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PUB HISTORY
Hastings, St Leonards,
Rye & Lewes

  

  


ORAL HISTORY

HASTINGS & ST LEONARDS

 
Charles Banks *Vic Chalcraft * Alan Crouch * Jim Davidson * Julian Deeprose * Pat Dunn * Michael Errey * Ron Fellows * Marie and Alan Garaty * Trefor Holloway * Minnie Howlett * Terry Huggins * Philip Littlejohn * Dot Mitchell * Michael Monk * Cyril Pelluet * Michael Rose * Peter Skinner * Ian Smallwood


Charles W Banks – A war time police inspector

WW II – Inns and Public Houses in the County Borough of HASTINGS 10th July 2008

‘Beer, wine and spirits were strictly rationed. It was quite common for pubs to sell out, and licensees posted notices – ‘NO BEER’ on the doors of their premises. There was an extensive evacuation of non-essential population from the Borough owing to the risk of bombing raids. The population of the Borough was reduced from 65,000 to about 10,000. Hastings was a garrison town with large numbers of British troops, Canadian troops and from 1942 U S troops were camping out in the East Sussex countryside and came into Hastings in lorries and jeeps on leave Passes.

1 The military were the main customers of the pubs. The Americans favoured using the Central Public House in Queens Road. The pub was renamed the G I in 1945 as a reminder of all the trade that was enjoyed from the US troops.

2 As a general rule the U S troops were well behaved in Hastings’s pubs during the war. Any disorder was usually caused by G Is quarrelling with English and Canadian soldiers – the reason being the great difference the G Is were paid compared with British and Canadian soldiers. The Canadian soldiers seemed to favour patronising the Clarence public house, 57 Middle Street, Hastings. Hastings police were frequently called to the Clarence pub to deal with assaults, brawls and wilful damage. The ringleaders were frequently Canadian soldiers – members of the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards.

3 Hastings Police Inspector C Banks was once called to the York Hotel, in Wellington Place, Hastings, (now a boot and shoe shop, Now Costa Coffee Ed). There a G I had got into a quarrel with two English soldiers and the American had suddenly drawn an automatic pistol from his tunic and fired two rounds into the pub ceiling. The two English privates quickly seized and disarmed the G I. Two Provost Corporals arrived at the scene, and under the provisions of the Visiting Forces Act decided that the offender should be dealt with by the U S military authorities. It was requested that the G I be detained in a police cell to await further action.
Two days later Inspector Banks was instructed to prepare a room in the Town Hall (commandeered as Police H Q) for a U S Army Court Martial on the G I detained. The Court consisted of three army officers with two fully armed soldiers. The G I was charged with – carrying a concealed weapon, recklessly firing two rounds in the York Bar and disorderly conduct. After a full hearing the G I was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.

4 The G Is preferred playing pool to billiards in the pubs, but often played darts and snooker. The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Regiment set an excellent standard of good behaviour and relationship with the general public. All members of this Regiment were made Temporary Members of Hastings Borough Police Social Club. They were welcomed in the club room for drinks and playing games, to join the swimming sessions and sports. The R H L I Regiment participated in the raid on Dieppe and sadly two-thirds of them were killed, wounded or taken prisoner.

5 A large number of Canadian soldiers were billeted in vacant houses and hotels. This arrangement caused no problems to the police. They occasionally organised parties for school children and their parents. Their guests were able to enjoy many kinds of luxurious food that had long been unobtainable or was rationed. Out in the country area the U S A forces also provided these very welcomed parties to children and some adults.

6 Hastings Borough suffered its first bombing raid on 26th July 1940. The last flying bomb incident occurred in Hastings on 8th August 1944. During the war the Borough was subjected to 85 enemy air attacks of various kinds, a total of 550 H E bombs, 14 small bombs of a special type and 27 unexploded bombs were accounted for. In addition 12 oil incendiary bombs, about 750 small incendiaries and 15 flying bombs fell on the town.
During these attacks 154 people were killed, 260 were injured and detained in hospital, and 439 were slightly injured.

THE FOLLOWING PUBLIC HOUSES SUFFERED BOMB DAMAGE DURING WW II – THIS LIST MAY BE INCOMPLETE: -

The Bedford, Queens Road, Hastings – direct hit and demolished – 3 persons killed.
The Castle, Wellington Square, Hastings – partly destroyed – one person killed.
The Adelphi Hotel, Carlisle Parade, Hastings – fire damaged premises, partly destroyed.
The Queens Hotel, Pelham Place, Hastings – bomb burst through outer wall and 40 yards away exploded in a Canadian Army billet – 6 soldiers killed.
The Tower Hotel, Tower Road, St. Leonards – German 1,000 lb bomb unexploded landed in cellar. The bomb was safely defused and only minor damage caused to the pub.
The Bull Inn, Bexhill Road, St Leonards – Blast damage from flying bomb (doodlebug) that exploded on face of a nearby cliff.
The Swan, Swan Terrace, Croft Road, Old Town, Hastings in Sunday morning bombing raid was demolished by a bomb. 11 persons were killed – this was the most serious bombing incident in Hastings.  A Memorial Garden is now on the site of The Swan.
The Golden Cross, Havelock Road, Hastings – suffered severe blast damage from bomb explosion on nearby buildings.’


