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PUB HISTORY
Hastings, St Leonards,
Rye & Lewes

  

  

The Havelock Pub, America Ground, Hastings

by David & Lynda Russell


PUB HISTORY SOCIETY JOURNAL, ISSUE 5 2007


The town centre of Hastings, long known as America Ground, was originally marsh land reclaimed from the sea during the 18th century. Being no-man’s land it attracted squatters who settled here from about 1800. Some of them lived in old boats or in the remnants of smuggling ships captured and sawn in half by the Customs and Excise. Others lived in shanties and cabins built from scrap.

However, it has been shown that over time ‘some buildings were quite substantial and since it was estimated that up to a 1,000 people were living on what was now generally referred to as the America Ground — a name applied after the inhabitants had demonstrated their independence from Hastings Corporation by hoisting the American flag, it became almost a township in its own right’. 1


In 1827 America Ground was claimed by the Crown who began to charge rent but independent to the end, most of the ‘Americans’ refused to pay and were finally evicted in 1835. The main thoroughfare of America Ground is Robertson Street, a purpose built shopping street dating from 1850 where several licensed premises are found today. Unlike today however, the Victorian developers were quite clear in their aims and stipulated that the ‘road is available for trade purposes; but no taverns, public houses or beer shops will be allowed without a special licence from the Crown Lessee’.

A 19th century guide book refers to the street as ‘the local Regent Street’, ‘the place where ladies most do congregate when on shopping thoughts intent; and, indeed, there is some excuse, for the shops are of the best, and the wares so tastefully displayed that tis no wonder ladies are tempted when time hangs heavy and purses are well filled. During several hours of the day the roadway is filled with carriages, and the sidewalks thronged with pedestrians.’ 2

Today the wealthy classes are long gone and true to its ‘America Ground’ roots Robertson Street has recently been described in the national press as ‘the wild west at closing time’! 3

The Havelock Hotel

Upon the death of General Sir Henry Havelock in November 1857, Passenger Station Road, Hastings, was re-named Havelock Road and the

Havelock Hotel was opened at no. 27. The office of a prominent local Architect George Beck, at No. 37 Havelock Road, was called Lucknow House — Lucknow being the scene of Havelock’s final battle during the Indian Mutiny and the place where he died of dysentery.

The Havelock Hotel and Commercial House, later the General Havelock and later still simply the Havelock, was situated on a triangular corner between Robertson Street and Havelock Road. It originally occupied an area about four times greater than it does today and was designed to cater for the needs of the upper and middle classes of a rapidly developing fashionable resort. As the century progressed and the social structure changed it performed some useful functions. Local property auctions took place here and the Court of the Cinque Ports Ancient Order of Foresters which had 300 members met here on a regular basis.It was also used by some Trade Union branches. In 1860, 60 carpenters and joiners met here to discuss how to get a pay rise. The local press noted the men were ‘respectably habited and of quiet demeanour’. They discussed and carried a motion: ‘This meeting pledges itself to send a requisition to the masters respectfully worded, to increase wages at the rate of 6d a day on the amount now paid, preferring not to strike and believing that by temperate solicitation, its request will be granted’.

By the 1870s The Havelock was doing a roaring trade. On one occasion 180 children from the Licensed Victualler’s school in Kennington arrived at Hastings railway station and marched to the beach ‘to the merry strains of a well trained drum and fyfe band’, went for a swim and a ramble and then marched back to the Havelock for dinner and accommodation. 4

But not all the customers were as happy. In the same year an inquest was held at the Havelock into the suicide of a commercial traveller in ‘porcelain ware’. On arrival in Hastings he booked into room 17 for three days. After not appearing the police were called and the door forced. A constable found the deceased hanging by the neck with a long handkerchief tied to the bedrail. The waiter Alfred Briggs, who had attended him, thought: ‘He seemed vacant, lost and in low spirits’. The verdict was suicide whilst in a state of temporary insanity. 5

In the early 1880s just before the licence changed hands, a group of musicians playing outside were found to be blocking the road with nine or 10 music stands and a crowd nine feet deep. They told the police constable that the landlord who was about to transfer, had requested them to play ‘a parting tune’ for him. 6

