Sea Shell Vendors

From Historical Hastings

On the 18th of March, 1912, the Hastings & St Leonards Observer carried an obituary for Mrs. James Burt. Mrs. Burt had gained some renown as a sea shell vendor who set out her stall by the Russian Gun and was often photographed during her long career. The obituary reads[1]:-

A LINK WITH THE PAST.—Many people acquainted with Hastings in past years will be sorry to hear of the death of Mrs. James Burt, the last of those who formerly kept stall for the sale of shells to visitors near the Russian Gun. Mrs. Burt, who had attained the age of 84 years, retired only about four years ago. Beginning the business of shell selling as a girl of sixteen, she had followed it all her life, and was well known to visitors. On one occasion she was painted by a lady artist, to whom she sat in Wellington-square Gardens. Mrs. Burt's husband died 17 years ago. For fifty years he had worked for the Local Board and Hastings Corporation. Of a family of 18, 13 are still living. Mr. J. Burt, the ex-Road Inspector, is the second son. The late Mrs. Burt lived in only two houses in Hastings during her long life—one was in the Bourne, and the other was Victoria Cottage, All Saints-street, where she died on the 10th May. She had lived at Victoria Cottage for 30 years. She was operated on for cataract about the time that General Booth underwent a similar operation. Mrs. Burt's sister, who died some years ago, had a stall next te Mrs. Burt’s at the Russian Gun. After her death it was carried on for a time by Mrs. Burt’s brother-in-law. The funeral took place on Wednesday at the Borough Cemetery, the Rev. A. E. Farkes officiated.


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