Vic Chalcraft, (born 1926) at his home in Bohemia 2.08.2010, 5.08.2010 and by phone

“I am a member of a long-standing Bohemia family who always used the North Star. My father was a regular in the North Star in the 1930s but he stopped going there because of the illegal activities of the ‘bookies runners’. I started drinking there in the 1950s. One of the attractions then was Poppy Coleman who sang and played the piano. She was the black sheep of the Coleman mustard family. When she started to yodel,” said Vic, “it cleared the pub”. He gave me three articles from the Bohemia Area News, dated 2006–2007, on three charity events organised at the North Star in the mid 1970s. These were ‘Elephant Hunting’, (in Alexandra Park), a mock funeral procession around Bohemia’s pubs and the game of ‘Dwyle Flunking’ in the garage space opposite. They also celebrated the first official May Day Bank Holiday in 1978 by dancing around a Maypole erected on the same space.”
    Landlords of the North Star, he remembers, include Ronald Tyler (1966–1970), Frank and Joan Holdman, (1975–1977?), Frank has posters of the above events and other North Star ephemera and can be found in the Drip at lunchtimes. Terry Wainwright (1977) and others. (These are all verified by the register.) “Then Martin and Di, and then John, the landlord who got into trouble with rent owed to the brewers in 1991. Some of the customers financially supported him and also lost money.” The HSLO 11/1/1991 reported that Watney’s were charging a massive £17,000 per annum rent and claimed he was ‘a trespasser’.
    “During the Tyler era the first Sunday pub football match was played between the North Star and the Denbeigh, Bexhill at Catsfield for an old enamel ‘poe’ painted gold and mounted on a plinth.”
    “Dave Howland, an ex-policeman who drinks there today was an organiser in the Dicky Bow Club at the Tivoli Tavern in the 1970s.  The club was a charity, raised money and organised outings including Blossom Tours of the Kent orchards, trips to Petticoat Lane and annual dinners in Eastbourne.” Vic and his wife were members in the 1970s. (He showed me Agendas, Accounts, Menus and a photo of an Annual Dinner with landlord and landlady Mike & Cherry Murray in the 1970s).
    Vic also remembers a previous landlord of the Bohemia Arms two doors away, now a clothes shop called ‘In the Pink’. “This was ’Mr Watford’ (Percy Watford 1931–1955), the father of Gwen Watford the actress. “Mr Watford as he liked to be called, was a traditionalist and is remembered for his pointed and waxed moustache.”


The Funereal Funeral

by Mr Vic Chalcraft (life-long resident and sage)

It being the closed season for elephants, the local elephant hunters were at a loss for fundraising until it was suggested that a funeral procession and a wake would raise a few bob. So a fine quality coffin made from best plywood appeared, a body was organised and the procession then, with suitably dressed pallbearers, proceeded from pub to pub around Bohemia. One snag was that the body, dressed as Dracula, kept sitting up to see where he was going. The whole cortege was preceded by a fine band of instrumentalists.
    Halfway along Bohemia Road the Gas Board had left a grave into which the coffin and corpse were reverently lowered and photographed. They were then exhumed and carried shoulder high.
    On returning to the North Star, the wake continued. At its end one mourner was so overcome with grief and sustenance that he found it impossible to walk home, so he was placed in the coffin and carried shoulder high along Bohemia, through Silverhill and down Battle Road to his home.
    On arrival, the coffin with body in it was stood upright at his front door, the knocker knocked, and when his wife opened the door the body slid out of the coffin and lay prostrate on the passage floor. Her comments are not printable.
    The proceeds from this event gave fifty-odd old-age pensioners a trip to Beachy Head with sherry and chocolates before returning to a slap-up tea.

- Bohemia Area News, Winter 2006


Elephant Shoot in Bohemia

by Mr Vic Chalcraft (life-long resident and sage)

How many local residents know that elephants have been hunted in Alexandra Park?
    The hunt began when a local pub landlord complained that whilst taking his dogs for a walk, little elephants hid behind tussocks of grass in the park and tripped him up. So the locals formed “The Royal Antedeluvian Alexandra Park Elephant Hounds” to deal with the problem. Permission was sought and obtained from Prince Philip to hunt and catch one beast a year.
    So a meet was arranged, a Master of Hounds appointed and the first hunt took place on a Boxing Day. The hunt met properly dressed and suitably armed with a cannon, muskets and nets etc and started a chase. Sadly none was caught, though proof of their existence was found in the form of warm droppings, which were carried back to the pub where other celebrations such as curry combing and jock strapping took place. These hunts, including a whelk shoot, took place over several years when money was collected for charity. The next to last included carrying a bloke in a coffin from local pub to local pub and enough money was collected to give 52 local OAPs a trip to Beachy Head and a high tea afterwards.
    The final hunt went to France, as it was understood one elephant, fed up with being hunted, had swum to France to escape persecution. Though no animal was caught much elixir was drunk.
    Now the sequel to this final hunt is that two Bexhill anglers fishing by the light tower saw what they thought to be a lady on a lily drifting by, so effected a rescue. It was no lady in distress but a little elephant which they duly brought ashore and received a bravery award for their efforts from the Bexhill Pachyderm Society. The little elephant now resides in a garden in Sedlescombe Road North.
    I assure you that this is all true, plus a lot that remains untold.

