Saturday, 14 March 2015

Hastings to Bexhill On Sea Walk on Friday 13th March 2015

On Friday the 13th March 2015 was the date Dan,Andy and I were to set off for another walk on The Kent coastline Broadstairs to Sandwich. But due to Dan working late the night before he couldn't make it. So I decided to walk Hastings to Bexhill On Sea,East Sussex with Andy and myself so Dan can complete the Kent coastline with me.
We arrived in Hastings a lot quicker than I thought and parked up off the Old London Road in Asnbourne Road where there was free parking. However we learnt once we got down to the Old Town the car park down by the far end was only £3 for 24 hrs rising to £7 for 24 hrs further along the beach! Still we added on about a mile to the walk. As we walked down the Old London Road we came across an old Lifeboat the "Priscilla MacBean" .
 The boat, a 35-foot self righting motor lifeboat, the first to be designed for beach-launching and was constructed at Cowes by J. Samuel White and delivered to Eastbourne in 1921, the greater part of the boat’s cost having been met by a legacy from the late Mr Edward Macbean of Glasgow. Priscilla MacBean was the first lifeboat to come to the south east coast that was equipped with sails, oars and a complete revolution, an engine! The Eastbourne Fishermen who were crew for the boat had no confidence in what they called the "new-fangled engine" so they continued to row and sail everywhere the same way they did their own fishing boats. Eventually it was decided that this type of lifeboat was unsuitable for use in the English Channel and she was transferred to Kirkcudbright in 1928 and on to Maryport in 1931 where she stayed until 1934. Out of service she became ‘Laurita’ in France and later, almost back to Maryport, appearing on Lake Windemere before heading south again some 20 years ago - so, not a straight retirement from Eastbourne to a nearby field!

Andy finds the road for Him...Douch's Passage.
 A little further along the Old London road (A259) we come across the Oldest Building In Hastings,

This is believed to be the oldest building in Hastings and possibly the original court hall constructed c. 1450

Historically Hastings can claim fame through its connection with the Norman conquest of England and because it became one of the medieval Cinque Ports. Hastings was, for centuries, an important fishing port; although nowadays less important, it still has the largest beach-based fishing fleet in England. The town became a popular spot for 'taking the waters' (therapeutic bathing in the sea) in the 1760s, and then, with the coming of the railway, a seaside resort.

We arrive down in The Old Town of Hastings, I haven't been here for years and always brings back fond memories of my Mum and Dad bringing me here to visit my Grandad.
Hastings Old Town is an area in Hastings, roughly corresponding to the extent of the town prior to the nineteenth century.
  We reached an area known as Winkle Island where there is a sculpture of a winkle.

 Winkle Island is at the heart of Hastings Old Town in East Sussex, England, in the United Kingdom. The traffic island is part of a unique area in Hastings called 'The Stade' (the old Saxon term for 'landing place') and the stretch of shingle beach from which Hastings' famous fishing fleet has been launched every day for over a thousand years.
 Winkle Island is located at the foot of All Saints Street at its junction with Rock-A-Nore Road at Hastings seafront. The small island is the central meeting point for many outdoor events such as the Hastings Hastings Old Town Week, and Jack In The Green. It is also the symbolic gathering place of the Winkle Club, an internationally famous charitable organization, as well as many other local artistic events and street performances. A sculpture of a giant winkle, a marine gastropod, stands on the pavement and is used as a collecting box for charity purposes.

  The shingle beach known as The Stade (the old Saxon term meaning "landing place") is home to the biggest beach-launched fishing fleet in Britain. Many events take place every year in the old town such as the Hastings Old Town Week, Jack In The Green, the Seafood and Wine Festival, and the Bonfire Procession. Many of these events are centred on Winkle Island, which is, at the same time, the gathering place of the renowned Winkle Club.
 The Net Shops are tall black wooden sheds which were built to provide a weather-proof store for the fishing gear made from natural materials to prevent them from rotting in wet weather. The sheds were originally built on posts to allow the sea to go underneath, however more shingle has built up and the sea no longer reaches the huts. The beach area on which the Sheds stand built up after groynes were erected in 1834, however the limited space meant the sheds had to grow upwards, even though some sheds do have cellars
 We passed many shed that sold fish, I was to buy some cockles to enjoy on the seafront, but never got round to it, always thinking there'll be another shop a little further on.

