Royal Flying Corps

A group of Royal Flying Corps Cadets at Bathing parade. Hastings and St Leonards billeted many service men for training during WW1. This interesting 10 minute BBC documentary provides an insight into the town during those days.

The original was taken at White Rock Gardens, Hastings and published in the Hastings & St Leonards Pictorial Advertiser on 6th September 1917.

The two photographs used to create the image, and the final combined image are below. You can view the top image full size on my Flickr page by clicking on it.

This image is part of a continuing series of Then and Now images I’ve created for East Sussex Council’s World War 1 commemoration website. The website is focused on the contribution that the men and women of East Sussex made towards the war effort.

The View from the West Hill

View from the West HillThe West Hill in Hastings is an open space that separates the Old Town with the town centre. As well as the castle and smugglers caves, the hill was once the site of a windmill and used for farming.View from the West Hill

Now it is a pleasant green space that offers, as it always has, the best views of Hastings. Here a some photos of those views taken as morning showers left the town and headed over the channel.View from the West HillThese photographs can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.

Bottle Alley

Bottle AlleyBottle Alley is the 480 meter long lower deck of Hastings Promenade that runs between the Pier and Warrior Square. It was built in the 1930’s by Sidney Little the ‘Concrete King’ of the South Coast. He loved concrete and also designed the baths at White Rock and West Marina, as well as the sea defences. His expertise was used by the Admiralty to assist in the design of the Mulberry Harbours used at Normandy after the D Day landings.Bottle Alley

It’s called Bottle Alley because embedded into the concrete wall are countless multicoloured pieces of broken glass bottles. It was for a long time a haunt for the local drunks. Your nose would be assaulted by the fragrant mix of the sea, spilt alcohol and urine as you walked down it. It was place to be avoided, especially at night. Recently though, it has been renovated and repainted. A kayak hire business now operates from a unit halfway along it, so now it’s a much more pleasant walk. I’d still avoid walking down it on my own at night though.

These photographs can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.

Cliff End

Cliff EndCliff End at Fairlight marks the point where Pett Level starts. On the beach, below the cliffs, you can see millions of years of geological and natural history all within the same area. On that beach are fossil evidence and footprints of dinosaurs, the remains of a Bronze Age forest and the detritus of the modern world.Dinosaur FootprintThe footprint above is one of several found along this stretch of Cliff End beach. It’s likely to have been an Iguanodon, who left the footprint whilst grazing near a river. The beach is full of huge rocks that have fallen from the cliffs above. This stretch of cliffs all the way west to Hastings is highly unstable, and is slowly falling into the sea. Looking at them, it is clear why this is happening. Great fissures run up and along them, which are easily widened by plant roots, rain water and the endless work of the sea.Cliff EndThe geology here is fascinating, and best explained on this website. The Bronze Age forest, which is around 6,000 years old is found a short distance from the cliffs, and is visible when the tide is low. pett-level-walk-4This BBC article provides a good history about these ancient forests. Lots of other things can be seen on the beach, and the modern world is well represented. Most notably along this stretch is the axle and wheel stuck between some rocks. Cliff EndCliff End beach is a great place for a seaside walk, particularly at low tide, when the rock pools and sand is revealed. It is even more enjoyable knowing that in one 360 degree view you can see a substantial part of the history of the Earth.pett-level-walk-6All of these photographs can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.

Small Creatures

Small CreaturesAlexandra Park is a great place to take a walk and one of the highlights of living in Hastings. I visit the park many times in a year, and enjoy the changing colours across the seasons. In the late summer warmth there were plenty of small creatures to be seen among the flower beds and ponds. Small Creatures

It is easy to miss them when taking in the wider view, but I have started to take more of an interest in photographing the small things. After all, there are only so many general photographs of the park you can take before they all start looking the same.Small CreatuesThere is much beauty to be found when looking closely at the smaller world, as I hope these photographs show.Dragonfly

These photographs can be viewed full size on my Flickr account by clicking on them.

Between Rain Showers

Between Rain ShowersQuite often I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time when it comes to rain. On this day however I was lucky enough to have picked the part of Bexhill beach that lay between rain showers.

So, at low tide, on a typical summer’s day I was able to get these photographs of the rain showers as they passed over Hastings and Bexhill. I stayed dry for a change.