- Bohemia Area News, Spring 2006


Dwyle Flunking

by Mr Vic Chalcraft (life-long resident and sage)

Although the May Day Bank Holiday is now a regular feature of the English summer, I thought you might like to read about how the Alexandra Park Elephant Hunters celebrated the first official one (1978).
    As May 1st fell on a Monday, it was decided to have a May festival, with a maypole. If you can visualise big grown men, slightly inebriated, prancing around a maypole, that was it. It also featured an onion eating contest and a tug of war, which somehow involved a lamppost.
    But the main event was ye olde Sussex game of Dwyle Flunking. Now Dwyle Flunking is a team game for which you need six players a side. You also need two small bath tubs containing a soup of stale beer, sheep or cow droppings, and any other concoction available, plus a bat about three feet long and a piece of heavy absorbent cloth known as the Dwyle.
    The rules are simple. Each team’s bath is placed about 20 paces apart and each player in turn stands in his own bath. The team whose turn it is to flunk first puts their first man in, who puts the Dwyle on his stick, dips it in the bath and hurls (or flunks) it at his opponent. Scoring is as follows: face 6 points, chest 5 points, arms 4 each and anywhere else 3 points.
    Each player has three flunks and then the opposing team has a go. The winning team is the one with most points and the losing team buys the beer.

- Bohemia Area News, Summer 2006


Alan Crouch 19.02.09, White Rock Hotel, 02.09.Dripping Spring, 1.03.09 by phone

King’s Head: In the mid 1950s we used to begin an evening drinking Biddenden Cider in the King’s Head. Each customer was only allowed two pints because of its strength. We’d then move on to the Palace Bars and then the Pier, which had an extension until 11pm.”

“Beaconsfield was my local for some time in the 60s(?). We played shove-penny in this pub which, as opposed to shove-ha’penny It was a game only found in Hastings and Eastbourne. Apart from the different coins both games were the same. Bull was another version of the same game played on a larger, extended board. Some players used to cheat by rubbing a chestnut, which they kept in their pocket. Handling the penny after rubbing the chestnut somehow effected its performance. Players smoothed one side of their pennies by heating the coin until it was about to collapse and dropped it onto wood to make a mould. A cold penny was then put into the mould. Fine emery cloth or a surface grinder was used to smooth it, always on the tail side as it was illegal to deface the Queen’s head. This enabled a player to have pennies of unequal weights, giving each coin its own characteristic. When playing a match each team had its own pennies and they were all weighed at the start by the landlord. Most pubs treated their shove-penny board with paraffin, water or beer and cleaned it with either newspaper or a beer mat. There was a tontine savings club operating in Beaconsfield Road. I can’t remember where. I don’t think it was connected to the pub.”

Tower:  As a retired bus driver I know that the Tower was popular with bus crews at one time. The story is told that although it was bus company policy that staff could not drink in pubs in their uniform, there were some pubs where this rule was ignored. On one occasion the Tower landlord, following policy, refused to serve a bus crew who later returned to the pub out of uniform. They ordered a round of 12 pints and then told the landlord to put his beer ‘where the monkey put his nuts’.”

“The Wheatsheaf was also one of the stops on my bus route. The Maidstone and District Bus Company held their reunion socials in the upstairs room in the Carlisle. Mary my wife did the catering for about 30 members about eight years ago. It possibly had 2,000 members.”

“Old King John: This was my local in the 1960s and 70s. It was a very busy and popular pub with small bars, a narrow passageway and a steep staircase. Because the landlady Flo was asthmatic, I occasionally took over the bar for her. I remember once I had a pint at twelve o’ clock and I hadn’t finished it at two because I was so busy serving. I also played in the darts team, which was in the Fremlins League in and around the pubs of Hastings. I remember a memorable match against Denny Gower in the London Trader that I won. My wife Mary played in the ladies team.”

“Royal Albion: My memories of the Royal Albion are from the 1980s. Nearly all the customers were visitors or holidaymakers, particularly in the summer. There was a good bar pianist who played in the then popular boogie woogie style of Winifred Atwell, which pulled the customers in. The pub was tied to Youngers Brewery of Edinburgh and was their most southerly pub. This link with Scotland explains the bagpipes behind the bar and the tartan designs set into the wall panels.”

“Cinque Ports Arms in the early 80s was a gay pub and the Alexandra was a lesbian pub. [The Alexandra welcomed Pat Dunn and her friends as older ladies.] I went in the Alexandra, as it was the only place that sold Holstein lager from Hamburg.”


Jim Davidson 2.12.2008 by phone

“My parents took over the Cambridge in 1946. Before that they had the George in Robertsbridge. I was brought up in the pub from the age of eight and took it over from my parents in 1961 with my wife Di. The Cambridge became a very popular pub. At one time the brewery lorries from Maidstone would carry enough beer for four Hastings pubs. At the height of our popularity we used to have a lorry load of beer to ourselves.”
    “Many different people used the pub. All of the Hastings Trade Union branches met in the upstairs room. These included ASLEF (the train drivers union), railwaymen, taxi drivers and others. The printers chapels from the Observer had always met there. Numerous societies and clubs also met upstairs including the Cage Birds Society and the Hastings Hill Walkers. At one time when the Roman Catholic Church banned mass being held in Latin, the local congregation hired the big room and held mass there. At first we didn’t know what they were doing but they met there for about two years and had a drink afterwards. Ed Burra, John Banting, George Melly and other artists were all customers at one time. When George turned up you didn’t know if he would be with a girl friend or boy friend.”
    “Another customer in the 1970s was the editor of the Observer, Gary Chapman. The Cambridge was one of his favourite pubs. We were having problems with the high rent charged by the brewery at the time and Gary Chapman wrote some criticism about the brewers in the paper. The brewers didn’t want negative publicity and ‘encouraged’ us to move, which we did in 1982 when we moved to the Railway in St Leonards. Some years before us Carl Burton was landlord of the Railway.”