East Hill Cliff Railway, or East Hill Lift, is a funicular railway located in the English seaside town of Hastings. It provides access to Hastings Country Park via the East Hill, which overlooks the Old Town and Rock-a-Nore, an area to the east of Hastings. The line provides views over the Stade, home to the largest beach launched fishing fleet in Europe.
The line is owned and operated by Hastings Borough Council and has the following technical parameters
  • Length: 267 feet (81 m)
  • Gradient: 78%
  • Cars: 2
  • Capacity: 16 passengers per car
  • Configuration: Double track
  • Gauge: 5 ft (1,524 mm)
  • Traction: Electricity
The line was opened in 1903 by Hastings Borough Council. The line was originally operated on the water balance principle, and the twin towers of the upper station contained water tanks for this purpose. The line was modernised between 1973 and 1976, during which time it was converted to electric operation and new cars were provided.
The line was shut in June 2007 because of an incident where a fault in a control panel caused the cars to fail to stop at the correct point, resulting in damage to both cars and stations. In 2008, Hastings Borough Council decided on a major refurbishment involving new cars and new control and safety systems, together with repairs to the damaged stations.The line reopened in March 2010.
Following the closure of lines in Broadstairs and Margate, the East Hill Cliff Railway is now the steepest funicular railway in the United Kingdom. It is complemented by the West Hill Cliff Railway, giving visitors access to Hastings Castle and the Smugglers Adventure in St. Clements Caves.

 We reached The Fishermans Museum  on Rock-a-Nore Road which has Free entry but you can donate to help keep this open.

The museum is housed in a former church (dedicated to St Nicholas) which was built on the beach in 1854 to serve the local fishing community.  It operated as a church until 1930 but was turned into a museum in 1956 by the Old Hastings Preservation Society.

 We walked along the front past the minature railway and up into the town.

 We came across the Hastings Lifeboat Station, where we had a look around. Andy couldnt resist buying some herb covered nuts and spent the rest of the day wishing he'd bought more as they were only 50p a packet and were very morish.

 We now made our way along the front past the closed funfair as it is still the low season and many such attractions won't open until the day trippers come back with the weather.

 In the distance is Hastings Pier, still being reconstruted with funding from the national lottery.
Hastings Pier was a pleasure pier in Hastings, Built in 1872 and enjoying its prime in the 1930s, though becoming a popular music venue in the 1960s, it received major storm damage in 1990, closed to the public between 1999 and 2002, then closed again from 2006. Efforts continued to save the pier, which was in need of much investment. In the early hours of 5 October 2010 the pier suffered from a devastating fire (the second in its history) that destroyed 95% of its superstructure.

White Rock Theatre
 The original East Sussex Hospital was replaced with the White Rock Pavilion which was opened by Edward, Prince of Wales in April 1927. It was built for the Hastings Municipal Orchestra. The pavilion underwent a further re-modification in 1937 and again in 1985 when it was renamed the White Rock Theatre.
 The Theatre has seen a selection of entertainment over the years including Motörhead, Russell Brand, Hot Chocolate, Eartha Kitt, Al Murray, Geri Halliwell, Jools Holland, Derren Brown, Ricky Tomlinson, Tim Vine and Greg Davies just to name a few.

 You can see the work being carried out in the above picture and here on the website with a webcam.

 We continued along rthe beach and passed a covered seating area with its open windows acting as perfect frames for the views.

 We now enter St Leonards On Sea. The land that is now St Leonards was once owned by the Levett family, an ancient Sussex gentry family of Norman origin who owned the adjacent manor of Hollington, and subsequently by their descendants, the Eversfields, who rose to prominence from their iron foundries and widespread property holdings during Tudor times. Eversfields served as sheriffs of Surrey and Sussex in the 16th and 17th centuries and were later baronets before the family became extinct.

  We come to Labyrinth,.The Labyrinth is a community space situated at Lower Promenade, Warrior Square, St Leonards on Sea. The sign of which is cleverly made up of old bicycle parts.

 Almost oppositte is a piece of Artwork called "My Heart Belongs To Hastings".
The new interactive artwork was unveiled by Cllr Peter Chowney on 23rd September 2012 on the promenade at Goats Ledge in St. Leonards in Hastings. The new work has been constructed from reclaimed greenheart groyne timbers from nearby Pevensey Bay and is intended to become a destination for people to leave a padlock as a lasting and very personal souvenir of their time in Hastings. The artwork will grow as thousands more are attached to the sculpture's mooring rings by local people and visitors. Inspired by the global Love Locks phenomenon, the decorated padlocks will represent love tokens, mementoes and simple reminders of time spent in this creatively blossoming seaside town with its sunshine, southerly breezes and constantly changing seas and skies.
Apparently one of the locks is a Geocache for any of you's that are geocachers, should imagine it'd take a while to find it though.

A Turnstone

 We now reach Bulverhythe. Bulverhythe, also known as West St Leonards, Bo Peep, Filsham, West Marina, or Harley Shute .Its Esplanade and 15ft thick sea wall. Bulverhythe is translated as "Burghers' landing place".It used to be under a small headland called Gallows Head, which was washed away by flooding.
Bulverhythe village is located to the SouthWest of the area. The ancient village had a small harbour and pier, and is where the remains of the Amsterdam can be seen.
The village was once in the confederation of the Cinque Ports, under the 'Limb' of Hastings. It helped supply one ship together with Petit Ihamme (originally Pyppels Ham and now the village of Pebsham).

