Thursday, 30 April 2015

Oh dear... Rail chaos today!

Not the day to chose to visit London by rail from Hastings, thankfully I didn't, but thousands had to leave trains in between Wandsworth Common and Clapham Junction on the line to Victoria, due to a power cut, see website for further details. 

It's THAT weekend!

Today, the Jack in the Green exhibition opens at the History House, Courthouse Street, and the 4 days of festivities start tomorrow, of course culminating in the May Day procession and extravaganza. See the programme on the website for further details and enjoy the weekend... Here's hoping the rain doesn't fall all the time! 

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Keep on running Tara!

It's amazing what people do, Tara Twyman, of nearby Uckfield, is running 7 more marathons, 1 a day, following her run in the London Marathon, aiming to raise money for an International Chandramauli Trust school in India, that was started up by her fellow-East Sussex friend, Lucy Guest! 

Nice one! For more information see the BBC.  

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Well done Paul!

Probably not his fastest time ever, but our warm congratulations to Paul, Debbie would be proud of you, we are mate! 

Good luck to Paul!

My best wishes to Paul Denny when he runs in the London Marathon today, in memory of Debbie McSweeney, and to raise funds for Macmillan Nurses Sussex! 

There is an article in the Hastings Observer this week, well worth the read (see above), and just a reminder that collection boxes, and donation forms for Macmillan Nurses, are placed in the Old Town Cobblers in the High Street, also in the same road, at the Jenny Lind and FILO, at the Dolphin Inn, Rock-a-Nore. 

Al monies raised are going to Macmillan Nurses, Sussex, many thanks... 

Once again, good luck to Paul, and all runners, and all donations welcomed! 

Friday, 24 April 2015

Wander to Bexhill...

By Steve the Beermeister 

I had a nice wander to Bexhill on St George's Day, beautiful weather, and I hadn't visited the Albatross Club (R.A.F.A. Bexhill) for quite a while, indeed, I still had to collect my 2015 membership cards! It's a 10-mile round trip, and you can walk along without undulations, unless you fancy tackling Galley Hill once or twice. It's easy to forget how nice it can be walking along with the sea lapping at the nearby beach...    

One of the first sights on entering Bexhill is what I call the "Flag Raiser's Home", always a flag flying, unsurprisingly, it was the Cross of St George, but I've recorded many a different flag flying here... I always take a photograph, I have so many images of the owner's roof! 

I reach my destination (website), collected my cards from the pigeon hole, and had a wee drink there; some lovely ales at just £3 a pint (4 different real ales and a good range of bottled and real ciders). As an Associate member, I can enjoy a drink and a chat here, and, of course, I may sign in non-members. As a member of CAMRA, I was allowed in anyway before joining. A suggested donation of £1 is requested of non-members. 

The Bar is now run by the new (ish) Head Bar Steward, Karen, my mate Geoff having wandered off to run his own pub in Kent. Karen is ably supported by her Assistant Head Bar Steward, Peter, with whom I chatted yesterday. I was a little apprehensive of what ales would now be served following the departure of Geoff, but shouldn't have been concerned, because Karen and Peter are still stocking some wonderful ales, cheers!  

Anyway, time to leave Bexhill, and, as you can see, the sky was still clear, and a wonderful walk home ensued, a venture I would always recommend. 

I will be writing about the ales on my own blog very soon...

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Only 4 days to go!

Only 4 days to go, and Paul will be running/limping/crawling the London Marathon, whatever, he has promised to complete the race, and he's already run well over a dozen marathons in his life, but this one has more importance for him, being in honour of Debbie McSweeney. As I have said before, there are collection boxes/sponsorship forms at the Old Town Cobblers in the High Street, and at 3 pubs, the FILO and Jenny Lind in the High Street, and at the Dolphin at Rock-a-Nore... 

All donations would be much appreciated, with all proceeds going to Macmillan Nurses (Sussex). Latest news on the marathon is at their website.  

Monday, 20 April 2015

Deadline Day!

