New Union Banner

Liberal MP Lucas Shadwell unfurled a new banner of the local Navvies and Bricklayers’ Union at a meeting in the Market Hall, George Street, on the evening of Tuesday 13 June. Mr Shadwell was warmly applauded for his speech supporting the working class, and for his work in Parliament on acts such as the recent Workmen’s Compensation Act. Mr JJ Lamb thanked him. The banner was painted by Mr Fred Dickenson.

Town’s Main Builder Dies

Mr Peter Jenkins, the prominent and popular local businessman and works contractor, died suddenly of burst blood vessel at his home in St Leonards on Tuesday 27 June. “By dint of his own personal efforts and attention to business Mr Jenkins rose to the position of the largest employer of labour in the borough. He was not born with the proverbial silver spoon and was the architect of his own position. He came to Hastings about 30 years ago and began business in a small way. During the latter part of this period Mr Jenkins has carried out many of the chief local contracts and has executed several big jobs for the Corporation, one of the first of which was the erection of the Marine Sea Wall from St Leonards Church to Bopeep, followed, some years later, by a continuance to Grosvenor Gardens. He also erected the new Sanatorium and has also built much in connection with the waterworks. Recently he completed the noble pile of the Theatre of Varieties in Marine Parade and at the time of his death had in hand the erection of the New Coastguard Station [in Sturdee Place], also reservoirs at Fairlight (for the Corporation) and the New Workhouse. The late Mr Jenkins was widely respected as a good master. He was altogether a generous-hearted man. … In politics he was an ardent Liberal, and although he was seldom seen at public meetings, he had great influence at the time of a contest.” The News said a few weeks later that he had died a rich man, with £160,000 in his will.

The Observer of 28 June said: “The growing district of Bulverhythe is commonly known as ‘Jenkin’s Town’, from the fact he put up 200 houses there.” He was born 60 years ago, moving here from London. “In 1869 he started business as a builder, and at the time of his death was on the top rung of the local commercial ladder.” He now has 500 hands in regular employment. He built water reservoirs at Maze Hill, Shornden and Halton, and was currently building the very big one at Ore. He rebuilt the East Sussex Club (on the corner of Warrior Square and Grand Parade), and has erected the drill halls at Rock-a-Nore and Middle Street. He used 1.25 million bricks in the Theatre of Varieties. “He made all his bricks in nine brickyards at Sidley, Guestling etc, and hoped to make this season between en and eleven millions. There would be three and a half million in the new Workhouse. … He was the largest ratepayer in the borough, being assessed for 200 houses.” In Bexhill, he built “a good many houses”, and also Lloyds Bank [Devonshire Road] and the large Nazareth House [Home for the Aged, Haddocks Hill], plus he was then building the Hotel Metropole.

His main workshops were burnt down by a major fire in Bexhill Road on 14 January 1893 [opposite where MFI is now].

Another Tram Bill Refused

The House of Commons Select Committee on 10 July rejected another Bill aiming to set up a tram system in Hastings. The committee decided that the Bexhill and St Leonards Tramways Company’s proposal was undesirable and detrimental to the interests of Hastings and St Leonards. The mayor had opposed it, because of the control it would give Bexhill over Hastings roads. The News believed that the ‘traminists’ would now support Mr Murphy’s separate scheme, soon to be heard by the Light Railway Commissioners.

Tramway Go-Ahead

Mr Murphy’s proposal for a tram system connecting Hastings and Bexhill was partially approved at an inquiry by the Light Railway Commissioners on Thursday 27 July in the town hall. They gave the go-ahead for tramways to connect St Leonards and Bexhill, but rejected the Hastings end of it. “Mr Murphy has succeeded in getting in the thin end of the wedge, and as sure as the sun continues to rise, the wedge will be gradually drove home till the people of Hastings possess that which they have demanded, a complete system of electric tramway communication.”

Tram Support Committee

A public meeting was held in the Silverhill Assembly Room to appoint a district committee for Hollington, Silverhill and Bohemia to arrange a demonstration and mass meeting in September to support tramway agitation. A demonstration was held on the West Hill in late September in support of the trams.

New Liberal Candidate

Mr Freeman Thomas (son-in-law of Lord Brassey) had been chosen as Liberal candidate for Hastings after Captain Mildmay’s resignation in July. The News of 22 September reported that Captain Mildmay wanted repayment of the £50 he advanced for registration purposes.

