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Promenading the Pier
Dancing – Ballroom to Modern - Disco
Food & Drink
Speed Boat Rides
And the list goes on…………………..
A popular form of entertainment, to promenade the length of the Pier – in
all weathers, its was both fashionable as well as healthy -
The previous photographic Image from the era shows the
wide open space between the shore end and the Pavilion.
From shore end – flagstaff – 910 ft
The Pavilion – also know as the Saloon or Concert Hall -
situated at the sea end was capable of holding 2000 people
The style was described as oriental, with onion domes and tall
Also at the sea end were low-level landing stages, which were
later enlarged to become stages for sea going steamers.
By 1910 – the clear areas were being reduced – here we see the Bowling Alley and The
Joy Wheel Roundabout – its beginning to get that cluttered feeling ? Society was
changing and promenading was loosing its popularity ?
This is clearly going to be one of the mainstays of the Pier Entertainments for
many decades, to come, indeed the Pier and Hastings Corporation had entered
into a building plan that would see the construction of the Pier Band Stand, with
covered shelters , the new entrance foyer with café and shops –
Then on 15 July 1917 – the much loved Pier Pavilion went up in smoke a fire that
was thought to have been caused by a discarded cigarette end !!
Here from the Hastings Observer in 1920 you can see the reconstruction of the
Pier Ballroom, into the size and shape that many would remember to the bitter
Unknown Band taken on the Promenade in
front of the Saloon entrance - 1890
Ye Merrie Folke Hastings Pier 1913
The Periodicals Palagette 24 March 1914
These have been part of the entertainments on the pier since 1884, when the Queen of
Thanet was hired for 3 weeks, to test the market. On 2nd September that year the service
started, it had been planned that this trip would be to Boulogne, but bad weather prevented
this happening until the following Saturday, over the coming days several more trips to
France, as well as local coastal cruises took place it was a success.
In 1885 The Hastings & St Leonards Passenger Steamship Co.Ltd was formed.
This raised £7350 which enabled the company to by the 192 ft Iron paddle steamer the
Carrick Castle – which began regular trips from 18 May 1885.
In 1889 the Pier Company completed the new 300ft staging to accommodate more ships.
Many more ships were to follow including –
The Lady Brassey
In 1905 the Hastings, St Leonards and Eastbourne Steamboat Co Ltd, the successor to the
1885 company, went bust !
Over the next few years, there were attempts to create further businesses based on both the
Hastings and St Leonards Piers, but these unsuccessful, partly due to the decline of the town
as a tourist attraction, and the lack of investment in new ships..
The interwar years saw the inclusion of the Pier to the visits made by vessels of the P&A
Campbell Steamship Line.
These would continue until the early 1980s, when a combination of - few ships being in
commission and the lack of landing facilities on the pier, brought this phase to an end.
The last of the steamship visits was in the 1986 by the PS Waverley.
Coming into Land
Unknown Steamer approaching
the Pier Head – 1930s
Did this trip take
place – look at the
date and time
PS Waverley – this is the second vessel to carry this name, the original was sunk
during the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940. Both vessels have served the pier
over time, until in the 1980s, the landing stages were declared unsafe, and now
on the occasions of this vessel coming to the south coast, passengers have to
A regular feature of the attractions on the pier were the speed boat rides, which
operated from Easter – October and were very popular with visitors and resident
Not strictly The Pier, but near enough – on the beach and under the pier when
tide was right – a popular way to spend a few hours on the water, and for 1/-
Immediate post war years – around 1947 Dressed for all eventualities !
Created in the last 1920s, this was a 645 seat theatre, that would become the home for many
years of Harry Hanson's Court Players a professional repertory Company.
In 1934 The Shore Pavilion was revamped to be in keeping with the Art-deco style that was a
feature of the new entrance to the Pier facilities. The theatre was enlarged to now hold 740
and new dressing room and storage areas, plus offices behind the stage.
Interior of the Theatre
showing some of the art-deco
Uncovered at HMAG Archive – The original Plans
The Rep would operate Monday to Saturday, with and Sunday Concerts to complete the week –
from the 1950s we can see this was provided by the Resident Band in the Happy Ballroom
The Court Players continued in the Theatre till the mid 1964, when Harry Hanson retired. The
numbers has been dwindling, and in the winter months, the company used to move over the
road and use the lower hall in the White Rock Pavilion, much more cosy !
From The Hastings Observer Pier Advertisements for 1964 – I believe this was the final week
of the Court Players 19th September, and the Bingo Operation started October that year.
Part of the 1914-17 development was the construction of the Band Strand and covered areas
– East and West on the Apron. This was to be a great future over the years with regular band
concerts in particularly during the summer months.
Scottish Dancing – 1930s
Just taking the Sun
Tridome: Built in 1966 to house the 1066 Tapestry. The
Original Banstand was demolished by the Council in
the early 1960s
Portable Band Stand from 1980s –
later moved to Warrior Square
One of the most popular activity on the Pier from the very early days, as been Fishing, both
Competitive and as a hobby.
It was also a very lucrative undertaking for the Pier, the number fishing was reflected in the
receipts of licences, toll fees, day ticket etc that were sold.
and from time to time Revivalist Meetings.
I have covered much of this in “ The History of The Happy Ballroom”
So here are a few images of different activities that have taken place
over the years _
The Happy Ballroom
Dick Whittington Pantomime
The Happy Ballroom
Beverley Dance Orchestra -1947
The Happy Ballroom
Resident Orchestra in 1950s
The Happy Ballroom
Different views from the 1950s
Amusement Arcades – mainstay of ALL piers
The Pier had the longest Bar in Hastings
Palm Court Restaurant
Gift & Novelty Shops
Candy Floss & Ice Creams
The Pier was OPEN 365 Days a year.
Cathy Walling – Hastings Museum & Art Gallery
Zoe Edwards - ESCC Reference Library
Alan Esdaile – “SMART”
Peter Fairless – “Bands We Have Seen on Hastings” Pier FB Site
Kevin Atkins Collection
André Palfrey-Martin Collection