Perhaps he ‘saw the writing on the wall’ as from now on circumstances began to change and with the onset of the economic depression the Havelock began to suffer. The Havelock Hotel Company reports for these years show a series of losses. In 1883 the Annual Report showed a substantial profit loss, increasing debts, County Court summons and writs. They needed to take £7,000 p.a. but in 1883 it was only £3,500. Receipts from the bars and restaurant were £1,897.7s 0d, and from the hotel and billiards room £1,451.6s 2d. The company owed £2,300 and its assets were £3,300. Nothing could be done. The company was wound up and went into liquidation and shortly afterwards the hotel was ‘remodelled’.

Because of the depression and an increase in the number of local hotels, the Havelock was changed into the straightforward pub it is today. The whole corner section was sold off with just the pub remaining. In 1885 the manager applied for a certificate for a public billiard table in the room above ‘the shop lately occupied by the Havelock Hotel’, and the pub continued as normal. This was perhaps an early pointer to the town's decline as a fashionable resort. 7

The landlord was ‘called up’ in the First World War and the licence was taken by Sara Bird who got off to a bad start by using unstamped glasses. The magistrate told her to ‘put them in the museum’ and to run the pub more diligently.

The Havelock Pub


The address of the pub is 27 – 27c Havelock Road and 58 – 61 Robertson Street. A passageway which ran through the pub was at one time used as a thoroughfare between the two streets and as an entrance to various bars.

During the Second World War the passageway was used as a shelter from German bombs on at least one occasion. “I don't remember how many aircraft there were but they were strung out wing tip to wing tip along the coast. I was walking down by the post office when the guns opened up. There was a 40mm Bofor gun on the old Hastings Observer building, and he opened up just as we were walking past. There was a god almighty explosion and we went into the passage of the Havelock pub, and we dived into that passage and threw ourselves onto the ground and lay there looking out before a bomb hit what was the old Royal Oak Hotel. Along by Woolworth’s there was a car going by and it was sent up into the air by the bomb and over and over .... While we laid there, there was another terrific explosion down by Plummer’s and I’ll never forget seeing a huge lump of yellow coloured masonry come over and land on the tram wires.  I saw the wires stretch down and then up and back it went. I never knew where it went to, but it was a huge lump of masonry. When it had quietened down ... this Canadian soldier came running over covered in blood and dirt. He picked up his motorbike which was lying on its side in the gutter, and dashed off towards Bexhill, about 80 miles an hour.” 8


In 1956 the pub was closed for some months for refurbishment. The bars were enlarged and artistic candelabra lighting fitted. The tiled walls of the old passageway were cleaned but otherwise not mentioned. Forty years later the Havelock came to national attention in 1995 when it was suddenly realised that its beautifully decorated wall tiles were possibly Royal Doulton. This attracted media frenzy on television and in the national press and much speculation as to their value. One source quoted a value of up to £10,000 for each wall. English Heritage immediately granted the Havelock a grade two listing.


The tiled walls in question include four separate pictures each covering approximately half a wall from floor to ceiling, and surrounded by brown tiles that have been made to resemble a wooden picture frame. The pictures are surrounded by tiles of varying sizes and colours, some with a raised decorative pattern. The pictures covered the whole wall of the original passageway between the two streets.

Picture 1 depicts a land battle entitled ‘The Battle of Hastings A.D. 1066’. The picture is extremely detailed although a certain amount of artistic licence has been used.

Picture 2 shows General Havelock sitting astride a white horse in uniform and plumed headgear, hand on hip and powerful body language. An Indian building can just be made out in the distance. This picture is situated in the Havelock Road entrance to the pub.

Picture 3 is of the ruins of Hastings Castle against a backdrop of Hastings pier with St Leonards pier in the far distance.

Picture 4 is a scene of a sea battle between three vessels. Of the three, two are named, one is ‘Conqueror’ which bears the port registration ‘Hastings’, and the other is a French ship ‘Le Cormoron Affame’ (The Hungry Cormorant). A certain amount of artistic licence also appears to have been used in this picture.