If you want to vote on the 7th May, or just do not want to get fined, this is the deadline day to register, link to website

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Protecting the Marine Environment

Tips for protecting the marine environment, and the complete environment really, can be read online, I would have reproduced them here fully, but I have to give the credit to Hastings Blue Reef Aquarium, as I found this excellent information there!  

However, I shall be visiting and writing about the Aquarium soon (website). 

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Old Town Hall (Museum) available to let...

Hastings Borough Council have advertised the former Old Town Hall/Museum as being available to let at a rent of £35,000 per annum, if anyone is interested see their website...

Friday, 17 April 2015

3 Days left in which to Register...

There are still 3 days left in which you may register to vote, if you have been asked to register, it is illegal not to, subject to a fine... 

The deadline is 20th April, and your vote really does matter. You can register on this page @ the Government website

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Pier opening put back to 2016, however...

You may have already seen this on the BBC today, as they were filming here this morning, but the planned official opening of the pier has been put back to the 21st March 2016, mainly due to storm damage last year, although there are going to be events later on this year that will enable access to the pier: see the website for further information.    

2015 Loos of the Year!

I'm not pulling your chain, but elsewhere last year I reported that Hastings Borough Council toilets had won a plethora of awards, and I was taken aback when I noticed more award certificates pinned to the wall of the Pelham Beach loos, and I had to go and talk to Judy Pebody at the Stade loos, where there are even more certificates. Judy had been the star of a 2014 television documentary about the awards given by LOYA, the Loo of the Year Awards.

The standards of toilets across the country are investigated by LOYA, from those in shopping centres to those in restaurants and hotels, and from those in schools to those by beaches; LOYA have 60 categories in all and awards are given to the best loos in each category. This news is so up to date I can't even find the latest results on their website! Though not so up to date that it hasn't already been published elsewhere, it so happens, the trouble with not receiving press releases...  

Among the awards won this year are the 'Local Authority Trophy' for Premier League winner, an overall highest grade of 'Platinum' for the town's loos, and Judy won the 2015 UK 'Attendant of the Year Award', for the second year in a row, nice one Judy!

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Muriel Matters event at St Mary in the Castle

Muriel Lilah Matters was an Australian born suffragist, lecturer, journalist, educator, actress and elocutionist. Based in Britain from 1905 till her death, Matters is best known for her work on behalf of the Women's Freedom League during the height of the struggle to enfranchise women in the United Kingdom.

In 1924, Matters ran as the Labour Candidate for the seat of Hastings in the General Election and from 1949 lived here, at number 7 Pelham Crescent; her house now forms the offices of St Mary in the Castle. 

On Thursday April 16th, Frances Bedford MP, secretary for The Muriels Matters Society, will be giving a talk about the life of Muriel Matters, showing a docudrama made last year about her activism, and hosting a question and answers session in the auditorium. 

As a lead up to the event they will be exhibiting a small collection of photographs highlighting Muriel's work, in the crypt (entrance to the left of the restaurant), starting Monday April 13th and running for one week. 

Tickets are available on the door for a small donation to go towards the upkeep of St Mary in the Castle. 

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Support Macmillan Nurses in Sussex please

In memory of Debbie McSweeney (1962-2014) Paul Denny will be running the London Marathon on 26th April 2015 (website) to raise money for MacMillan Nurses (Sussex - website), having already raised nearly £400, as I have recently mentioned; by the way, a donation box is still in the First in Last Out (FILO), High Street, Hastings old town.

There is also a MacMillan sponsorship form on the notice board at the FILO, please support Paul supporting MacMillan Nurses, in honour of Debbie, many thanks!

There will be more sponsorship forms distributed before the Marathon, which is 2 weeks away now, and I shall advise their whereabouts as I become aware of them...

Friday, 10 April 2015

When Irish eyes are smiling...

It may not seem appropriate to a blog that concentrates on Hastings, but this really is! 

Bear with me, but yesterday I visited London to see my brother and 2 nieces, and enjoyed the day immensely, however, on my way back, 3 generations of Irish womanhood boarded the train at Gatwick, and, to their chagrin, perhaps, they were lumbered with me... Anyway, we chatted, or more probably, I talked a fair bit to them, and I prised out of them a few details about their planned long weekend visit to Hastings, to stay with the matriarch's sister. Anyway, I wished them well, have a great weekend etc... 