Julian Deeprose e-mails, August 2010

See The Pubs of Hastings & St Leonards

Pat Dunn, 19.02.09 White Rock Hotel, 02.09 Dripping Spring, 27.02.09 by phone

“I was bought up in St Leonards and the Royal and the Railway were two pubs used by my family. My parents drank in the Royal saloon bar from about 1926 and I used to go there as a child. I was allowed to sit in the corner with a lemonade if I kept quiet. I started drinking there in about 1945. It had 3 bars – a large public bar, a small private bar and the more upmarket saloon. What used to happen in the Royal was the men who worked in the station used the public bar during the week but on Saturdays they got all dressed up to meet the ladies in the saloon bar.”
    “My family also used the Railway during the war years and after. I think it was just one bar and a bottle and jug. My mother told me that when the sirens went off during an air raid they would all go down into the cellar.  That’s when she started drinking pints so she didn’t run out.”
    “In the 1960s it was run by Carl and Judy Burton and in the 1970s Frank and Nancy had it. At some point Harold Pyecroft, the international diver, was landlord. [Licensees Register says Alfred Pyecock: 1949-1964. I believe the date is correct but obviously one of these names is wrong - David] After the war both pubs were used by the Regal Theatre [now Ocean House office block] stars who performed in the variety shows there. The most famous of which was Hutch, the famous crooner. In the 1980s Jim and Di Davidson ran the Railway. It was a very well run pub and Di was a no nonsense landlady. I remember Bill Elf drinking with friends at 11am – one hour before opening time. When a policeman came in Bill said that this was a committee meeting of the Underwater Sky Diving Team.”
    “I also used the Palace Bars in the late 1940s. It was a very smart place with a headwaiter called Louis. I also used French’s, then called Henecky’s. Michael Trubshaw, a bit part actor, was licensee” [manager] “for a while. He was a friend of David Niven and I think had small parts in The Guns of Navarone and a Hard Days Night. Later he became the landlord of the Mermaid in Rye.”
    “At the other end of Western Road is the Prince of Wales, still there and going strong; just a little friendly back street pub. In the 1950s they did bed and breakfast. They had a sign up ‘B&B 7/6d’ and the landlady played piano. She really pumped it out. For about 18 months from 1999 to 2000 I worked there as a barmaid, I enjoyed it very much. One of the characters was known as Nobby No Toes. He had lost his toes in an operation.”
    “The personality about Hastings and St Leonards in the 1960s and 70s was darts champion Denny Gower. He also played bass guitar in a group. I saw him play in the Fishermen’s Club in Old Town and probably in the Warriors Gate. In my opinion he was a much better darts player than a musician.”
    “The pubs were so different then. They were very much a part of life. But the only pub I would go into on my own was the Royal. I knew the landlord didn’t allow anyone to get mouthy or anything. But not the public bar on my own. I went into pubs to drink when I was 16 [1946]. My first drink was ginger wine. But as a child I was allowed in, sit in the corner, keep quiet and they turned a blind eye.”
    “Later I played ‘shove’ in the British Queen [the recently closed Fox]. It had a lovely shovepenny board. Eric Apps, headmaster of Christchurch school in London Road had the nickname Spitty Apps because he used to spit on the shovepennies. We played on a Bull board here. Bull board had a circle in the centre of the extension (called the Bull) in the 10th bed. We had to get three coins in all the beds as in shovepenny, but also three coins in the Bull.”


Michael Errey by phone 1/10/2010

See The Pubs of Hastings & St Leonards.


Ron Fellows 13.07.2010 at Kenilworth Road

“I come from an old Hastings family, the Fellows family, which have had many historical connections with Hastings pubs over the years. Here’s an advert for G J Fellows’s, ‘Licensed Victuallers Bar Fitter and Pewterer’. They were at 78, 79 Queens Road where they manufactured beer engines and lamps supplied to many Hastings pubs.”
   “There was a Fellows’s lamp in the Granville for many years. Note the ad states ‘References to many houses where Fellows’s Beer Engines are in use’. That was my great grandfather (born 1837). I’d like to put a date to this ad. It’s about 1870? Am trying to remember where it came from.”
   “I have a photograph in my possession of the interior of the Dun Horse, Halton in 1931. It’s a photograph of the Games Committee Annual Dinner. My father, Arthur Fellows, born 1894, was chairman of that committee. From left to right he’s fifth on the right in the photo. The one wearing the glasses and the wing collar. [See pub photos.]”

