Carlisle Parade Underground Car Park

From Historical Hastings Wiki


At the time of its opening in 1931 by Sir Hilton Young (Minister for Health)[1], the Carlisle Parade Underground Car Park constructed at a cost of £154,000[1] was the first underground car-parking facility in the United Kingdom.

Construction and design[edit]

The Borough Engineer, Sidney Little was required to find a solution to providing provision for cars to be parked near Hastings seafront without them blocking the sea views and his preferred medium of concrete provided a solution by means of enabling the car-park to be underneath the road surface.

The scheme he proposed required 70 feet of land to be reclaimed from the beach to construct a road almost ¾ of a mile long to carry traffic along the seafront past what was originally a cul-de-sac outside the Queens Hotel. The sea wall constructed acted as the outer shell of a space measuring 1,250 feet long for the underground car park.[1]

Two ramps lead down to Carlisle Parade car park’s entrance (a third ramp from Harold Place is now used as pedestrian access to part of the car-park functioning as a subway under the coast road), and cars are prevented from accidentally driving down off Carlisle Parade and into the voids by a decorative parapet wall and balustrade, of fluted concrete panels. The detailing of these panels is an example of how Little put the care and attention to detail into many of his designs. Above ground, there is a sunken garden with vents for extraction of the exhaust fumes cunningly disguised as shelters. There was a rumoured proposal to elevate the lawns/gardens adjacent to Robertson Terrace to provide space for a large conference hall to be located underground[2]

WW2 Usage[edit]

The shelter was used as an air raid shelter and first aid post during WW2

Murder - Suicide[edit]

Whilst walking through the car park from the Memorial entrance on the 14th of September 1941, a local resident saw what he took to be a long stream of blood coming from an area formerly used as a first aid post. Following this trail, he came across the semi-naked body of 74 year old Helen Jones, a former dressmaker. Miss Jones who was profoundly deaf had been bombed out of her house earlier in the war and had taken to sleeping in the car park. Underneath her head was a forage cap and near the body a valise strap. She was known to prefer the area that was used as a first aid post.[3]

Some hours later, the body of a soldier, Private McCoughlin was discovered in the boat-house at the opposite end of the car park. He had last been seen around midnight by another serviceman and was noted to be missing his forage cap and appeared pale. The Private's body was discovered soon after lunch-time[notes 1] when the serviceman who last saw him went to fetch his rifle from the rack for cleaning and found it missing. The missing weapon was lying on a bench in the adjacent boat-house, supported by two large tins with the muzzle pointing in the direction of McCouglin's body. All evidence pointed to McCoughlin having arranged the weapon in such a way as to commit suicide. Two notes were left, one which read Dear Dad, Something came over me this tie. There is no other road out, but don't worry, everything is for the best - Bill. The second note stated I am no good to you and never was.[3]

Private McCoughlin's forage cap and a valise strap were found to be missing - these were indeed the items found with Miss Jones' body. In addition, there were numerous blood stains on his tunic, some of his blood type and some of hers.[3]

At the inquest conducted in the Town Hall on the 17th of September 1941, the jury convened for an inquest into the deaths returned a verdict that the soldier, Private James William McCoughlin raped and murdered Miss Jones and then committed suicide whilst of unsound mind.[3]

Pedestrian Underpass[edit]

In 1972, the eastern end of the car park was partitioned off and construction of a pedestrian underpass started. This added entrances on the seaward side of the car park and also outside the Queens Hotel. The previous vehicle entrance ramp from Harold Place became the third entrance to the underpass, this explaining its increased dimensions compared to the other entries.



  1. Hastings Police History states that he committed suicide when he discovered the police were looking for him

Grade II Listed (Historic England listing 1400579) :;Harold Place;1931 :;Carlisle Parade;1931 :;Robertson Terrace;1931


  1. a b c Hastings & St Leonards Observer 6 March 1937 pg. 14
  2. Hastings & St Leonards Observer 06 June 1931
  3. a b c d Hastings & St Leonards Observer 20 September 1941 pg. 1