1

2

3

4

Apparently it has not been possible to verify the existence of either ship, however, local folklore would have us believe that the timber from the French vessel is the timber seen today forming the ceiling of the Havelock's ground floor bar. It seems unlikely that the artist would have named the ships and depicted a battle in such a large picture with so much detail and presumably considerable cost, if the event was entirely fictional. The picture is entitled ‘English fisherman boarding French pirate’. The Royal Doulton Museum has suggested that the pictures might date from between 1890 and 1917 although during alterations to another passage at another pub the Royal Albion in 1911, the landlord said he would “like pictures on the wall like the Havelock”.


The Havelock tiles were installed by Alfred TS Carter of Brockley, SE London, whose name is chiselled into the base of at least one of them. It was originally thought that they came from Carters Tiles Ltd, Poole, Dorset (now Poole Pottery) but it is now thought they are too detailed to be that company's work.


We quote from correspondence between the Royal Doulton Museum in Stoke on Trent and Hastings Borough Council: ‘The tile panels as pictured have all the characteristics of Royal Doulton hand painted faience panels made during the latter years of the 19th century. The surrounding tiles also have the distinctive qualities of Doulton glazed stoneware decorative tiles. The work is of a very high quality and the painting is of a style and finish consistent with John Eyre or John H McClennan.’ ‘However, Doulton tiles were normally clearly marked as such and the artist’s name was almost always visible. Many tiles were marked on the reverse and the only way to check for this would be to remove some from the wall, risking damage. It may be that Carter commissioned the work and then provided it to the Havelock Hotel, specifying that no marks other than Carters own would be visible.’ 9


Towards the end of 1995 a pensioner from the nearby town of Bexhill on Sea contacted the local council to say that the tiles came from a relative of hers who had once owned a tile works in South London and were commissioned by a ‘philanthropist before 1920’. Why they were commissioned for the Havelock pub and the motive of the philanthropist remains unknown but at least one other pub, The Fox in St Leonards, had (plain) tiles on its outside walls from the same source.

1   Barry Funnell: America Ground 1999.

2   Chris Swarbrooke: Robertson Street Hastings 1851–1881. nd. 1066 genealogy website.

3   Daily Telegraph. 13/2/2007

4   Hastings and St Leonards Chronicle, 2917/1874

5   Op Cit, 25/3/1874

6   Op Cit, 28/11/1883

7   Op Cit, 23/9/1885

8   Interview quoted in Nathan Goodwin: Hastings At War, p84

9   Hastings Library file.



   The Licensing Act of 1872 and bona fide travellers: Fishermen, Printers and Higglers


PUB HISTORY SOCIETY – AUTUMN 2007


The 1872 Act apparently remains in force today and it is illegal to be drunk in charge of a horse, a cow or a steam engine, with a possible penalty of £200 or 51 weeks in prison. Under the Act some drinkers became infamous ‘bona fide travellers’, who could be served outside of normal trading hours. Travelling in good faith meant that you should not be ‘travelling for the purpose of taking refreshment’, but you could be ‘one who goes into an inn for refreshment in the course of a journey, whether of business or pleasure’.

While people posing as travellers were regularly charged and prosecuted, it was difficult to prosecute licensees who had a handy escape clause in the law. To find the publican guilty, the prosecution had to prove that the licensee did not ‘honestly believe’ that his customer was a bona fide traveller when serving outside of normal opening hours.


Here are four cases from Hastings:
The Queen Adelaide in Hastings, a ‘fishermen's pub’, was granted a 5am licence in 1872 along with other pubs in the fishing community like the Anchor, the Queen's Head and the Albert. The 5am licence lasted until the First World War when the Defence of the Realm Act severely cut back pub opening hours. They applied for an exemption from the D.O.R.A. restrictions so that they could continue serving local fishermen. The exemption was refused. However, the magistrates said they could serve bona fide travellers and as far as they were concerned fishermen on boats returning from fishing trips were just that and could be served! However, the ‘fishing pubs’ around Hastings Stade were warned that this did not apply to the fish wholesalers who congregated there in the early mornings, to the Hastings ferry man or to employees and others on pleasure boats.


