For the first time in over a year my husband and I had a train ride this week to Hastings in East Sussex. Well actually we got off at the previous station, St Leonard’s and walked down the road to the front, passing many charity shops and a few antique emporiums, though some of them had not yet reopened. We then enjoyed a stroll along by the sea and through Bottle Alley, the covered walkway that has thousands of pieces of coloured glass set into concrete.
We had a walk down to the end of Hastings Pier, reading some of the many signs telling its history and of the people and events that have been there in the past. We continued along the prom, noticing the amazing variety of buildings on our left. Then we crossed over to find out about the silver coloured statue on the little island – turned out to be a winkle, mounted on fishing gear, seaweed, rope and fish! The board explained about the Winkle Club, a charity that was set up in 1900 by Hastings fishermen to help the under-privileged families of Hastings Old Town.
Carrying on by the sea we came to the Stade Trail board explaining about the tall black wooden shed nets, the fishermen’s church, the various boats on the beach and so much else too. Both the Fishermen’s Museum and the Shipwreck Museum that we passed looked really interesting but we just didn’t have time to go in, nor take the East Cliff Funicular Railway up to the Country Park, so returned to the Winkle and walked up All Saints’ Street with its high path. Here too were lots of intriguing and ancient buildings, the strangest being the triangular Piece of Cheese Cottage with a metal piece of cheese and mouse perched on its summit, and a plaque saying “celebrated movie stars Mr and Mrs Michael Mouse once spent their summer holidays here”.
Further along, a tablet recorded how during the Civil War in 1643 All Saints Church was occupied by troops and the town’s guns surrendered. Right opposite that proudly stood Hasting’s first Lifeboat from 1931 which took part in the 1940 Operation Dynamo and was eventually rediscovered in France in 2016 and brought back home. By now we felt it was time for us to do the same, so we turned round and gradually made our way along George Street with its cafes and shops, past the West Cliff Railway and up back to Hastings Station for our masked journey home!