These photographs can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.Between Rain Showers

Ghosts of Carlisle Parade

Carlisle Parade
Ghosts of Hastings

Carlisle Parade has remained relatively unchanged in the years since this military parade took place. The question here is what is the military parade for? The original photograph was in the Hastings Forum, which is part of the 1066 Online website. Contributors there suggest it took place to mark the end of the Boer War, in which the 1st Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers took part.

At that time the Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers had adopted blue slouch hats with a blue plume upon their return from South Africa, and would still have been dressed in red tunics as shown here.

Through my work with the Hastings & St Leonards Pictorial Advertiser, I have found the answer. The photo is from a medal presentation ceremony by the Canadian Army, who were stationed in Hastings in February 1917. Further on in this post is copy of the article presented in the paper. It is likely to be the presentation of the Military Medal to Private W F Ede of the 52nd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force. He was awarded the medal for carrying a wounded comrade away from battle whilst under fire.

The merged image can be viewed in a larger size on my Flickr page by clicking on it, and the photo used to create the image are below.Carlisle Parade

Carlisle Parade

Military Medal Presentation


Royal Military Canal

Royal Military Canal

The Royal Military Canal stretches 28 miles from Cliff End at Pett to Seabrook at Hythe. This canal wasn’t created for trade however. It was built as a defensive line, a third line of defence against the expected invasion by Napoleon. Had he made an attempt to invade, he would first need to defeat the Royal Navy. That done the line of Martello Towers would next need to be overcome. If they made it past the towers, they would then face the Military Canal.

Started in 1804, it took 4.5 years to construct at a cost of about 19.5 million in today’s money. Napoleon was defeated at Trafalgar in 1805, which pretty much ended his ambitions of invading Britain. So the canal was obsolete by the time it was finished.

Royal Military CanalThere is a break in the man made canal; at Winchelsea where it meets the River Brede and at Iden Lock where it meets the River Rother. The rivers take up the job of being the water barrier. It is the third largest defensive structure in the UK, after Hadrian’s Wall and Offa’s Dyke.

Royal Military Canal

A good defensive structure never ages, so when Britain was again under threat of invasion, this time by the Germans, it was again used as part of a network of defences. Pill boxes were constructed along its length, some of which are still around.

Royal Military Canal

The canal continues to serve an important function across Romney Marsh, acting as a source of water for irrigation during the summer and an outlet for flood water during the winter. It is also a haven for wildlife and fish as well as being very picturesque.Royal Military Canal



It is that time of the year when Bluebells have bloomed. They can be found in many parts of Europe, from Spain to Germany and they have been introduced to the USA as well. Luckily for Great Britain, we get the dense fields of them in woodlands which isn’t as common in the other places that they grow. We have perhaps 50% of the global population of the flower.

Dense patches of bluebells in forests are an indicator of ancient woodland, or in other words, the woods they grow in have been there since at least the 15th century. These woods will have developed naturally as cultivation of forests didn’t start until more recent times. There is plenty of woodland like that around Hastings and Battle. I’m lucky enough to live next door to some, and even better I don’t have to pay to enjoy them.

Where ever you find bluebells there are also Wood Anemones, another flower found in ancient woodland. It too is a pretty flower, but doesn’t get the attention that the bluebell does. As pretty at it is, it is fairly poisonous, so don’t be tempted to eat one.

These photos can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.Wood Anemone


The View from Rye Church Tower

Rye Church

The view from Rye Church Tower is fantastic and worth experiencing if you ever visit the town. It is accessed from inside the church for a small fee. The climb to the top takes you through very narrow passages and rickety steps. You’ll see an original 15th century clock mechanism, and a full array of the church bells. Interestingly, one of the original bells was stolen during a French raid during the 13th century. It was recovered the following year from Normandy during a raid by men of Rye and Winchelsea and put to use as attack warning bells. There it stayed for nearly 300 years before being restored to the church. The old bells were replaced entirely during the 1700’s and these are the ones on display now.

You can still get a good sense of how the town would have been when it was part of the Cinque Ports even though the landscape has changed substantially since.  The flat land that now makes up Pett Level and Romney Marsh would have been wetlands. The Rother would have been a substantial tidal river, five or six times wider than it is now. This map provides an idea how the land used to look.

These photos can be viewed full size on my Flickr page by clicking on them.

Rye Church