Introduction[edit | edit source]
Mr H.W. Gutsell was a postman who had a round in the Hastings area during the 1880s and an article summing up his memoirs was published in the Hastings Observer dated 20th June 1931. His round apparently involved a daily walk of some 30 miles.
He wrote as follows:-
"These reminiscences are by one who has spent practically the whole of his eighty odd years in Hastings or its immediate vicinity, and who naturally thinks that no other place can compare with it in interest or in the beauty of its surroundings. I have been keenly interested in the growth and well being of the town all my life. I often recall the time when it possessed only one bank, and when Warrior Square was a brickfield. Perhaps an acount of what I remember will enable some of the younger generation to realise better the changes that have taken place in the span of one man's life, and those of my own age will be pleased to have their memories refreshed by it."
Mr Gutsell continues:-
Transport[edit | edit source]
"In my young days there were no trams or buses on the streets; taxis, motor cars, aeroplanes, telephones and wireless sets were not even dreamed of, and the roads were not lit by gas or electricity. There was no pier, no Town Hall, no hospital, no large shops and no fine parade. When we travelled by train we had to sit on uncomfortable hard seats, and to begin with the carriages were without roofs. When, however, I did make a journey to Brighton in a carriage that was roofed over, I found the draught to be worse than in the open-air trucks because the sides were open. In place of the Alexandra Railway Bridge there was a long tunnel, and from there to Ore Valley there were only two houses - a farmhouse and one in which Dr. Fearing lived. The first house, built near the Cemetery was occupied by Mr G.A. Thorpe who was several times Mayor of the town. The ground between St Marys Terrace and Stonefield Road, then known as The Steeples was used as a pasture ground for donkeys and goats, of which there were a number plying for hire on the sands.
West Hill, Mount Pleasant & Bohemia[edit | edit source]
Save for a few old shanties,Dr Wyatt had the only house in Mount Pleasant Road. There were three windmills on the West Hill. Mr Feaist, who was a great temperance reformer, gave up his position as head grinder and opened a business on Old London Road, where by steady perseverance, he built up a successful bakery. Daily he used to travel up to Tower Road in order to deliver one loaf of bread, always leaving his pony and cart at the Prince of Wales Hotel in order to avoid paying the tax at the toll-gate.
Close to what is now the busy Bohemia Road were the Shornden and Newgate Woods. The North Star was the first house to be built in the Newgate Wood which had up to then included only three old thatched cottages. There was also another wood extending down London Road as far as Warrior Square and known as Primrose Vale.
Churches[edit | edit source]
The Rapid growth of the town is further shown by the number of new churches and chapels that have been built in my time. The only places of worship existing in my youth were St. Mary in the Castle, St Leonards Old Church, St Clements Church, All Saints Church, St Mary Magdalen Church, Croft Chapel and the Norman Road Wesleyan Chapel, so that among others, I have seen erected in my time Christ Church, St John's Church, Holy Trinity Church, St Pauls Church, St Peters Church Christ Church Blacklands, the Fishermans Church, London Road Congregational Church and the Central Wesleyan Chapel.
There have been great changes also in the business quarters of the town. In my youth, Robertson Street was in its infancy, Silchester Road started with only two or three shops, and Kings Road and Queens Road were entirely undeveloped."