Death of Toby King

The radical, outspoken Hollington man Alfred ‘Toby’ King died on Monday 4 September, aged 62, at his home in Marley Lane, Battle. The Mail and Times said he was a “very remarkable character.   He was a man who read widely, thought deeply, and throughout a conspicuous career endeavoured to do what he could to bring his ideas and convictions before other people.” He was a ‘Freethinker’ and agnostic. He regularly attended the Hyde Park meetings organised by Mr Bradlaugh, a close friend. “He was an out-and-out Radical, and a foremost figure in the party warfare of his day.” He started life as one of ‘Tom’ Brassey’s navvies on the Balaclava railway which was built for the Crimean War, and he also dug trenches there. He then saved £180 and became friends with Brassey, who leant him enough money to start his own business in Hastings. Road-making was a speciality, and he built many major roads in this part of England. He also became a market gardener, with a very large piece of ground at The Choice, Adelaide Road, Hollington, behind the Tivoli. In 1894 he won £2,000 in a major legal row with the Eversfield Estate Trustees over this ground. He had been ill for several years before his death, and much less prominent than 20 years before. Several years before, he had had a coffin made, which he kept in his office. “He belonged to the great untitled aristocracy, and all who knew him said he was a man in the truest meaning of that term. The world was the poorer for his death, but the richer for his life.” He was an honest, friendly and powerful character. He was a Goliath, a powerful figure, very large in size, with whiskers, and he usually wore a big white felt hat, like nobody else before or since. His name was a household word. His son Frank was a councillor for Hollington and he carried on running the nursery.

Gas Go-Ahead

Royal assent was given on 13 July to the Gas Company’s bill seeking power to build new gasworks at Glyne Gap, shareholders were told at their half-yearly meeting on 8 September. Chairman Cllr Dr Gray said everyone should be very pleased with the most satisfactory result. “A petition in opposition was lodged by the Corporation of Hastings, but after a friendly conference, modifications of some of the clauses were agreed upon, whereby the consumers and shareholders, as well as the ratepayers, generally were saved the expense of opposition. … The opposition was withdrawn, and with it the other threats and vapourings vanished.” The Act contained everything the company had asked for, giving it “very largely extended powers”. The only unsatisfactory aspect was the failure to come to an agreement with the Bexhill Gas Company. They would extend to cover Crowhurst, however. The Hastings company had made a net profit of £11,000 in the six months.

Tram Hopes?

The News reported that, with the local elections coming in November, councillors were ending their two year opposition to the trams in town. The News said the Council should build and run the system, not a private company. The widespread town urgently needed a cheap and easy means of transit and the Council could lay the lines at as little cost as any company. The Council also had plenty of spare day-time capacity in the electricity works to run the trams. As Mr Murphy was so keen to run the system, that must prove how viable it was?

Another Harbour Bill

The Harbour Commissioners were about to go to Parliament for additional powers to increase capital for the harbour works. Under the previous Act, ratepayers were under no liability until the structure was finished to the satisfaction of the borough engineer and it had been running for a year. Mr Stileman had been making experiments testing the foundations at two alleged weak spots in the harbour wall, following complaints by anti-harbourites who want to know what is below the foundations. The News of 17 November reported that a conference took place between Mr Stileman and Mr Carey, the harbour engineer.

Ashburnham Dies

Sir Anchitel Ashburnham, one of the notable people in the local establishment, died on Saturday 2 December, aged 71. He was buried on 6 December at Guestling Church, following a procession there from his nearby family home, the grand old baronial mansion of Broomham Park, owned by the family since at least the early 17th century. He was born 1828 at Guestling Rectory, and was land agent for the Battle Abbey and Normanhurst estates.

William Draper Dies

Mr William Draper, owner of the St Leonards steam mill and windmill in Sedlescombe Road South, Silverhill, had died. He was a leading wholesale and retail corn dealer. The family also had the Havenhurst Steam Mills in Bexhill Road, next to the railway bridge.

Coal Ring?

There was a shortage of coal in Hastings – almost a coal famine. The Boer War was blamed, but the News understood there was plenty of coal at the tips, and wondered “Was there a coal ring?”.

The First Taxis

Hastings Corporation advertised for people to apply for licences “to run two motor cars to be ready for plying for hire by Easter next”. The cars had to be built in such a way as to comply with the regulations of the Locomotives on Highways Act 1896. These were to be the first Hastings taxis. On 28 June 1901 the Council agreed to allow more than two cars to have licences.

