Pelham Arcade

From Historical Hastings
Pelham Arcade
Length180 feet
Completion18 August 1825[1]
DesignerJoseph Kay

Sometimes referred to as the Royal Pelham Arcade. This was a rectangular room long occupied by almost thirty shops situated beneath Pelham Crescent, and was possibly the first purpose-built shopping-mall in the United Kingdom. As one of the largest spaces in Hastings at the time, it was often utilised as a lecture or concert-room[2]. The space is now sub-divided into plots corresponding to the shop fronts on Pelham Place, the sub-division taking place pre-1947 on the whole.

Parry describes Pelham Arcade thus; "This is a fine room, lighted in the ceiling, 180 feet long, and occupied by twenty-eight shops, in the style of a bazaar, the centre also forming a musical promenade in the evening; in another part of the basement is a coffee-room. The terrace is ascended by a handsome flight of steps."[3]

It is believed that at least some of the shops had cellars, such as that utilised by Ellis Son and Vidler in their adjoining premises.

Original design based upon contemporary drawings

Contemporary drawings of Pelham Arcade by William Moss and Thomas DW Dearn depict the interior, which was laid out with stalls within tall arcades, in eleven bays, on the north and south sides of a central space. The arcade was top-lit by a canted roof-light of presumably timber small-paned lights supported on segmental arched iron trusses; the central bay appearing to have an octagonal ceiling vent. At each end, the northern arcade was canted and reduced in scale, to account for the profile of the crescent and the church crypt. Shops are shown set back within the arcades, each having a projecting counter. At the east end was a lobby with a groin-vaulted roof and lit by a semicircular Diocletian overlight. At the west end was a similar vestibule with an entrance to the western end of the ramp. The drawings suggest that there was a principal entrance to the west of the centre of the concourse, shown on Moss's interior view, and in varied form on external views, breaking forward from the main façade, and in some cases under an enriched panel. It appears to have been balanced by a smaller entrance towards the eastern end of the facade. Both artists show a timber plank floor.[1]

Modifications from original

The arcade was modified in the 1860s to open up the southern range of stalls to the street, first at the eastern end of the arcade, and then by 1863 into the south wall of the ramp. The main basement to the western end was excavated as early as 1860/61 by wine merchant Joseph Arnold. By 1881 Gothic fronts had been added to two bays of the façade. C20 and early C21 individual shops disguise the façade and internal plan of the southern arcade. [1]

Grade II* Listed (Historic England listing 1043389)


Features in Pelham Arcade

Name Street No From To

References & Notes

  1. a b c Historic England Listing
  2. Osborne's Stranger's Guide to Hastings and St Leonards c1854 Pg. 20-21 Google Books On this wiki
  3. An Historical and Descriptive Account of the Coast of Sussex by John Docra Parry 1803 pg. 228 Google Books