In the same year the magistrates found that London ‘Printers excursionists’ were coming into the town on a Saturday and being treated by landlords as bona fide travellers for the whole weekend. It was decided that ‘when they stopped on Saturday night, they ceased to be travellers’, and could only be served out of hours as lodgers where they were staying. Later in the 19th century a constable found three men in the bar of the Pilot drinking Porter, rum and milk on a Sunday morning at 9.20am. In court the landlord said he had “opened the door to sweep out the bar and a higgler (ie a peddler) walked in”. As the man had walked 7 miles he thought he was a ‘bona fide’ traveller. The other two were lodgers and the case was dismissed.


In 1910 two men from Hastings knocked at the door of the Bulverhythe pub in the western district of Hastings, at 11.15am on a Sunday morning and asked to be let in as ‘travellers’. The normal opening hours were from 12pm but this did not apply to those who had ‘travelled’ a distance of at least three miles. The case was adjourned so that the magistrates could determine the actual distance. After a lot of measuring they decided that the distance the two men had travelled was two hundred yards short of the required three miles! When they were re-summonsed the case was dismissed.


David & Lynda Russell


The original Crown Inn was in Courthouse Street and dated from the 16th century. It was re-built after a fire in the Tudor period. Until its closure this year there has been a pub here since 1794, when it was a coaching inn licensed to William Smith. Coaches set off for London, Brighton and Dover from here. An advert in 1816 said: ‘The Crown Inn coach sets off every morning at 8am and arrives in London at 6pm. It is driven by the most experienced coachman.’


As early as 1817, Hastings was so crowded in the summer months that the Crown had its loft fitted up as sleeping quarters for the servants, and engaged up to 30 additional beds off the premises. Powell’s Guide for 1831 says Mrs Smith ‘deserves particular commendation and support, as being the first (with a family of seven children) to add to the accommodation of visitors by every species of comfort, neatness, and domestic attention’.


The Smith’s time at the Crown ended in 1832 when they became bankrupt and marked the beginning of a period of decline. In 1839, for example, two members of  Hastings police force, an inspector and a constable, were charged with ‘neglecting their duty wantonly’ and degrading the character of the Hastings police’, by drinking ale and rum in the Crown from ‘noon till 7pm in the company of two ladies of the night’. In the evening when they retired upstairs ‘the Inspector was so intoxicated’, a witness stated, that ‘he went upstairs on his hands and knees’.


Like many pubs, the Crown was attached to a common lodging house. A survey of sanitary conditions in 1850 found 13  beds in a converted‘ stable without running water, drainage or a toilet. Lodgers used buckets, which when full were dumped in the street. For this the Crown charged two shillings [10p] a week.

LOOKING BACK

Former Hastings landlord was survivor of the Titanic disaster


HASTINGS OBSERVER, DECEMBER 21, 2012

The Crown Inn before 1921

From 1902 the landlord was Alexander Littlejohn. After his time at the Crown he joined the White Star Line and in 1912 he was a steward on the ill-fated Titanic. Amazingly he survived the ordeal after being ordered to row lifeboat 13.


‘We could see the Titanic sinking’, he said, ‘Her forward ports were under water and we could see the lights going out on the deck ... all her other lights were burning brilliantly and she looked a blaze of light from stem to stern. We watched her like this for some time then suddenly she gave a plunge forward and all the lights went out. Her stern went right up in the air; there were two or three explosions and ... immediately after there were terrible cries for help. They were awful and heartrending.’


Alexander Littlejohn was one of few Hastings connections with the Titanic.




Mr Littlejohn was a steward on the ill-fated Titanic

Alexander Littlejohn as a young man … and after he had survived the sinking of the Titanic

The full history of this pub can be found in The Pubs of Hastings & St Leonards by David Russell.


LOOKING BACK

The Historic pub that was attached to the first theatre in Hastings


HASTINGS OBSERVER, JANUARY 25, 2013



Sketch of the Hare and Hounds in 1790


The Hare and Hounds, Ore, existed in 1777, but was probably much older. It has a special niche in local history because Hastings first theatre, a small playhouse built in 1806, was attached to it.  

 The pub was five minutes walk from Halton Barracks where troops were stationed in readiness for the threatened invasion by Napoleon. They were good customers of the Hare and Hounds and on 1st July 1806 the first performance of a comedy called The Soldier’s Daughter was shown here. But by 1809 the audiences dwindled and the theatre was forced, at times, to put on shows of performing dogs.