FJ Parsons Dies

Death of important local establishment figure Frederick James Parsons, who turned the Hastings Observer into the most influential Hastings-area newspaper from the 1870s onwards. He was born in Rye on 6 October 1844, the eldest son of Isaac Parsons, a newspaper proprietor and printer. Initially FJP worked in Rye for his father. In 1864 he moved to Hastings where his father had started publishing the weekly Hastings Herald in 1861. The Herald was an offshoot of the Rye-based paper the South Eastern Advertiser, and FJP carried out the Hastings news-gathering and editorial work. Later he took over his father’s Hastings printing business. He moved it from Havelock Road to the site of today’s Town Hall, and expanded it with Henry Cousins to become Parsons and Cousins. The Observer was bought from its founder Mr JH Knight in 1866 and merged with the Herald. It was first called the Herald and Observer, then just the Observer from 1873. By then it was clear FJP was not a journalist but a businessman. He worked very hard and long hours, being keen on all aspects of the work. Over the following years he created a big business, centred in Hastings, but with ramifications extending along the south-east coast. When he died, the Observer said (27 January) FJP was managing director of the company that owned the newspaper and the large printing and stationery business in Claremont. He was also director of many other companies, including the Albany Hotel (of which he was chairman), Skinners, the Hastings Bus Company, the Electric Light Company and the Steamboat Company, as well as being shareholder “in other local enterprises”. FJP “took little part in the literary work of the production of his newspapers, as distinct from that of overseeing the commercial department, and exercising a certain amount of authority over the appointment of their staffs.” FJP was not a public figure, a speaker, civic officer or politician. He was “an orthodox Conservative”. He was a “strong Evangelical Churchman, for long a Churchwarden at Blacklands, but yet singularly tolerant of those who differed from him in religious opinions”. He lived at Cumberland House, Laton Road, next door to Blacklands Church. He married Miss Sarah Crew, daughter of Joseph Crew, contractor, of Cumberland Market, Regents Park. They had ten children. He became ill on 29 December, and his father was still alive when FJP died, aged 55. About 120 of his employees attended the funeral service at Blacklands on 24 January, with many prominent local personalities present. His four-horse hearse was escorted to the cemetery by 36 carriages. The News said (26 January) FJP was “the proprietor of one of the most important enterprises in the town … the architect of his own fortune”.

Grammar School Fund Problems

The Grammar School: The Council had given the school £1,000 towards the cost of creating a laboratory for science. This followed correspondence between the Charity Commissioners and the Magdalen and Lasher charities which owned the school. The Observer asked why this had been so delayed. Almost from its inception the Grammar School had been short of funds. In its early years there was a “strong prejudice” against the school because of association with charities, and this feeling had not yet disappeared. Until recent years “a considerable number of Hastings parents fought shy of the school on social grounds”.

George Meadows Dies

Death of George Meadows, former town clerk. He was born in the Old Town on 28 November 1819. He worked for various local solicitors, then forming his own business Meadows, Elliott and Thorpe. He became clerk to the police and then town clerk in March 1867. He was a Liberal, and was very friendly and helpful to the public, who respected him. He retired as town clerk in 1892, and his son Ben F Meadows succeeded him. He remained clerk to the police until his death.

News Owner Dies

Joseph Henbrey Tendall, owner of the Hastings News and clerk to the Hastings School Board, died on Wednesday 21 March. He died at his home, 144 Marina, after a long  illness. The News (March 23) said: “From a humble beginning Mr Tendall by sheer industry and perseverance fought his way to the forefront amongst local men and gained and enjoyed the esteem of a very wide circle of his fellow townsmen.” He was born in 1840, went to Halton National School and Parker’s Endowed School (predecessor of the Grammar School). At 13 he became an office boy for the Hastings Chronicle, at 28 Robertson Street, owned by George Peter Bacon. He then became an apprentice to the print trade, bound for seven years. But he decided he wanted to be a reporter, so he trained himself in shorthand and became one early on in his apprenticeship. The Conservative-owned press was then “at a low ebb”. He remained a pressman until 1871, when “he was advised to become a candidate for the clerkship of the School Board, on the election of the first educational authority for Hastings.” In 1872 “he purchased the proprietorship” of the News. He doubled the size of the paper and cut its price from 2d to 1d. He did little outside – a churchman and a director of one building society. He had “plodding energy. … No board ever had a more faithful servant … lived a consistently good life”. He was friendly and helpful to teachers. He left wife and three daughters. His funeral was at the Holy Trinity on 23 March.

Another Tram Bill

Mr WM Murphy’s bill for providing a circular route of electric tramways for Hastings and St Leonards went before a Parliamentary committee on Monday 26 March. This followed the partial success of his bill in 1899 that allowed the linking of St Leonards and Bexhill, but excluded Hastings.

New Workhouse Stone Laid

Alderman Tuppenney, chairman of Hastings Board of Guardians, on Thursday 5 April, formally laid the corner stone of the new Workhouse under erection on the west side of Cackle Street. The old Workhouse, on the other side of the road, had opened on 10 July 1837. There were 224 inmates.