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Miscellaneous History

Coldest Winter

The winter of 1962/3 was very severe and absolutely everything froze including the sea. Snow was cleared from the town centre with bulldozers and trucks and taken to Rock-a-Nore were it was left in a huge pile which didn’t melt until June that summer.

Coghurst Hall

Built by Musgrave Brisco (Conservative MP for Hastings 1844-1857) who also built Christ Church Blacklands.


The ornate chateux-style mansion Normanhurst was built at Catsfield by Thomas Brassey in 1865-71 as his family residence.

The estate was sold following the tragic death of the 2nd Earl Brassey in a road accident in 1918. The mansion became St Hillary's Girls School in 1922.

After extensive damage by military occupation in 1939-45 the mansion was finally demolished in 1951.

St Clements Chapel (Halton)

St Clement's Chapel and Parsonage at Halton was designed by Thomas Catley in 1838 and paid for by Countess Waldegrave. St Clement's was closed in 1970 and later demolished.


The first Hastings lifeboat was built in the mid 1830s. The RNLI took control in 1858.

Steamship Lugano

On 26th April 1906 the SS Lugano was travelling from Baltimore to Hamburg. It was carrying a mixed cargo including cotton, oil and timber. The cotton self ignited and started what became a catastrophic fire. The Hastings lifeboat Charles Arkcoll II gave assistance.

Biddy The Tubman

Alfred Mills "Biddy" Stonham was born in 1879 and worked as a local fisherman, lifeboatman. and Hastings Tubman.

Biddy was a memorable character and was also very courageous. He was presented with the RNLI Silver Medal for bravery in 1904 by King Edward VII.

Best known for his tubman act which was performed just off the beach with a traditional washtub and required great strength and balance. Sometimes young ladies were invited to participate in the entertainment. Donations were then collected from the crowds watching the antics from the beach.

Biddy continued fishing and tubbing until 1963 (aged 84) and passed away a year later.

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