Terry Huggins from Pub Memories -1066online.com

See The Pubs of Hastings & St Leonards


Phillip Littlejohn by phone, May(?) 2010

“My grandfather Alexander Littlejohn was landlord of the Crown public house, Hastings, a century ago. He had previously been landlord of the Rising Sun in Chalfont. He was a Freemason (and a ‘Buff’) which might have had a bearing on the fact that later, he was a survivor the Titanic disaster. After perhaps eight years at the Crown he left Hastings and decided to go to sea as a first class steward. His first trip was to New York and then in 1912 he sailed on the ill-fated maiden voyage of the Titanic.”
    “However, he was lucky and was ordered to row lifeboat 13, possibly by an officer who was a Freemason. Anyway he survived and returned to the UK to tell his story. You can read it all in my book Titanic Waiting For Orders. I was in the Crown in 1998[?] and was very surprised to find the then landlord, Alex Napier, ex-drummer with the band Uriah Heep, kept a replica Titanic brass bell behind the bar on which he called time. This was pure coincidence, he had never heard of my grandfather.”


Mrs Dot Mitchell at her home in Bohemia 5.08.2010

Mrs Mitchell, nee Florence Haffenden, but known as Dot, was born in 1931. She is the owner of a brass spittoon, which has been in the family a very long time. She said: “I am the niece of Walter Haffenden”, [the last landlord of the Dorset Arms, Duke Road]. “My knowledge of the pub is very little – because I believe it closed many years before I was born. All my family came from the Duke Road area years ago. But I have this brass spittoon which I use as a flowerpot in the bathroom. It’s been in my family all my life and before. My elder brother told me that they used to spit in it and then spin it around before the next person used it. I don’t know why they did that. So I suppose it’s antique.”
    [The spittoon is unmarked and undated. Not turned or cast but ‘spun’ metal. See photographs in pub gallery.]


Michael Monk September 2008 in the Dripping Spring, and by phone

“In 1977 or 1978 I think it was, the Commonwealth Conference was being held in London. Among the delegates, the first president of the Seychelles, James Mancham, learned that he had been deposed by a coup d’etat. Obviously he couldn’t immediately return so he and his delegation stayed in Hastings until it was safe to do so. I don’t know where they stayed but five or six Ministers of the Seychelles Islands government drank in the British Queen saloon bar and we spent many an evening in their company. It was quite friendly and relaxed and there was never any question of racism or anything like that. I think they stayed in Hastings for about two years. But they must have eventually returned.”


Cyril Pelluet, Brighton History Centre 12.11.2008
See The Pubs of Hastings & St Leonards.


Michael Rose, 19.02.09 at the White Rock, 02.09 at the Dripping Spring and by phone on 01.03.09.

See The Pubs of Hastings & St Leonards.


Peter Skinner at Kenilworth Road 3.06.2008 interviewed on tape.

