Sunday, 30 November 2014

Hastings and the Rail Service to London...

Have I discovered yet another reason to re-nationalise the railways, as Southeastern refuse to allow passengers to use the high speed service via Ashford, whilst their services are disrupted because of the rebuilding of London Bridge StationSoutheastern trains to Charing Cross will not be stopping at London Bridge for a year from 2015; the few services to Canon Street will also not be stopping there between 2016 and late 2017!     

Southeastern said it had been working with London Underground, buses and Docklands Light Railway, to allow passengers to use those services at no extra cost whilst work is carried out (see the BBC website), but that "this agreement does not include free travel on our high speed service as passengers on this route pay a premium for their faster journey and we need to balance protecting their interests with helping passengers affected by the London Bridge work." 

So, the people of Hastings again have to accept a 2nd rate service, although you can always use the (usually cheaper) alternative Victoria service (Southern), which will probably become the faster route to use for a year or two! 

We should bring back nationalised and integrated railways (which, according to YouGov surveys has the backing of over 60% of the population, whilst those against are just 21%), also noting that the East Coast service, the only rail service in public ownership for 5 years, is the only rail service to contribute to the Government's coffers rather than take money out... Oh yes! And that has just been handed back to the chums of Government ministers yet again! Shame...   

Friday, 28 November 2014

Council Watch - November 2014

Strange as it may seem to some, I suddenly found myself wanting to understand, or at least view, the machinations of local government in Hastings at first hand, so decided that I should attend Hastings Borough Council meetings, so, what did I find out in November? Not a great month to learn from, though there certainly was a sense of political combat at the meetings I went to...  

The subject I am going to mention is how Hastings Museum and Art Gallery had its plan approved at the 'Cabinet' meeting on the 3rd November, no thanks to the new leader of the Conservative group, who abstained from voting, because, it seemed to me, he thought his own party could have made a better job of it, using up financial reserves; which had been earmarked by the Council, I think, to help cover the projected loss of money from central government to Hastings, from 2010 to 2017, of 56%.

If the plan had not been approved, the Museum would not have been able to apply for grants, but the Cabinet approved the plan, so the Museum can carry on its business! I found this rather strange 'politicking' by Councillor Cooke, notably as the local MP has very recently given her support to a museum in Rye, Hastings doesn't seem to garner the same support from her local party, it appears...

That was November, mostly, but there were other instances of Councillor Cooke, and his protege, Councillor Liam Atkins, voting against Labour policies, hardly surprising, and a few political scuffles, and put-downs of them, by other councillors, NB the old town's Councillor John Hodges. This made the meetings more interesting!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Switching on the lights of Priscilla MacBean!

Friday 21st November at 6pm, the official switching the lights on was held at the 'dry dock' in Old London Road.

In the morning, a few hours before the lights were officially turned on, I had a good chat to the electrician who was working on the final electrics, I was certainly looking forward to the evening now I knew a bit more! 

Dee-Day says a bit more to his audience, just before getting up on board 

Charlie Sharrod, Tush Hamilton, Dee-Day White, together with the leader of Hastings Borough Council, Councillor Jeremy Birch, and Trust Patron and Mayor, Councillor Bruce Dowling, all on board for the event.

They all say a little something before the Mayor switched the lights on...

Bruce Dowling switchess on the lights, to the applause of those present, luckily not too many, or the road may have had to be closed again! Also present were many other representatives from the Council, including Councillor John Hodges, a strong protagonist for Hastings, the 'old town' and Priscilla MacBean, and Councillor Dawn Pool.

Priscilla MacBean actually looks much better at night than in my photographs, which don't do the lighting justice. Indeed, there is a lovely blue 'wash' shining up from underneath, and other white lighting and spots. Go and have a look! 

Afterwards, the main protagonists, their wives and friends, decamped to the FILO in the High Street for a pleasant drink and meal, and well deserved too!     

Priscilla MacBean

My first blog is an adaptation of the article that I wrote for the November 21st issue of Hastings Independent. 

So, why was traffic in Hastings Old Town inconvenienced for a couple of hours last Saturday 15th? So that a 93 years old lifeboat could be pulled up The Bourne to a purpose-built dry dock at the foot of Old London Road; it could only happen in Hastings! 

A year or so ago, a rather unkempt Priscilla MacBean had been found in a field near Eastbourne by Hastings-born Dee-Day White, who soon brought his pals since childhood, Tush Hamilton and Charlie Sharrod, 'on board' his project. They now form the committee of The Priscilla MacBean Trust, together with wives, Bev and Pat, and the patron, the Mayor of Hastings. 

The list of people who helped the project goes on and on, and no doubt will carry on increasing. With the help of friends and significant financial, physical and material support from many people of Hastings, the Priscilla MacBean was brought to, and restored on, land provided by East Hastings Sea Angling Club, as a monument to the RNLI and its staff.

During the week, Priscilla MacBean had been on show at The Stade.

On the Friday 14th, Tush et al were carrying out some final work, whilst Dee-Day made sure they carried out the work properly. Truly, he was posing for me really!

On Saturday, at the Stade, Jonathan Mendenhall shared some history of this retired lifeboat (for some of her history see and Father Fetherstone blessed her, also conducting a service of rememberence for the 17 crew members of the Rye lifeboat who lost their lives in the Mary Stanford tragedy 86 years ago to the day. 

Before the parade started, Fiona Harrison sang a couple of appropriate hymns, and some of the hundreds of spectators joined in, whilst preparations were made to pull Priscilla MacBean up The Bourne. 

Leaving The Stade for the road, and the start of her journey.

The Parade included many invited dignitaries, including Baron Boyce (retired Admiral of the Fleet); lifeboat crews, Coast Guard and the mayors of Rye, Eastbourne and Hastings; Amber Rudd MP; Hastings Borough Councillors, and many more. 

It took just 1 hour and 20 minutes, for a combined team from the Fire Service, Bonfire Society and a RNLI vehicle, to pull the boat, using the traditional method with trows, and the cooperation of local Police, to get from the Stade to safely securing her in her new home at the foot of Old London Road, and raising the sails. Congratulations to all, and trusting those inconvenienced appreciate the reason. 

People walking up the hill were smiling from ear to ear!

Having reached the dry dock, traffic had been diverted via Harold Road, and the crane was positioned to transfer Priscilla MacBean. I suggest about a thousand people were in attendance overall, at The Stade, coming up The Bourne, and here (above), for the 'docking'. 

The Priscilla MacBean will now be the first landmark visitors see when they reach Hastings Old Town. This Friday evening, 21st November at 6pm, the Mayor of Hastings officially switched on the lights, more of in my next blog. 

There are too many people to name all who contributed to the project, but Dee-Day and Tush said that Priscilla MacBean is now "yours", ie the people of Hastings. Dee-Day did ask me to mention that all the electrical work was supplied free, Josephine Cranford and Hastings Borough Council paying for the lighting; the council also provided her resting place for a peppercorn rent. 

With thanks and respect to our lifeboat crews, to the crew of the Mary Stanford, and all RNLI volunteers who have met similar fates trying to protect and save the public. R.I.P.   

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Just starting....

Trying to work out how to set this up, so, should anyone find me by chance, it will get more interesting, I promise, indeed, a new dawn ;-)