This image shows St Leonards Parade as it was mixed with the scene as it is today.Â The scene in the original photograph was easily recognisable to me. It was only when I overlaid the photo onto the same scene today that the change in the distance between the buildings and the beach became apparent. It is the work by Sid Little that has had this effect, rather that the shingle build up caused by the Harbour Arm further along.
Sidney Littleâ€™s plan to modernise Hastings seafront included underground car parks. To accommodate these, he needed to extend the promenade out toward the sea. Hastings was the first British town to have an underground car park.
The other notable thing about the original image is the attire worn by the people on the beach. It is not possible to estimate the time of year that the photo was taken, but it was a sunny day and not too windy. All the people there are well dressed up, with hardly any bare skin on show. This is another indication of the change that time brings. The photo of St Leonards Parade was taken between 1905 and 1910. The prevailing social attitude was still Victorian, but times and attitudes were to change radically in a short period of time, starting with the Suffragette movement, then the onset of World War 1. This interesting article outlines how the huge changes in social attitude between 1900 and 1950 affected womenâ€™s fashion.
Itâ€™s another reason why I find these old images so fascinating. They show Hastings and Britain just before everything changed. Telephones, radio waves, combustion engines, electricity, flight, teddy bears and tea bags were all just becoming viable for mass development. These are images of society at the cusp of change.
The original picture was taken from the East Sussex Libraries Flickr page which you can access by clicking on the image below. The matching photograph taken by me is below that.