The Hastings UK Guide


History of St Leonards-on-Sea


Baldslow Mill

The mill lost its sails in 1900 and was worked by steam until 1930. The name Baldslow is said to have come from Beald’s Hill and is spelled Baldeslei in the Domesday Book. The site of Baldslow Mill was used for one of the beacons lit when the Spanish Armada sailed up the English Channel in 1588.

Baldslow Mill

Baldslow Mill

Bottle Alley

The double-decker promenade that runs from Hastings Pier to Warrior Square, was built in the 1930's and is the only one of its kind in the country. The walls have mosaics created from broken glass and originally there were shutters to protect the walk from the rough seas.


Caple-ne-Ferne was built in 1879-1880 for Robert Tubbs Nightingale Tubbs (yes that really was his name). The house was left to Tubbs' widow who died in 1922...

Read more about Caple-ne-Ferne


Victorian Caple-ne-Ferne

1980's Caple-ne-Ferne

Christ Church

Built in 1860, the original Christ Church was replaced by the current one in 1885. The church hall of the original church still remains.

Congregational Church

The Congregational Church in London Road originally had a green pointed spire, which was damaged by the 1987 hurricane and subsequently demolished.

Elite Cinema

The Elite cinema near Warrior Square was originally opened in 1879 as the 'Warrior Square Opera House' and renamed 'The Royal Concert Hall' following a visit of The Prince of Wales. A young Winston Churchill gave a talk here in 1901 about his adventures in the South African War.

In 1921 the building was converted into the Elite Cinema and got bombed in the Second World War. The cinema was re-opened in 1947 but in June of the same year it became the victim of a serious fire which proved to be the end of the building. The story says that the cinema caught fire at exactly midday and the film to be shown that afternoon was titled Blaze at Noon. Luckily the cinema was closed at the time of the fire and nobody was injured.

The Elite cinema building stood derelict for many years and the site was eventually used to build a block of retirement flats called Royal Terrace, thankfully not fated by the cinema’s bad luck. Royal Terrace was officially opened by the Duchess of Kent in 1987.

Eversfield Hospital / West House

Situated in West Hill Road and built in 1881, originally named The Eversfield Hospital and Home for Consumption and Diseases of the Chest and Throat. The hospital became part of the National Health Service in 1948.

Gambier House

Situated in West Hill Road and named after Dr Thomas Gambier who opened the Hastings & St Leonards Throat and Ear Dispensary in Trinity Street in 1882.

Gensing Gardens

Originally laid out circa 1880, Gensing Gardens was a sheltered and warm spot for subtropical plants. Anglesea Terrace, which overlooks the gardens, was built about the same time.

Grand Parade

Grand Parade was built by some of James Burton's workmen as an independent project and was originally called Adelaide Place because Queen Adelaide spent the winter at number 23 in 1837.

Also see Burton's St Leonards history section

Grand Parade Underground Car Park

Stretches 1000 ft from Warrior Square to Undercliff and was built by Sidney little as part of the parade widening scheme. Finally finished in 1938 after a severe steel shortage hindered progress. The old parade was widened by about 25ft towards the sea and a length of 1000ft was hollowed out to provide parking for 200 cars. The sun trap shelters were incorporated on the lower promenade. opened in June 1936 by the Minister of Transport, Mr L Hore-Belisha.

Marine Court

The foundation stone for Marine Court was laid by Mr R. Holland-Martin, the Chairman of the Southern Railway, on 30th November 1936. Marine Court was built to look like an ocean liner and at the time it was finished it was the tallest block of flats in the country. It originally consisted of 153 flats and 3 restaurants. In May 1937 a competition was held to name the new building with a £5 prize. Suggestions included “Sunny South Court”, Monstrosity Mansions”, “Have No Care House”, “Mammon Court” and “Controversy Building”. Bombing during the Second World War damaged the top 6 floors on the east-facing end of the building.

Queen Victoria's Statue

The statue of Queen Victoria in front of Warrior Square has suffered various humiliations including being machine gunned during the war (the statue still has a hole in her knee cap) and her head has been a regular place for traffic cones to be used as hats.

Royal Concert Hall

See Elite Cinema


Royal Victoria Buildings

These a group of buildings on the promenade opposite the Royal Victoria hotel. Built by James Burton as baths in the early days of St Leonards and later used as a group of shops which included a post office, milk bar, library, photographic store and a tea shop which proved very popular supplying refreshments to users of the beach.

These buildings suffered damage during the war and many were reduced to empty shells. An eyesore for locals, not to mention those staying at the Royal Victoria Hotel opposite. The weather took it's toll on the buildings too and the block was finally demolished by the council in 1946.

Also see Burton's St Leonards history section

Royal Victoria Hotel

James Burton built this hotel in 1828 and it was enlarged in 1903. The entrance was originally at the back so guests could avoid the seafront weather.

Also see Burton's St Leonards history section


Named after the 18th Century farm that once stood there, Silverhill Junction is where the A21 to London crosses the main road to Battle.

Silverhill Board School

The Silverhill Board School was built on the corner of Sedlesombe Road North and Paynton Road in 1878. The name was changed to Silverhill Council School in 1903. When the new Silverdale Primary School opened nearby at Perth Road, the Junior pupils moved to the new site, but the infants stayed in the original school buildings. The last group of pupils moved to the main site in 1970 and the original building was demolished. The site is now occupied by a block of flats which was built in 1975.

