The Hastings UK Guide


Miscellaneous History


German Submarine U118

An empty German submarine was washed ashore on the beach in front of Denmark Place in 1919. The submarine U118 had broken its towrope on the way from Cherbourg to Scapa Flow. It was welcomed as an unusual Easter attraction until a build-up of chlorine gas poisoned a group of coastguards, one of whom died on 21 February 1920. U118 was an extremely large submarine for its time and having surrendered to France on 23rd February 1919, it was eventually broken up at Brest during July 1921.

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 Andrews Arch

The railway bridge at the top of Queens Road was originally a low brick built arch, known as St Andrews Arch. This effectively marked the town boundary at the time and there was little development beyond this point. St Andrews Arch was replaced by the iron railway bridge in 1898 which is still in use today.

St Andrews Gardens

Created from disused brick fields in 1864 as a subscription garden. Extended and renamed Alexandra Park in 1882.

St Andrew's Church

Opened as an evangelical church in 1870. The first vicar was George Hodges, previously of Christ Church Ore. An additional aisle was added in 1873 to accommodate an ever growing congregation.

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.

Alexandra Park Boating Lake

U118 on Hastings Beach


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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