 In the 1820s the Shakespearean actor Edmund Kean played Shylock in the Merchant of Venice for one night only. He was accompanied by Robert Elliston, a leading comedian of the day, and the evening was a resounding success. The scenery painter, Thomas Sidney Cooper RA, worked in the theatre for a short period, and was hired to paint the scenery for a play called the Battle of Hastings.   



Theatre, Hare and Hounds,

HASTING.


The Public are most respectfully informed, this Theatre will open for a short Season.


On Thursday, 17th Sept. 1818.

When the Majesties Servants of the Theatre Royal Windsor will Perform the Celebrated Comedy of THE

HONEYMOON

Duke Aranza Mr. SALTER

Rolando Mr. GANN       Count Montalbin Mr. M. PENLEY

Balthazar Mr. CRESWELL

Lopez Mr. PENLEY      Campillo Mr. BENNETT

Pedro Mr. W. PENLEY       Jaques Mr. JONAS

Lampedo Mr. Burton

Juliana Miss R. PENLEY      Volante Miss PENLEY

Zamora Miss FISHER        Hostess Mrs. BEYNON

In Act 4th, a Rustic Dance incident to the Play by Mr. SALTER

Mr. BENNETT, Mr. YARNOLD, Mr. BRADSHAW

Miss R. PENLEY, Miss YOUNG and Miss E. PENLEY.


END OF THE PLAY

A COMIC SONG by Mr. BURTON.

And a Comic Pas Seal by Mr. Fellows.

To conclude with the last new Farce of

The Sleeping Draught.

Written by Mr. Penley Jun. and Performed with unbounded applause

at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane,

Doctor Vincolo         Mr. PENLEY

Rinaldo Mr. M. PENLEY       Popolino Mr. GANN

Gabriotto Mr. JONAS       Yaldo Mr. BURTON

Bruno Mr. BENNETT        First Fellow Mr. W. PENLEY

Second Fellow Mr. BRADSHAW

Signora Francesca Miss FISHER    and Nonna Miss PENLEY

BOXES 3s,...PIT 2s,...GALLERY 1s.

Doors to be opened at 6 and to begin at 7

Tickets to be had of Mr. Austin, Printer, High Street at the Inn, & of Mr. Penley, at the Theatre

where places for the Boxes may be taken.

No Person may be admitted behind the Scenes.

Nights of Performance will be Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Austin, Printer, Hasting.

 “I was busy painting the tent of King Harold in pink and white stripes“, he records in his autobiography, “when an amateur actor sauntered up with the very insulting manner that was usual to him (for he was a very high-and-mighty young gentleman, and thought a great deal of himself), and said it was not a bit like the tent”. I said, “Don’t interfere with me and I won’t interfere with you”. But just as Mr Kean entered the theatre, he came again and called me an ass. Now as ill luck, or good luck would have it, I had in my hand what is called a pound brush full of pink paint with which I was laying on the pink stripes of the tent, and I suddenly turned and rammed it into his mouth. Upon this Mr Kean said to him: “Sir, I don’t know who you are, but I heard what you said to this lad, and it is my opinion that you are no gentleman, and it served you quite right to have your mouth stopped with pink paint.”

 

Edmund Keane

Thomas Sidney Cooper

 Over a century later the pub had a tontine club, a type of savings club with a fixed number of members who each received an annuity at Christmas.  Subscriptions were banked with the brewers and invested. The size of the annuity paid out increased as the number of members decreased through death. The remaining capital was ‘scooped’ by the last living member, who, in this case, died in the 1940s.

 Just before Christmas 1933, it was found that the landlord had absconded with £50 8s [£50.40] of the funds. Tamplin’s the brewers made good the deficit, remarking that there were a lot of poor people in Ore and they ‘wanted to stand by them’. The landlord was committed for trial for fraud and given three months. The only other known tontine club in Hastings operated out of the Marina Inn in Caves Road.