Silverhill Mill / Drapers Mill

The original Silverhill Mill was known as Drapers Mill and was destroyed by fire in 1865. Agricultural Engineers from Catsfield, Upfields, rebuilt the mill for Drapers in 1866. It was in use until 1941 and finally demolished in June 1966 because of its poor condition.

Spyway School

The Spyway School was a co-educational day and boarding school for children from five to eighteen years. Started as the Woodyates Study Centre, the school was founded in 1973 and moved into more spacious premises at Swanage, Dorset in 1976, when it was renamed Spyway School. Moved to Gillmans Hill in St Leonards in 1983, where it remained until closure in July 1990. Planning permission for 33 new homes on the site of the old Spyway School has been granted in 2007.

St Leonards Archway / East Lodge Gateway

St Leonards Archway was built in 1828 and marked the entrance to James Burton’s St Leonards. It was situated on Grand Parade to the East of St Leonards. The archway was later commemorated with a large stone on the seaward side of the road. Council workmen demolished the stone secretly overnight in 1859, much to the horror of local residents. All that remains of the arch today is a large piece of granite by the roadside.

Also see Burton's St Leonards history section

St Leonards Fire Station

Originally based in Mercatoria, and then later moved to Shepherd Street. Staff consisted of 13 fire fighters, a superintendent, a surgeon and a secretary.

St Leonards Gardens

Originally laid out as a private garden for the Burton family, St Leonards Gardens was bought by the town for £9,000 in 1879. The gardens had two ponds and a maze, which proved very popular and gave Maze Hill its name. Gothic-style buildings were built around the wooded valley. The gateway to St Leonards Gardens is an imposing Burton building.

Also see Burton's St Leonards history section

St Leonards Parade

St Leonards Parade was part of James Burton’s Colonnade, which was built in 1830. Marine Court now stands in its place.

Also see Burton's St Leonards history section

St Leonards Pier

Construction began on St. Leonards Pier in March 1888 and it was opened by Lord and Lady Brassey on 28th October 1891 to the annoyance of its rivals the Hastings Pier Company and soon became the first home of the Municipal Orchestra.

Positioned almost opposite the Royal Victoria Hotel, which still stands proud on St Leonards seafront, the shore end had a pavilion at the entrance so that visitors could drive straight to the door and avoid the seafront weather. This pavilion was constructed of intricate ironwork and there was a tollhouse on the left of the entrance that was demolished by a storm on 12th February 1899. The far end of the pier had a building used for dancing and later as a roller hockey rink. During the 20’s the pier was modernised in a way that totally contradicted its Victorian style and reflected the popularity of American films and the cinema at the time.

St Leonards Pier was cut in half during the Second World War as protection against invasion, the beach end suffered a direct hit from an HE bomb on the 4th October 1940. The remains of the pier were removed in 1951.

St Lukes Church

St Luke's church opened in 1857 as an Independent Church, but soon became known as the Silverhill Chapel. Due to Sunday School overcrowding, a larger hall was added, which is now used for Scouts, Jumble Sales and the Silverhill voting poll. In the great storm of 1987 the church spire collapsed through the roof and caused great damage. The spire was soon lifted and the repairs were completed by 1990 with a new, but shorter spire.

St Matthew's Church

The original St Matthew's church was built in 1860 with the porch and tower being added in 1874. The newer, much larger St Matthew's church was built in 1885 right next to the original church. However there were insufficient funds to build a tower and spire on the same scale as the church itself. The old church was replaced by a modern hall in 1959 which before that was used as the Parish room.

St Paul's Church

St. Paul's Church was one of many built in the fashionable town of St Leonards in the 19th-century. Designed in pseudo decorated gothic by John Newton and dedicated in 1868, its tower, curiously reminiscent of a Venetian campanile, was a prominent local landmark. The interior was noted for the unusual richness of its fittings, with a lavish use of marble. It was demolished in the 1960s and Norfolk House now stands in it's place.

Sussex House

Originally built as the Sussex Hotel in 1863. The yard at the back was used as a market and owned by Decimus Burton.

Also see Burton's St Leonards history section.

Tram / Bus Depot

What is now the bus depot in Beaufort Road was originally home to the Hastings tram fleet. The depot saw its first fleet of trams arrive in July 1905, delivered by train at Hastings Railway Station.

Also see Trams & Trolleybuses history section

Turkish Baths

This unique building on the corner of West Hill Road and Quarry Hill was built by the Turkish Bath Company Saint Leonard-on-Sea Limited and run as a Turkish Baths from 1863 to 1869 when the company went into liquidation. The building was taken over by the Uplands School in 1871 and used as a girls swimming pool. Finally became a glass making factory in the latter 20th century.

This historic property is currently empty but still boasts a multitude of period features including original Victorian beamed ceiling, pool surround, stained glass windows and staircase. The original pool is still in tact beneath raised floorboards which were added in the 1930's.

Warrior Square Opera House

See Elite Cinema


Westerleigh School and St Leonards College

Founded in 1906, Westerleigh was a private school situated in Hollington Park Road. In it’s day the campus catered for 360 pupils and employed over 40 teachers.

Westerleigh saw many thousands of pupils pass through, including world motor racing champion James Hunt and many distinguished figures from World War II, as well as Richard Mason, the last person reported to be eaten by cannibals in South America.

St Leonards College, situated on the same site, was founded in 1994 and achieved top ranking in Sussex for five years in GCSE grades A to C.

Pitter-Patter Nursery and creche was also part of the complex.

The whole campus closed in the summer of 2004 due to financial difficulties.

Combe Haven Hastings

Maps of Hastings and St Leonards, East Sussex, UK

Sponsored by Combe Haven Holiday Park - St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex


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