had provided over 50,000 meals. Three boys, aged 9, 10 and 11, appeared before the magistrates bench, charged with being without visible means of subsistence. They were living under a net shop.

1889 March 15 - A public meeting decided that Hastings should have a harbour built in front of the Old Town, and a committee was set up to investigate the scheme further. A second meeting in October 1889 agreed to go ahead with an 18½-acre project, using the new groyne at Rock-a-Nore as the east arm. The scheme came to fruition in 1896, with Old Town grocer Cllr Richard Idenden as the key figure.

1889 May 10 - The Hastings and St Leonards Co-operative Society, formed in January 1887, opened its first shop, in Mount Pleasant Road. It then had 292 members, and had bought a pony and cart. By the end of the year it had moved to 41-2 Salisbury Road, off Bohemia Road.

1889 June 1 - The new West Marina railway station opened, following a rebuilding of the original, built in 1846.

1889 Mid-June - There was great excitement when the Hastings Observer gave a demonstration to special guests in its office of Edison’s phonograph, “the wonderful ‘talking machine’”.

1889 July 20 - The Hastings Observer reported that during the previous four years the amount of housing built in the town was “simply enormous”, especially in Clive Vale, the Bopeep area, Filsham Road, Sedlescombe Road South/Springfield Road, Hollington and the new Milward Road. But in the following winter house orders went down and there was much unemployment.

1889 Nov 2 - A former coal store under the Fishermen’s Institute at 97 All Saints Street was converted into the Fishermen’s Church Coffee Room. Set up by the church, it dispensed coffee, cocoa and soup to people in need. For many years it was to be the Old Town’s main soup kitchen in times of hardship. Its entrance was in The Creek.

1889 Nov 7 - The Brighton-based Evening Argus published its first Hastings edition, from Central Hall in Bank Buildings. This paper, covering all eastern Sussex, was a success, so in 1898 the Argus moved into 14 Castle Hill Road, where it stayed until c1950.

1889 Late Nov - The Borough Association was formed at a large public meeting. Its aim was to bring back the prosperity of 25 years before, as the town had been going backward for the last 8-10 years.

1890 - Founding of the Hastings and St Leonards Museum Association. Its museum opened in 1892 in the Brassey Institute, and was donated to Hastings Council on March 1 1905.

1890 May - The Hastings Conservative Party acquired a new long-term headquarters: 12 Carlisle Parade.

1890 July 16 - The memorial stone of the Wesleyan Methodist Church on the corner of Mount Pleasant Road and Calvert Road was laid; it was formally opened on May 24 1891.

1890 Aug 30 - Death of the famous botanical artist Marianne North, aged 59.

1891 - The largest pleasure yacht ever to work off Hastings beach was built at the Kent’s shipyard in Rock-a-Nore. The New Albertine, about 45 or 46 feet on the keel and 55 feet overall, took up to 130 passengers to sea each time from the beach in front of the Queens Hotel. She stopped in 1924.

1891 March 9 - A great blizzard drowned three fishermen. Two fishing boats were wrecked and five others damaged.

1891 March 25 - Official opening of the West Hill Lift. It had cost £18,800, but was not profitable, and in early 1894 was sold at auction for £5,575. Its gas engine was replaced by a diesel one in 1929, and in 1971 it was converted to electricity.

1891 July 16 - Consecration of the new All Souls Church, Athelstan Road, built in memory of Thomas Mason by his widow Elizabeth Mason. Its foundation stone was laid on November 2 1889. It closed in late 2007.

1891 Sept 18 - Opening of the new Priory Road School for boys, on the corner of Croft Road (now flats). It replaced the two School Board schools in Bourne Walk, both on the site of today’s Bourne roadway.

1891 Oct 28 - Lady Brassey official opened the 960-feet long St Leonards Pier, almost opposite the Royal Victoria Hotel. Its main feature was a pavilion near the shoreward end. The pier was never a financial success. It did not re-open after suffering severe damage in World War Two, and was demolished in the early 1950s.

1891 Nov 11 - During a dramatic storm, the large three-masted German barque JC Pfluger, bound from San Francisco to Bremen in Germany, was driven ashore at Bopeep. Her 24 crew were rescued by Coastguards using breeches buoy equipment. The schooner Nerissa, bound to Norway, was wrecked on Hastings beach. The 1,000 ton JC Pfluger was later refloated and towed to Tilbury Docks, on the Thames.

1892 Feb 26 - Opening of the new schools for boys and girls in Clive Vale, in Githa Road, adjacent to the existing Clive Vale Infants School.

1892 April 28 - The Railway Mission Hall in Portland Steps, off Portland Road, was opened.

1892 Aug 16 - Hastings Museum was officially opened, on the upper floor of the Brassey Institute in Claremont.

1892 Sept 26 - The Hastings Technical School in Bourne Walk opened, giving technical instruction to local elementary pupils. It was in what had been the Bourne Walk Board School until Priory Road School replaced it in September 1891.

1893 March 8 - The Hastings Golf Club was formed at a public meeting in the town hall. Its course was on the East Hill. In March 1895 its clubhouse opened, at the junction of Barley Lane and Rocklands Lane.

1893 Sept 8 - The Crown 'conveyed' (sold for £400) all the land between the high and low water marks in the borough to Hastings Council on strict conditions, which it later failed to keep.