“My name is Peter Skinner. I was born in 1949 and raised in Hastings. Between 1965 and 1970 for four years I worked on the Hastings Observer as an indentured trainee reporter. That period covered the end of ‘hot metal’ in the print where each page was set in linotype 30 feet long, each page was set up as a metal page lined with wood to hold it firmly in place on a bed called the ‘stone’.  If the paper had 30 pages you had 30 metal blocks, the exact size, all laid out on the stone, which would be inserted into machines to print the paper. It was a heavily unionised period. The printers were all members of the various printing unions, I was a member of the NUJ. It was very regimented. The sub-editors supervised the pages to see they were properly laid out, the photographs were in the right place and the headlines were where you wanted them. The sub-editors and the journalists were allowed to stand on one side of this giant long stone while the printers stood on the other side. You were not allowed to cross to the printer’s side, that would have been a major error. If you did cross to their side they would stop work. It was simply a demonstration of power I suppose. It made life very laborious. If you wanted to change a headline they would literally have to hammer out all the metal and put in a new block of metal. Everything that was done went back to the 18th century craftwork. This all took place in the old Observer building. They printed and bound books and a series of other newspapers – the Sussex Herald for example – printing everyday of the week – a busy company.”
    “We journalists finished on Friday around mid-day and used the pub next door – the Cambridge – used by the printers and journalists. Nobody else used it come to think of it, the clerical staff, the sales staff, they didn’t use the Cambridge or, if they did they went into the saloon bar. We only used the public bar. Never in four years did I use the saloon bar. I don’t remember using the big upstairs room either. There was another big room behind the bar at the back. The printers went into the Cambridge at lunchtimes and had baked potatoes. This was an innovation, 20p for a potato, 20p for a pint of lager.”
    “One of the regulars was a guy called Frank Rhoden who ran the Hastings International Chess Congress – one of the two or three biggest in the world. Because of Frank all the Soviet grand masters and people who were legends in the chess world came to the Cambridge during the Congress. They dressed up as English parsons, grey flannel trousers and tweed jackets and pipes. They did this because they had a notion of what the middle classes in England were like and they aped it. All these Grand Masters sitting there looking like country parsons. They wandered down because Frank was the organiser, they came to an English pub and they would play chess with other customers. I played with a number of them.”
    “Probably because of Frank, there was a thriving chess community there every day. I played chess at lunchtimes with printers or other journalists – often three or four games of chess going on. Jim (the landlord) kept the boards, he was a very easy going and likable guy. There were a lot of knowledgeable players. The other thing, it was only 250 yards from the Hastings Chess Club, the only club in Britain which had its own building in Cambridge Road and which opened from 1pm to 11pm every day of the week. The players would walk down to the Cambridge. I don’t remember a chess team. I wasn’t a bad player but a team? More like a bunch of ramshackle semi-drunks playing other pubs. They played the London Transport team, which still plays at the Hastings Chess club once a year.”
    “Every year during the tournament – the club has a tournament in one of the pubs along the seafront. I think it’s in the Carlisle, a knockout competition that attracts a great many players so that the tradition of pubs and chess in Hastings continues to this day. Every year it’s a major event that coincides with the International Chess Tournament.”
    “Hastings has a great chess tradition. I played with Smysloff and a Dutch player whose name I can’t remember. All the great players of the 60s would come in and play. Some of them would play everybody in the pub at the same time without even thinking about it. But they loved the notion of the pub – an English pub. It also had a thriving darts community in the back room.”
    “It was a great community, printers, artisans, and artists: Ed Burrough used the pub regularly and several other known artists came in and drank there regularly, an eclectic mix: printers, journalists, artists, chess players and darts players. It really was a socially mixed pub. There was no notion of class.  Everybody went into the public bar. In three years I never went into the Saloon bar, I can’t even say what it was like. At the time it didn’t seem very Bohemian but looking back I don’t think it would happen now. There were a number of very visible gay people dressed up with make up. This was before homosexuality was legal yet I don’t remember anybody remarking on it. It wasn’t a topic of conversation and that was 1965–1966 when you could go to jail. We never went into the pub next door, the Dripping Well, we were very loyal to the Cambridge. You didn’t ‘decide’ to go to the Cambridge, you just went to the Cambridge.”
    “We also used to frequent the pubs in the Old Town but none of them were like the Cambridge. None of them had that slightly seedy, intellectual quality. We young journalists and reporters had a routine. We were paid about noon on Fridays when the paper had been put to bed, so our job for the week was over. They paid us in little brown envelopes. I got £6.15s and then we would set off. We would go to the Queen’s Hotel first and would always have three Pimm’s Number One which for us was a reference to being rich, a posh drink. We had got this money, our wages and we could go into the Queen’s bar sober but we knew we would be completely unsober in anticipation of it all.”
    “Then we would walk to the Old Town – to George Street – mainly to the Anchor, the Pump House and the Lord Nelson. I think we would drink about 15 pints over a period of time say from 1pm to about one in the morning. Twelve hours of drinking but we were young and stupid and it was not uncommon. The Pump House was more middle class, more conventional, salesmen, people on the make, a place to meet women. In the Cambridge we never picked up women but the Pump House was the pub to meet women. I met my first long time girl friend there who was a student from Norway. I spilled some lager over her because I was drunk and that led to one thing and another. We lived together for 10 years.”
    “Across the road the Anchor was a rougher pub, more arty and singing. A more jolly atmosphere but not so good for meeting women. We never saw the Pump House as a very old pub even though it had mock beams and so on. The Anchor seemed older with its warren of little rooms. The Pump House was a harbinger of things to come, a little artificial, a little more knowing and commercial than the other pubs in that area. It was a nice pub, always a little different, not rough and more friendly. Women found it more friendly.”
    “We did use the Hastings Arms but it wasn’t one of our regulars; it didn’t attract young people. When we were very drunk we went to the Lord Nelson which was a wild pub. If it was the same today they’d close it down. There was a lot of folk singing, a lot of villainous characters and very exciting when you were drunk. A lot of fishermen drank there. They didn’t really mix with other groups in the town – always a group unto themselves.”
    “I don’t remember much drug dealing in the 60s. Cannabis was relatively rare, the drug of choice was amphetamines: Black Bombers, Speed. Cannabis came in the late 60s. There were people who took heroin but they were regarded as social outcasts, mysterious, strange and depraved. Nothing glamorous at all.”
    “As you enter George Street the pub on the right, the Royal Albion had a Scottish theme, it was always very, very Scottish. Quite a nice pub but not very popular with youth at the time. We also visited the FILO and the Jenny Lind. The Jenny Lind was usually very packed, very Old Town working class.”
    “We erred on the side of the Mods. I didn’t know any Rockers. I only met Rockers a couple of years later and found them quite nice people. But at that time they were demonised figures, never called bikers, always Rockers. In your own mind they were uneducated, violent dangerous people who didn’t have any GCEs whereas the Mods were a more aspiring sort of trained class. They put a lot of energy into society. They were very interested in design, clothes, jazz and blues. They were very open to these influences which were not essentially English. They didn’t drink a lot. They went into pubs of course but drink wasn’t central to their culture. Drugs were. They didn’t have the intensity of the drinking experience and they were very much into amphetamines.”
    “We used to go to the PamDor, wonderful, wonderful place. It was fabulous and it played such magnificent music. It was so cool. It was opposite the cinema, near where Jessops is now. You went upstairs, there were two rooms where they played the most magnificent music: cool blues, Mary Wells, the Ronettes, things like that, nothing English. A brilliant place, I loved it. It had the Mod vibe to it.”
    “Sometimes we drank in the Central but only at lunch times. It wasn’t very popular. Remember at that time there was no shopping centre just the cricket ground. The town centre didn’t have the social density it has now. The number of people in the town centre was lower, all those shops didn’t exist. The area was quieter than now. I remember the Central as old, Victorian and semi-empty. They didn’t serve the baked potatoes. Instead they had little warm cabinets with steak and kidney pies wrapped in cellophane and pickled onions. It wasn’t a fashionable pub. Nearly all our social scene was in the Old Town.”
    “The Bodega was a nice pub, we went there quite a lot. It was a very civilised place. Local solicitors drank there, sherry and things like that. But again we only went at lunch times.”
    “The very lively social scene in Hastings centred around music. The big rock bands used to tour around the seaside towns. We saw the Who, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks a number of times on the Pier and the Animals. Some of the pubs like the Chatsworth on the seafront used to have live blues bands. They all played in the pubs. There was a very strong music tradition, all rhythm and blues, heavily Americanised. A very lively social scene absolutely soaked in music. Quite a lot of jazz as well which didn’t interest me quite as much. What interests me now is the heavily Americanised rhythm and blues and how it came to this little seaside town. But it did and it was very strong.”
    “One group which appeared in Hastings at the time was the ‘National Teens’ who played at the Witch Doctor in Marine Court. The Witch Doctor was a very ‘druggy’ club and the Mods would go there. You went up to the first floor to a huge ballroom where they had very big name bands. The floor was a mixture of different coloured Perspex tiles with lights under them. It was getting into the psychedelic period. I remember once the police raided it. They turned the lights on and the whole floor was covered in what I first thought were ‘Dolly Mixtures’. But they were all pills that people had thrown out of their pockets. The whole floor was covered in drugs. I thought ‘crikey’ I hadn’t been aware of that level of drug taking. Black Bombers were very powerful. When I first took a Black Bomber I walked to Tunbridge Wells and back without stopping.”