The Royal Victoria Hotel
 Oppositte The Royal Victoria Hotel was the site of St Leonard Pier. Construction of the pier began in March 1888, and it was opened by Lord and Lady Brassey on 28 October 1891. Positioned almost opposite the Royal Victoria Hotel, the shore end had a pavilion constructed of intricate ironwork at the entrance so that visitors could drive straight to the door and avoid the seafront weather. There was also a tollhouse to the left of the entrance that was demolished by a storm on 12 February 1899. The far end of the pier had a building used for dancing, and later as a roller hockey rink. During the 1920s the pier was modernised and finally cut in half during the Second World War as protection against invasion. The remains were removed in 1951.

We now see a slab of local sandstone that rests on a concrete plinth. A bronze plaque is fixed to a wooden support that sits on the stone. William the Conqueror is said to have used the slab as a table on landing in Sussex.

 William landed at Bulverhythe on 28 September 1066, building a fort in Hastings and engaging Harold Godwinson’s (c.1022–1066) armies seven miles north of Hastings on Senlac Hill, now the town of Battle on 14 October 1066. Harold was killed, it is said, by an arrow that struck him in the eye. The events of the day, subsequently known as The Battle of Hastings, are depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry.

This stone slab was also know as ‘Old Woman’s Tap’ or ‘Tapshaw / Tapshore’. It originally stood roughly at the bottom of Maze Hill and a spring / stream flowed over it (hence the name). It is possible that there, it was in the way of Burton’s development and he possibly invented the legend and moved it to be opposite the Royal Victoria Hotel on the seafront. A Hastings Guide of 1794, cited by J. Manwaring-Baines, states that the rock known as William the Conqueror's Table, was also known as 'Old Woman's Tap' and was in what is now known as St. Leonard's Gardens. A newspaper report from 1828 places the stone near the St. Leonard's Hotel. It was moved to near the entrance to the Pier some time in the 60s, perhaps in 1965/6, when the Triodome was erected on the Pier to house the newly-made Hastings Embroidery. At some later date it was moved back to St. Leonards seafront.

 A National cycle Path sign pointing the way and distances to Hastings and Bexhill. Behind it was a Pub called The Marina Fountain in hindsight we should of stopped here for a pint as pubs became very elusive on this walk.

 We passed a hillside of colourful houses that reminded me of the childrens program Balamorey. I now had that awful tune to the program stuck in my head for a while.

We now passed an area known as Glyne Gap.

 More fishing boats here are winched up onto the beach.

A look back towards Hastings with its pier still visible in the distance.

 Reaching Galley Hill,Bexhill On Sea,now and our first incline of the day.

 As we walk along this path we can see The Bull Inn a Shepherd Neame pub on our right, but can't see anyway off getting to it as the fence and railway behind it stretches on. We stop and ask a local man who said the next nearest pub is in Bexhill a mile away.

 We are now Entering Bexhill On Sea and nearing the end of the walk and more importantly nearing the pub.

 Town Mayor Cllr Peter Fairhurst's skeletal sculpture on De La Warr Parade depicting the car which won Britain's first international motorsport meeting  Tribute was paid to M. Leon Serpollet and the ''Easter Egg'' - the steam car of his own manufacture on which the French competitor won the Bexhill Motor Trials of 1902. Led by Old Town Preservation Society chairman Michael Kent on his 1899 Peugeot, a convoy of cars of the era motored the 1902 race route from Galley Hill to the Sackville.  The tubular sculpture is intended to give an ''impression'' of the Serpollet, complete with elliptical wheels.

The Serpolet Sculpture


 After some walking and asking about we found The Town House PH, there were two other places but they looked liked wine bars rather than a traditional pub.

Andy would like to point out the Lager Isnt his.
 Andy ordered a pint of Guinness and myself a pint of Coors in lieu of the fact they had no real ales on sale.
We finished these and decided to call it a day and head back to Hastings.
We passed a bakers and bought a sausage roll each to keep us going until we reached Hastings. I walked outside and was immedialtely attacked by a large Herring Gull trying to have my lunch. I was aware of its huge flapping wings beside my face whilst Andy stood there laughing!
We walked to the station, wondering how frequent the trains were, when a bus arrived. We jumped on this and paid £3.20 in cash (yes cash seems novel now London buses are cash free) to head back to Hastings. Andy said it should be a sceneric ride back. Was it hell, it was one Housing estate after another!!
We arrived back in Hastings after an exhilarating bus ride and headed back to the seafront via the town centre and the back lanes.

 We stopped off at the Blue Dolphin Fish Bar. Where we ordered Cod and Chips and a mug of Tea.
A huge plate of Fish n Chips arrived, lovely too, fresh and nice crsip batter. Slightly marred by the staff running out to school kids every couple of minutes shooing them away from the outside tables a they had only paid take away prices.

 All in all a pleasant day with good weather. About a 8 mile walk. We wondered back up the Old London Road to the car. With a heavy stomach full of food, we climbed the last steep hill and was back in the car.

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