1894 Jan 20 - At a meeting in the Provincial Hotel, 17 Havelock Road, local postmen agreed to set up a Postmen’s Federation, seeking a “living wage” of £2 per week. On February 19 compositors and machinemen in the printing industry met at the Carlisle Hotel and decided to create a branch of the Typographical Association. At a meeting in the Clarence Hotel on June 10, about 60 house painters and decorators formed a branch of the Amalgamated Society of Decorators and Painters.

1894 June 24 - The town’s telephone exchange moved into new premises at 52 Cambridge Road (now No 47). The first exchange was at 12 Claremont (upstairs at the back) from the summer of 1885. In July 1930 it moved to the new post office in Cambridge Road.

1894 June 30 - The entire seafront was illuminated by electricity for the first time. Until then there were only 15 lamps, lighting the front between the Queens Hotel and the pier.

1894 Dec - The 189 feet high spire and tower of Christ Church, London Road/Silchester Road, were completed. It was the tallest building in the town.

1894 Dec 31 - New parish councils, including Hollington and Ore, and the Hastings Rural District Council, which had all been created by the 1894 Local Government Act, met for the first time.

c1895 - The Hastings Literary and Scientific Institution, founded 1831, was wound up.

1895 Jan 23 - The large St Leonards Archway, across the seafront just west of the bottom of London Road, was covertly demolished during the course of one night by Hastings Council, despite major public opposition.

1895 June - No 3 Shepherd Street, St Leonards, was bought by Hastings Council as the site for a new fire station.

1895 July 5 - The Hastings and St Leonards Angling Society was formed.

1895 Aug 5-31 - The first Hastings Chess Tournament was held from August 5-31 and was a major success, making it an annual event, known around the world. It was held in the Brassey Institute, Claremont. Adverts said its competitors were “The strongest players in the world”. Its first prize was £150.

1895 Aug 26-29 - The town’s first carnival was held. Celebrations took place in four days of “constant amusement”: fetes, processions, displays, fireworks, fancy dress dances, vocal concerts and many other festivities. The main event was the floral carnival along the seafront on Wednesday 26th. The organiser was Henry Cousins.

1895 Aug 30 - The new West St Leonards School, at the junction of Bexhill Road and Filsham Road, was opened.

1896 Feb 29 - Opening of the large new Artillery Volunteers headquarters building and drill hall at Rock-a-Nore. It was on the site of today’s aquarium.

1896 May 4 - The new Tower Road School was officially opened.

1896 June 1 - Work began on building the harbour, the remains of which are still in place. Its ‘foundation stone’ was laid in a big ceremony on June 16 1897, aimed at attracting more investment, which was not forthcoming, and the company effectively went bust at the end of that year.

1896 July 9 - The foundation stone was laid for the new Portland Place School.

1897 - Grosvenor Crescent was built.

1897 April - The government authorised the extension of the borough boundaries to take in Ore and Hollington. Its first elections were in November 1897, for the ‘Forty Thieves’ (30 councillors, ten aldermen).

1897 July - Hastings Council took over the Hastings Electric Light Company, with its Earl Street works, for what was condemned as too high a price. Many councillors were shareholders in the company and therefore benefited from the overspending.

1897 Dec - As “the whole of the District of Ore is without a water supply”, Hastings Council decided that £3,094 would be spent on laying on a water system there. It was also decided to supply water to the developing parts of the St Helens Estate, such as Hoads Wood Road, and to improve the supply in the Silverhill area.

1898 Jan 7 - The go-ahead was given by Hastings Council to lay a large stone apron (still in situ) on the east side of No 1 groyne at Rock-a-Nore, which was suffering severe erosion by the sea. It was also agreed to improve the steep slope between High Bank and Old London Road, near Mount Road, because it was now “in a very dangerous state”.

1898 Feb 22 - A new Freemasons’ lodge was set up: the Hastings Lodge No 2692.

1898 March - Hastings Council agreed to greatly increase the number of horses it owned and used, from 36 to 66. This was to involve building new stables at Ore, Silverhill and Rock-a-Nore Road (which is now the Shipwreck Heritage Centre).

1898 April - Hastings Council gave the Rev Sayer-Milward permission to lay out a road on the West Hill for a new housing development. The 360-yard long road, between the top of Croft Road and the junction of Alpine Road and Priory Road, was to be called Collier Road, after the 18th century Collier family from whom the Reverend had inherited the land.

1898 April 16 - A new newspaper was launched, the Hastings Weekly Mail. In March 1899 it merged with the Hastings Times to become the Hastings Weekly Mail and Times, which closed in December 1911.

1898 - Hastings Water Committee bought land from the Rev Sayer-Milward for £500 at Fairlight Down to construct the Fairlight Reservoir.

1898 Nov 6 - The brick-lined St Andrews Arch tunnel under the railway line at the top of Queens Road was demolished and replaced by today's iron bridge.

1898 Late - Construction began of the Castledown estate of blocks of flats in the garden of Castledown House on the West Hill. The house remained in use until it was demolished in 1985.

1899 March 30 - Opening of Empire Theatre, Pelham Place. It was soon renamed the Hippodrome, and became the De Luxe Cinema in 1910. It is now the De Luxe amusements centre

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