 


Playbill of 1818

Plaque at the bottom of Saxon Road

From The Pubs of Hastings & Leonards by David Russell, available from Waterstones, Bohemia Voice, Salmonds and History House or www.hastingspubhistory.com

LOOKING BACK

History of the pub that made it into the Guinness Book of World Records


HASTINGS OBSERVER, AUGUST 09, 2013

Moda, Queens Road dates from the 1850s, when it was part of Queens Buildings. In 1866 it became the London Stores and Oyster Luncheon Bar and in one of several cases following a visit by the police, the landlord was charged with ‘unlawfully and knowingly permitting and suffering divers persons of a notorious bad character to assemble in his house against the tenor of his licence’.

     It was renamed the Central Hotel in 1875 after the cricket ground behind, and in the mid 1880s it became the headquarters of the Borough Bonfire Boys, one of four societies in the town.  

    After the First World War the Central had a large circular bar serving several cubicles, each had a velvet curtain that had to be pulled aside to enter. These bars were popular with people who wanted privacy but were removed in the late 1930s.  

    From 1942 to 1945 the Central was used by American troops on leave. The late Charles Banks, then Police Inspector Banks, remembered that: “On the whole the Americans were well behaved, but there were quarrels at times with Canadian and British troops, mainly caused by the high rates of American pay”.

   Tommy Read son of the landlord at the time, now living in Hythe, recalls that: “The beer was rationed and we often ran out. My father would put a notice on the door ‘No Beer’.

   But the brewery expected us to keep open for tea and coffee. I was often sent to the Clock House off-licence (now the lighting shop) in Queens Road for illicit supplies of Guinness. When the brewery found out they were very annoyed and we moved out!”

    In December 1945 the pub was renamed once more to become the G.I. commemorating American patronage. Before the war they were told they would be welcome in British pubs if they remembered that it was generally a working man’s place, where men come to meet their friends, not strangers.

    After the war, Norman Longmate, in his book The GI’s wrote: ‘The final proof that the pub, the most English of institutions had taken the American serviceman to its heart came, when the Central Hotel, Hastings was formerly renamed the G.I.’

    At the renaming ceremony, Sergeant William Hastings of Texas unfurled a new pub sign. He was presented with a silver tankard, and many dignitaries made speeches. The name G.I. put the pub into the Guinness Book of Records, as the shortest pub name in the country.  

    But this was not its final name. In 1962 it changed to New Central; in 1979 to the Town Crier and in 1996 to Pitcher’s Sports Bar and Diner. Ray Goode, Hastings’s town crier was presented with the old pub sign, which was a portrait of himself. More recently it became Moda, its seventh name in over 150 years.



 


G.I. From 1945 to 1962

Whitbread sign outside the G.I.

Town Crier from 1979 to 1990

Moda today

 From The Pubs of Hastings & St Leonards by David Russell, available at Waterstones, Bohemia Voice or www.hastingspubhistory.com

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The Crown Inn in 2009

Ye Olde Pumpe House, Hastings

by Patrick Chaplin, David and Lynda Russell


PUB HISTORY SOCIETY NEWSLETTER, SUMMER 2016


Having recently bought a box of old picture postcards for very little money from a charity shop, I sat down at home with a glass of ale and started to rummage through them (as only I can rummage) in the hope of finding postcards of pubs.

For once I was successful.

The box contained images of The Crown, Westleton, Suffolk (a village renowned for its annual Barrel Fair), The Navigation Inn at Greensforge Lock on the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and, one I was unsure of, Ye Olde Pumpe House, in Old Town, Hastings (left).

The postcard was published byBennett Publications, Lenham, Kent, U.K. and the reverse of the card reads The Pump House & Prinnys, OLD TOWN HASTINGS “Drink to me only with thine eyes and I will drink to THEE. The words Drink to me only with thine eyes are generally attributed to Ben Jonson circa 1616 from his poem To Celia, Jonsons second line reading And I will pledge with mine not and I will drink to THEE. (Curious.) The card was unposted so I could not date it.

Was/is this a pub or something more sophisticated like a posh tea room? And what on earth was/is ‘Prinnys?