Ian Smallwood by email January 2010

8th January 2010

Good morning Ian.
My licensees register for the Prince of Wales, Bohemia lists the following:

J A May                1934–1940
gap                      1941–1946
Mrs Berwick         1946–1948

The gap between 1941–1946 could be me just being cautious when I copied it down? I will recheck and let you know. Otherwise it fits in with what you told me on the phone.
Can you remind me what relation you are to Roland Berwick if any and I think you mentioned an elderly lady in Silverhill? The reason I ask is that we are now running a ‘Pub Memories’ project collecting information on all Hastings publicans, barmaids, customers etc past and present.
I hope we can include your investigation of Roland ‘Jack’ Berwick and Maggie Berwick and their time at the Prince of Wales.
Regards David (Russell)


8th January 2010

Good afternoon David
Thank you very much for your research so far, most helpful.
Roland Jack Berwick was my partner Lesley’s great grandfather, his daughter Lena still lives in Silverhill, indeed it was in the Prince of Wales that Lena met Norman, later her husband, on his return from a German POW camp in 1945. In 1947 Lesley’s mother was born in the pub.
Jack Berwick was by all accounts a very colourful character, he was born in Rotherfield near Crowborough, he served in the 1st World War, later had a coach building/painting business in Whitehill Road, Crowborough, situated where the Waitrose supermarket is now. At some point in the late 1920s he became a gentleman’s gentleman to an American millionaire living on the Isle of Wight, he travelled to America, New Zealand and Australia with the Captain, as his employer was known.
Following the Captain’s death on a trip to Australia Jack returned to the UK and we believe had a sweet shop in Worthing. Later he was the landlord of a pub called The Elephant and Castle in Goods Station Road, Tunbridge Wells (now an interior designers), then came to the Prince of Wales where he died in 1946. The licence was then taken on for a couple of years by his widow Maggie May.
Norman and Lena I believe for a while had the licence of the FILO, but I will have to check that out next time we see them.
Hope this helps a bit
Thanks once again.
Ian


10 January 2010

Hi Ian,
Thanks for the e-mail. You certainly have an interesting Hastings pub family whose history should be recorded.
I’ve gone back to the sources and it seems that in 1940 there were 33 licence transfers and that the reporter wasn’t able to record them in the local press! So the P of W is not mentioned by name but must be one of the 33.
Lesley’s mother (name?) and Lena (and Norman if he is still around?) would be good links to Roland’s time. Do you think Lena (and/or Norman) are prepared to have their memories recorded via your good self?
This was a pub in wartime and some of the things of interest would be: air raids, anti aircraft guns on the top of buildings ie the tower building in South Park Road, the curfew, blackout, a drastic decline in population because of evacuation, no visitors, poor beer supplies etc etc. All factors making life in the pub difficult and different.
And then the immediate post-war; I’ll bet Norman’s POW experience was a talking point in the bar? Did Lena live/work there?
Also, very importantly, are there any photographs in existence? Are there any pictures of Roland/Maggie May, Lena/Norman or Leslie’s mother?  Or any of the Prince of Wales inside or out from that time?
And then the FILO!  Tell me what you think ? Is this enough to get started?
Regards David.


