Hastings Mechanics’ Institution

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The Hastings Mechanics’ Institution based at 39a High Street[1] was founded in 1834 by John Banks. He was involved with it for the rest of his life, on the committee, for a long period as secretary and also as president. He lectured on all manner of scientific subjects from chemistry to astronomy. “Without the least pretension to eloquence or finished rhetoric, he stands before his audience a plain-speaking man, thoroughly understanding his subject and telling his hearers in plain Saxon what he knows”[2].

During the Institution's heyday, it had a number of prominent citizens involved with both its management and membership including such note-worthies as W. Glenister; the Police superintendent and Fire Chief.

Moving to new premises in the rapidly developing 'new' town in the Priory Valley, the Institution was on the ground floor of the Public Hall with the Music Hall above. This later became the Public Hall Cinema, then the Plaza Cinema, W. H. Smiths then expanded to take over the entire premises, and now the ​building​ is Yates Wine Lodge in Robertson Street.

The institution wound down its operations to the end of the 19th century, the purpose-built premises they had constructed in the High Street later became the Old Hastings Club in the 1920s, then later still, an auctioneer, then the Electric Palace cinema.[3]


References & Notes

  1. Hastings past and present with notices of the most remarkable places in the neighbourhood (Mary Matilda Howard) pg. 79 Google Books
  2. Hastings and St. Leonards Observer: When smugglers plied their ‘free trade’ in Hastings - Hastings and St. Leonards Observer, accessdate: 2 December 2019
  3. Leigh Kennedy, Historical Hastings Facebook group