I immediately knew who would have the answers, David and Lynda Russell, authors of a number of excellent books on Hastings pubs. If they didnt know then no one knows. I scanned the image and sent it to them. By return they replied:


Thanks for the pic. Excellent. We haven't seen that one before although we are aware there are several prints and drawings of the Pumphouse about.

The Pump House is Hastings’ last remaining mock Tudor pub and as such is one of the 'newer' pubs in town (1956). It stems from when the Old Town was ‘Tudorised after the war and bomb damage was repaired, etc.

Apart from tourists the Pump House has had a wide customer base: sailors, teddy boys, foreign students and commercial travellers and is currently tied to Shepherd Neame, the Kent brewer. Ye Olde Pumpe House is described on one website as ‘a fake but a good one.

An examination of David and Lyndas book The Pubs of Hastings and St. Leonards 1800-2000 (2014) reveals all one needs to know about Ye Olde Pumpehouse situated in George Street in the town.


The George Street building before the fire in 1953.

It is true that, when you look at a photo or postcard of the pub (hereinafter called the Pumphouse), you could be forgiven for thinking that it is of some antiquity but surely the Ye Olde brings some doubt into your mind. As the authors revealed The Pumphouse is a mere 60 years old, having been purpose-built in 1956; there having previously been three separate dwellings on the site centred on a locally well-known boot and shoe shop owned by two brothers, Sidney and William Carey.


David and Lyndas research revealed that the premises which had lain empty and derelict after the War were almost practically destroyed by fire in 1953. (The image to the right shows the building before the fire.) Over the next three years a Canadian builder, Anthony Newman, reconstructed the site, with some old timbers from nearby All SaintsStreet being incorporated into the front of the building. Work of a previous researcher stated that the original building had been extensively rebuilt but this did not quite extend to a new building’ yet failed to reveal what original parts had been retained.

The Mock Tudor style of building and the utilisation of ‘Ye Olde… to suggest substantial age of a premises were tools used by some brewers, mainly during the interwar years, when improvement of public houses was at its height. And it didnt fool many people. During an interview with the authors, local man Peter Skinner, who drank in The Pumphouse during the 1960s, told them:

“I never saw the Pumphouse as a very old pub, even though it had mock beams and so on… The Pumphouse was a harbinger of things to come, a little artificial, a little more knowing and commercial than other pubs in that area. It was a nice pub, always a little different, not rough, and it was more friendly. Women found it more friendly.”

A customer from the 1970s, known only as Steve, told David and Lynda:

To the surprise of many, including me, this beautiful pub is not Elizabethan but was crafted from old timbers after the Second World War. It matters not. I don’t know whose idea it was to create this exquisite feature of George Street, but I’d like to shake their hand. It is quite extraordinarily well done for the period.


As the last example of a mock Tudor pub in Hastings it is not perhaps surprising that The Pumphouse eventually became a Grade II Listed building.

And as for ‘Prinnys, David and Lynda replied:


Prinny's was a club, a modern jazz club, in the 1960s and 70s which gives you some idea of the date. ‘Prinny’ was apparently a nickname for King George IV so no surprise then that there is, or was, a Prinny's Bar in another Mock Tudor pub, the King & Queen not that far away in Brighton, built in 1937 (which was also the home of a Froth Blowers Vat.). In our archive we have a couple of newspaper ads for the Hastings Prinny’s Club.



The advertisement for Prinnys shown here dates from 1969. Finally, the name…


David and Lynda’s research showed that the pub name was derived from the site of a freshwater pump, believed to be 400 years old which provided that part of Hastings with ‘some good quality water, filtered by the local sandstone, presumably much better than the doubtfulwater available elsewhere.


Today, Ye Olde Pumphouse continues to thrive.






© Patrick Chaplin, David and Lynda Russell

Sources:

Book:

Russell, David The Pubs of Hastings and St. Leonards 1800-2000 (Hastings: Published by Lynda Russell. Third Edition, 2014)

Photographs:

Ye Olde Pumpe House (picture postcard) Patrick Chaplins Collection.

The George Street building before the fire in 1953. Attributed to the late John Hodges.

Ye Olde Pumpe House pub sign - Lynda Russell.

Prinny’s advert c. 1969. Courtesy of the D&L Russell archive.

Website: http://yeoldepumpehouse.com/