21st January 2010

Hi David
A little more information for you.
Lesley’s mother (the one that was born in the POW) was speaking to her parents yesterday evening and has found a little bit more about the pubs.
1) Roland Jack Berwick was the licensee of the FILO 1945-46. He was hoping that his son Frank would take over the pub when he was de-mobbed, however Frank was not interested and it fell to Lena, Rolands daughter, to run the pub.
Lena was not happy at the FILO because of the spitting!
Her husband Norman was not very involved in running the pub because he was working full time as a carpenter for a local company.
2) Norman’s older brother, Bill Sendall, met his future wife, Doris Hallett, in the Yorkshire Grey PH, 2 London Road St Leonards on Sea, where she was playing the piano. Norman believes that Bill and his wife Doris went on to run the Yorkshire Grey for a while.
Lesley has found some old advertising photographs of the Yorkshire Grey in her collection of family photos, external and internal shots. I will have a go at scanning them for you. Should think they were taken in the 1930s or 40s.
We are trying to encourage Norman and Lena and perhaps Frank to write down their memories – let you know how we get on.
Regards
Ian


21st January 2010

Hi Ian,
Thanks to you (and Leslie) for your efforts.
Two immediate thoughts:
Do you mean that Jack Berwick was landlord of the Prince of Wales from 1940-4 and then landlord of the FILO from 1945-6?
It would probably be easier to tape Norman and Lena rather than get them to write their memories down. I have a small dictaphone which might be useful if you want it? But on the other hand if they want to write their memories down please encourage them.
Excellent and thank you thus far.
Regards David


22nd January 2010

Hi David
Thanks for getting back to me, we are doing our best to encourage Norman and Lena to record their memories in one way or another, will let you know how we get on.
Roland Jack Berwick, from what Lena has told me was, landlord of the of the POW until his death in 1946 when his wife Maggie May Berwick took over, he also I believe held the licence for the FILO 1945/46 concurrently.
Does that make sense?
Regards
Ian


23rd January 2010

Ian,
Can you tell me Lena and Norman’s surname and when they left the FILO approximate year please?
Thanks David


23rd January 2010

Hi David
Norman and Lena Sendall, and I believe that they left the FILO at some point in 1946, but I’m sure that we will find out more soon.
Thanks
Ian
[Later I checked the Hastings Borough Petty Sessions Register for the 1940s. Norman Sendall was the licensee of the FILO from 1945 to 1947. But no mention of Roland Berwick.]


    “Another photo in my possession is of my aunt and uncle, Frederick and Edith Standen who were the licensees of the Clarence, Middle Street during the last war to 1950. In this photo they are standing outside the Clarence on the corner where the main doorway is now. Their cat and dog accompany them!” [See pub photos.] “After the Clarence they moved to the White Hart on the Rye Road.”
    “My family and I moved to Middle Street in 1939 and I remember the Volunteer was two doors away from the Clarence. Teddy Booth was landlord of the Volunteer after the war (1949–1951) and was regarded as the youngest landlord in the town at that time. He was 20. As a teenager at least, Teddy Booth lived with my auntie and uncle in the Clarence. I believe they sort of fostered him and probably helped him get into the Volunteer.”
    “I was a member of the Royal Sussex Regiment whose badge was shown on the sign of the Royal Sussex Arms. The badge was made up of all the others into the Queens Regiment. Unfortunately, we lost the Roussillon Plume as the Middlesex Regiment had the Prince of Wales feathers in their cap badge. We came by the Roussillon Plume at the Battle of Quebec on the 13th September 1759. The name came from a French Regiment, the Royal Roussillon Regiment. The surrender of the Roussillon Plume was made after the battle was won. The Royal Sussex Regiment Head Quarters was at Roussillon Barracks Chichester, West Sussex. The Barracks are now in the hands of The Royal Military Police. The Regimental Associations are still going strong. Hastings & District Branch used to meet in the Royal Sussex Arms, having moved around quite a bit.”
    “It was the Hastings Branch who reported to R H Q on the condition of the badge on the inn sign out side the public house and the badge on the outside of the old Drill Hall in Bexhill. These two badges were refurbished and the bar of the Royal Sussex Arms was decorated in the Regimental Colours. All this was paid for by Royal Sussex, R H Q.”
    The inn sign of the Royal Sussex Arms is now in the Redoubt Museum Eastbourne.


Marie and Alan Garaty by phone 9/03/09 and their home in Hastings 16/3/09

“We were the licensees of the Princes pub in South Terrace from 1977 to 1981. It’s now called Pissarro’s. It was our only pub. At that time there were two bars a public bar and a saloon bar. Next door where the pub restaurant is now was a furniture depository. Its employees were regular customers in the public bar. The other end of the building in South Terrace was a private house.”
    “We left in 1981 because we couldn’t develop the pub further. There wasn’t space for a children’s room then coming into demand nor was there any outside space for a beer garden. But we had a very good four or five years there. After that we ran a restaurant.”
    “When they decided to let us take over the pub, I [Marie] received training from Whitbread’s the brewers on how to deal with unruly customers ie drunken men. The theory was that men wouldn’t hit a woman but would attack a landlord. We didn’t really get any trouble. I remember only a few occasions I had to deal with drunks. One man staggered in one night – we knew him – and I simply said ‘you don’t look too good. You’d be better off at home in bed’. He looked at me for a moment, agreed and then walked out. But the customers were generally very supportive.”
    “We organised pram races, a Hastings to Eastbourne cycle race, and a ‘Swear Box’ in the public bar. That box took a lot of money. All proceeds went to the disabled children’s ward in St Helen’s Hospital.”
    “We also ran a Gun Club for clay pigeon shooting on Sundays which was popular.”
    “Alan, my husband, persuaded Whitbread’s to alter the Princes sign. They repainted it so that the princes were no longer holding hands.”


Trefor Holloway by phone 24.06.09

See The Pubs of Hastings & St Leonards

Minnie Howlett, telephone interview, November 2009

See The Pubs of Hastings & St Leonards

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