This lunchtime, I was imbibing with friends in the FILO, after strenuous work of course, and who should walk in, but the 4 women in question?!? Well, it would have been rude of me to not say "hello" again, so I did. They appear to be enjoying their time in Hastings already, and so they should, of course, the wonderful place that Hastings is, and I wish them an excellent rest of their visit stay here, enjoy yourselves, slainte m'dears. 

Thursday, 9 April 2015

OIL STRIKE... In Sussex!

Would you believe it, and no, this isn't April 1st, hence not a joke, but a significant source of oil has been discovered, and no need for fracking either, thankfully...

Have a read of the BBC site for more information, hmmm... This could well see property values increasing over future years, perhaps... 

St Mary in the Castle - Part II

Last week I interviewed Sean at St Mary in the Castle and we discussed how well the arranging the musical side of the project is going, and, together with his 'little helpers', Tom, Sarah and Charlie, he explained how the emphasis on booked acts now was for quality as well as local. To help this, a number of other agents are being used to help put this venue on the map for high profile acts on national tours. 

Look out for a new website, and in addition, more theatre and classical music is being arranged here, not to mention local community events and arts exhibitions. The  following gigs and shows are coming up, and a gig from The Damned should be announced soon too, enjoy quality entertainment in beautiful surroundings! 

Courtney Pine – April 10th
The Hastings Philharmonic Choir presents ‘Carmina Burana’ – April 11th
Kenny Ball Junior and his Jazzman – April 18th
The Fall – April 25th
Seth Lakeman with the Full English – May 9th
The Freedom Theatre of Jenin presents ‘The Siege’ – May 28th
Fairport Convention – May 30th    

Monday, 6 April 2015

If there's an article you should read...

I know I said I wouldn't mention the coming general election much, so I won't, but, if there's an article you should read, it's on page 9 of the current Hastings Independent (fortnightly, issue 27) and entitled "Why your vote matters in Hastings", a good read, and in no way an argument for any side, it just asserts that in Hastings "your vote really does matter..." 

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Hastings Jewel in the Crown: St Mary in the Castle

When he handed the keys over to Zoe Ashdown of the St Mary in the Castle Charitable Trust a couple of years ago, the leader of Hastings Borough Council, Jeremy Birch, said "This is the start of a very bright, new future for St Mary in the Castle... It gives me great pleasure to hand over the key to this jewel in our crown." 

