Hastings Stationer creates lasting image

Ion 3
Ion 3

In this week’s Looking Back series Ion Castro looks at how a Victorian stationer played a key role in preserving images of Hastings and the surrounding area.

Ion Writes: But who was Apel? – Early records show that by the early 1880’s H Apel was operating The Central Library at 55 Robertson Street as a bookseller, stationer, newsagent, bookbinder and printer and that in the early years of the 20th century he had expanded into number 54 next door under the Public Hall.

The premises may well have backed on to those occupied some 20 years earlier in Havelock Road by the young FJ Parsons and his printing press.

Was Apel using the same press perhaps? By 1916 Apel had a telephone (No 264) and the public hall above the premises had become the Public Hall Cinema, later the ‘Plaza’ then ‘Orion’. By 1939 the shop had become part of WH Smith which was to absorb the cinema before the whole lot changed hands and became Yates Wine Lodge.

Apel’s Penny View Book was printed on semigloss paper in a booklet with a paper cover equating to the modern A5 size and the 20 views, including some of Battle, Rye and Camber. It was printed conventionally with the images back-to-back and retailed for one old penny (1d), that is you could have bought 240 of them for £1! There is no text and the printing blocks are identical to some of those used by Mates in his 1901 guide which was a hard cover A4 publication with a lot of text.

The photographs are by Perkins, Son & Venimore of Lewisham who were active 1893 – 1902, George Bradshaw who had acquired Constantine Jennings’ photographic studio in the Memorial Art Gallery on the corner opposite about 1886 and worked there until 1902. No record of the photographer Beagley can be found.

The pictures here show Carlisle Parade. The view is recognisable today and sea wall is still in existence at the back of Sidney Little’s underground car park which now covers the area then occupied by the bathing machines

Also shown is an image of Hastings beach and yachts. Opposite Harold place, these boats operated short trips from the beach for the general public. There is some sort of beach entertainment going on in the foreground.

Another picture shows old St Helens ruins at Ore. The church had been replaced in the 1860s by the current St Helens on the Ridge. Much of the stone of the old church was incorporated in the new church which left the old one as a picturesque ruin to lie neglected for over 100 years until it was conserved and opened to the public last year.

An image of St Leonards shows the Archery Gardens. Notice the target and that the game of tennis is in progress. The site was desecrated in the 1960s by the building of the college which is now being demolished.

There is a picture of the beach and pier. The pier was still very much a promenade pier with the Pavilion at the end.