NOSTALGIA: Birds eye view of White Rock and Hastings Pier

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This week, in his ongoing series, Ion Castro takes a look at more aerial photographs of Hastings,

He writes: We have seen the views revealed by aerial photography, some actual and some ‘faked’ and this theme is continued as we proceed westward from Hastings Town Centre over the White Rock and Hastings Pier areas

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,

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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”

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Hastings & St.Leonards on sea.

An immediate post-war picture showing the gap in Robertson Terrace once occupied by the Albany Hotel destroyed by enemy action in 1943 and now replaced with Albany Court and a seafront entrance to Debenhams store in Robertson Street. Looking up Cambridge Road from ‘The Memorial’ (removed in 1973 following small fire), the Central Methodist Church can be seen. It seated nearly 1,000 worshippers and was replaced with sheltered housing in 1980. In the foreground, where Albert Road now meets the seafront can be seen Woolworths, now Sports Direct, and the art deco public shelter with the Carlisle pub behind it.


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Dating from the 1920’s, and centred on the Palace Hotel built in 1886 on the site of the White Rock Brewery (1831) a tram can be seen at the end of Robertson Street with the original White Rock Baths that were rebuilt in the 1930’s. The underground car parks and promenade are as yet unbuilt so that all traffic has to go down Robertson Street and past the Memorial and notice that the bathing tents in the foreground have replaced bathing machines.

Hastings Pier & Esplanade.

It’s difficult to accurately date this postcard showing Hastings Pier as many Hastingers remember it. The seafront between the Pier and Warrior Square was untouched by the last war and looks little different today. The White Rock Pavilion is in place and the Grand Hotel with its eastern end rebuilt as the Information Centre is yet to be redeveloped as sheltered housing (Waverley Court). The long building in front of the Oval would be rebuilt as the Indoor Bowls Pavilion in the 1960’s

Hastings from the air.

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Photographed in the 1930’s this postcard shows the pier’s landing stage, capable of berthing four paddle-steamers at once. The buildings east of the Yelton Hotel (now the White Rock Hotel) are yet to be damaged by the Luftwaffe and the bandstand that used to be on the promenade can be seen relocated just west of the Bowls Pavilion directly above the pier. Further inland can seen the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery with the Royal East Sussex Hospital.

White Rock.

The original image was a large-format photograph dating from the early 1950’s and not a postcard and as such covers a much wider area. Reminders of the war are still evident – note the damage on the seafront at White Rock and, behind it, the static water tank is still evident next to the original White Rock House. The Royal East Sussex Hospital with the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery above and allotment gardens on the site now occupied by the ambulance station and on the other side of Bohemia Road can be seen the outline of the oval track echoing the name of the area

Royal East Sussex Hospital.

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This close-up image of the Royal East Sussex Hospital dates from the 1930’s before the hospital expanded to overrun the tennis courts and gardens that reached up to the Museum. During the war the open area above the Museum, part of the Summerfields estate, was pressed into service as allotments and finally, in the 1970’s becoming the leisure centre.

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