Last year I interviewed 2 of the 9 trustees, Judy Rogers and Tom Frosdick, and I have spoken to them both since, and not a few times to Sean Berkeley too, who has since been appointed manager. At the interview, I discovered that Giles Sutton, the principal of Buckswood School, had taken over the lease of St Mary in the Castle from the Council, in the iterim, to help ensure its development as an arts and cultural centre for Hastings. 
The Cupola
His plan allowed time for the Trust to become a charitable body, and for its consolidation, before passing on the lease, which we are still awaiting, although I thought it may have happened sooner after the original interview. Whatever, I said then, and still believe, it's good to see philanthropists still exist in Hastings, though probably not ragged trousered!
Keeping St Mary in the Castle viable had been difficult for many years. It was named after the original church that Hastings Castle was built around, and which continued parochial services until the late 16th century under the auspices of the vicars of St Clement and All Saints. The church fell into ruin, as did the castle. In 1601 the lordship of Hastings, including authority over the castle, passed to the Pelham family, which begins my story. 
Victorian Pelham Crescent
Basic repairs to the castle began in 1824, being instigated by Thomas Pelham, the Earl of Chichester, who also commissioned the building of a new St Mary in the Castle in the centre of a crescent of Regency houses that is now Pelham Crescent. The architect was Joseph Kay, and the foundation stone for the church was laid In 1825, with the structure completed in 1828, although the houses on the western side remained unbuilt for a few more years. A shopping arcade, the design influenced by Burlington Arcade in London, was built below the crescent. 
The Cupola and Balcony
The church is of a neo-classical design with a Palladian Portico, and is set against the cliff, with catacombs and burial vaults beneath. It has a number of unique and interesting features, for example, unusual in an Anglican church, is a tank for baptism by immersion, dating from 1928, which was fed by one of the five springs found emerging from the cliff-face when the church was built.
The church became parochial in 1884, and was refurbished in 1888-89, the architect then probably being Henry Ward, who was prolific in Hastings at the time (in January, I talked about him building the new town hall in Queens Road). There were repairs to the roof made by Herbert Murray Jeffery in 1938-39, but over the following 30-40 years, the building became neglected. It ceased use as an Anglican church in 1970, and was sold to a nonconformist church, which managed to keep going for 8 years. 
The Balcony and Seating
After various failed plans, and whilst the structure again fell into disrepair, the church was acquired by Hastings Borough Council in 1990, together with 7 Pelham Crescent, where the office is now situated. Supported by Engish Heritage and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, restoration began and the building was made structurally sound, the roof was rebuilt, and the ceiling plasterwork restored.
In 1991, the Friends of St Mary in the Castle (FOSMIC) sought to make the building a cultural centre for Hastings, FOSMIC becoming a charity in 1994, and receiving a European Union grant and an award from the Arts Council lottery fund in 1995. The lease was passed to FOSMIC the following year. Work was completed in 1998, but they ran into financial difficulties. 
The Restaurant
A number of organisations and people have worked to keep the project on course. Sonrise Church, South Coat Artists, Barbara Rogers until recently had run St Mary in the Castle as an 'ethical' small business for up to three and a half years in total, and the Council itself had made a few attempts. However, by the end of 2012 the Council put the lease out to tender and approved the plans submitted by Giles Sutton, which sought to ensure the continued use of the building for cultural purposes, and a restaurant was opened on Pelham Place as well.
The Trust has ambitious plans which have been supported by Giles Sutton and the Council, and the future looks exceedingly bright. I have already talked about the music side of St Mary in the Castle a few times, and I shall be adding more very soon about this gorgeous 'jewel' in Hastings 'crown', and its future... 

Some of the photographs are my own, and I thank the Trust for the rest.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Hayley Okines R.I.P.

See BBC.

Lifeboat 'Spring Fling'

Join the RNLI for a 'Spring Fling' this Saturday 4th April, 10am to 2pm, at Hastings Lifeboat Station, and take a decorated egg for a chance to win a prize... 

There will be an Easter Bonnet Parade (12.30), live music, face painting, tea, coffee and cakes, and plenty more, not forgetting the Easter Bunny, who should never be forgotten!   

In aid of Hastings Lifeboat Station. 

Reply to Sally 'Bax'

I have sent a reply direct to Sally, and still appear to lack the means to reply on here (!?!), but many thanks for her contribution. I have already had a look at her blog, and probably people 'down under' may find Jack in the Green a wee bit strange, but Hastings does like to provide opportunities to party, which has to be understood everywhere! 

Cheers, and shiver me timbers!! 

Hastings Pier update

The six new piles for the Visitor Centre on the pier have all been installed and trimmed to the required level. Each pile is a 23 metres long, 610mm diameter steel tube filled with steel reinforcement and concrete.

When restoration work has been completed, approximately 350 trusses and 820 deck beams will have been replaced, ie about 3,000 tonnes of new steel! Also, work on the old Pavilion continues; the roof and construction of the pods have been completed, the walls are being re-built and the windows and sliding doors are being added. 

For more information go to the website

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Sad goodbye to Old Town Hall Museum...

I know it was April 1st yesterday morning, but it was no joke, the Hastings Old Town Hall Museum wouldn't be opening anymore due to central government financial cuts, and the consequent need for Hastings Borough Council to make savings, in this instance, by bringing all the Museum's exhibits under one roof, up in Bohemia Road. 

Built in 1823, the town hall until 1881 (and 1st Hastings police station during that period), and a museum since 1949, now waiting to see the next phase of its history, a sad day...