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Barracks were erected on what had previously been known as the "Gallows Field".  A portion of land measuring approximately 30 acres was sold to the government in 1790 to build Halton Barracks.(the year is stated to be 1798 elsewhere) After serving their purpose, they were sold for £7,000 approximately a quarter of their cost in 1823 to Boykett Breeds & Co. for building. Part of the site was taken over during the early 1900s by the Salvation Army.
An extract from a newspaper report of 1803 reads:-
"5th October 1803 - Eastbourne. Everything is on the alert to receive the enemy;the whole of the 11th Light Dragoons have been ordered from their different outposts and are Stationed at Hastings, Boxhill and South Bourne...1804...Temporary barracks to accommodate 900 infantry and 200 cavalry were began at Hastings on Saturday.."
By 1806, the number of troops in the town had reportedly increased to some 12,000 men (Cavalry, Infantry and Artillery) under the command of the Duke of Wellington who had his headquarters in Hastings House. Additional camps existed at Battle, Bexhill and Fairlight. Considering the population of the town was recorded as being just over 3,000, the influx of troops certainly would have increased trade and visitors to the town.
It should be noted that the Hastings Chronicle website has the date of purchase of the land much later at 1804, describing an army of tradesmen being sought for construction of the site. The website also claims that the land was sold in 1823 to Mark Breeds for the sum of £3,000.
Although not strictly contemporaneous with the creation of the barracks, it is recorded that around 1800, there were approximately 12,000 troops garrisoned in and around the town, the scale of this can be gained by comparison with the civilian population at the same time of some 3,500 individuals.
References & Notes
- Hastings of Bygone days and the Present (Henry Cousins - 1911) pg.267 ISBN: 9789332862449 ESCC Library Google Books " Amazon
- Hastings EUS 2010
- Hastings of Bygone days and the Present (Henry Cousins - 1911) pg.304 ISBN: 9789332862449 ESCC Library Google Books " Amazon
- An Historical and Descriptive Account of the Coast of Sussex by John Docra Parry 1803 pg. 202, 204 Google Books
- Hastings, past and present (Mary Matilda Howard) pg. 39 Google Books
- Hastings Chronicle (S. Peak)
- A Compendious History of Sussex: Topographical, Archæological & Anecdotical (Mark Anthony Lower) pg. 221