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Home Explore 8 Rock a Nore to De La Warr Look Inside

8 Rock a Nore to De La Warr Look Inside

Published by History Walks Talks and Books, 2019-07-22 05:30:39

Description: History Walks are more than just steps on a footpath
This is a walk that starts at Rock a Nore, at the easterly extreme of Hastings, and finishes at the De La Warr - that grand art deco pavilion on Bexhill’s promenade.
It is an historic route with much to occupy the imagination.
It is a hop on and hop off kind of walk, do as little or as much as you want but it is not a race.
Take your time and enjoy the history with plenty of opportunity to stop for tea, coffee and, if warm enough, ice creams with a Stagecoach bus to take you home.

Keywords: Walking, David Clarke, History Walks, Short Walks in 1066 Country, Hastings,Bexhill,Rock a Nore,De La Warr,Bus Walks


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David Clarke has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998 to be identified as the author of this work. Text, maps and photographs are Copyright © David Clarke 21 December 2017. All rights reserved. st No reproduction permitted without the prior consent of the author. At the time of writing, all routes follow public rights of way or permitted paths. However, diversions can be made at any time and permissions withdrawn – for which I cannot be held responsible – and care should be taken to abide by any local restrictions after the writing of this walk. For public transport; changes to timetables can be made at any time and it is important to check that the services and schedules are still current before your walk. Remember sun protection and a hat for hot days and waterproofs for that hint of rain. This walk allows walkers to explore Hastings, St Leonards and Bexhill and to help preserve the walk for others, remember to: • Keep dogs under control • Protect wildlife, plants and trees • Take litter home or dispose of it appropriately • Take special care when walking by and crossing roads • Do not play music loudly or create excessive noise History Walks or David Clarke do not accept any responsibility for any injuries or losses which may occur on History Walks 8: Rock a Nore to De La Warr. Walkers are advised to ensure that their personal insurance cover is adequate and are advised to carry their own basic first aid kit. Some helpful websites before you start: ▪ Stagecoach ▪ Traveline ▪ Weather Forecast ▪ What Pub ▪ Bexhill Information about the pubs, beers, contact details and opening hours are shown on the CAMRA WhatPub web site at: Cover: West St Leonards Beach

History Walks No.8 Rock a Nore to De La Warr Walking from Hastings to Bexhill A Bus Walk

Old and New More than two thousand years of history, from the Iron Age, the Roman and Norman invasions and conquest, fishing fleets, smugglers gangs and Georgian (and later) property speculators have all left their mark on the coastline. It is a timeline from Old Town Hastings in the east to the ‘new’ Hastings Town, St Leonards on Sea and on to Bexhill, the epitome of a speculative sea side resort encouraged by the arrival of the railway in 1846 and developed by the Earls De La Warr. Great storms and the shifting shingle drift have all contributed to the changing of the shape of the coastline, blocking off Hasting’s Roman and Medieval ports. Once this coastline was lined with inlets and the sea reached inland as far as Crowhurst. The Danish had a haven at Bulverhythe and Duke William used the wide expanse of the beach, that stretched from Pevensey, as the landing place for his invasion fleet of 700 ships. Now lined by the railway, this isolated marsh was home to fishermen, a couple of beer houses and smuggling gangs such as the Hooe Company, the Groombridge and Hawkhurst Gangs and patrolled by the Preventative men. It was a wild and desolate coast, hard to imagine now but away from Bexhill, and after Cooden Beach towards Pevensey, are the Hooe Levels that still preserve that timeless space and it would be easy to imagine a dark night two hundred years ago and ‘A score of men, some standing in groups, some resting on the ground, and the dark shapes of pack horses showing larger in the dimness. There were a few muttered words of greeting as they all waited, waited for the first boat’s nose to grind on the shingle. Then all fell to the business of landing and later, to file away from the beach along the paths when something moves behind the brambles…..’(with acknowledgement to ‘Moonfleet’ by J Meade Falkner) Later, at Galley Hill near Bexhill there is a story board that recounts the history of one such smuggling gang, the Little Common Gang, falling foul of the Preventative Men that resulted in the infamous Battle of Sidley Green. Do not fear, all is quiet now on Galley Hill.

It is a coastline that has seen little change in the last 100 years except for the revitalised and regenerated pier and the art deco Marine Court and De La Warr Pavilion. It is a coastline that has not been sacrificed to tat, that has one of the finest residential squares on the south coast and that it is being slowly regenerated through urban chic that will preserve the heritage of Hastings and Bexhill. I believe that it is a seafront that compares more than favourably with any resort on the south coast with the life and vibrancy of Hastings and St Leonards that is balanced by a quieter Bexhill. Stick to the prom and there are plenty of stops for tea or coffee, the occasional pub and an almost level walk to Bexhill. At low tide, some of the best views are from the beach, on the hard sand between sea and shingle - if the tide is in walk on the prom and take the easy path to Bexhill, believe me, the shingle is very hard going. The start is at the Jerwood Gallery, walking east to the end of Rock a Nore before turning back along the coastal path to Bexhill. It is a stop on, stop off type of walk doing as much or as little as you want with a bus back to Hastings at regular intervals. Enjoy the walk in your own time - it is not a race! Reflections Hastings to Bexhill is a classic walk along the seafront - walked, run and cycled by many – anxious to achieve a personal best or pace out on a timed walk. Rock a Nore to De La Warr is a traffic free route although the path is shared with cyclists, of all shapes, sizes and speed. This is another in the series of History Walks in 1066 Country and an opportunity to share all that is good about the coast between Hastings, St Leonards on Sea and Bexhill that was once a series of headlands, marsh, secluded coves and smuggler’s beaches, ideal for landing contraband. By 1830 smuggling was in decline and developers such as James and Decimus Burton in St Leonards and Earl De La Warr in Bexhill had their eye on leaving their legacy of seaside design with smart new seaside towns, terraces and promenades that prospered from the coming of the railway.

This fascinating History Walk will allow you to discover and explore the coastline between Hastings and Bexhill and although the route is easy to navigate, the history of this coastline is often not appreciated fully. Some of the narrative has already appeared in other walks in the series but much is new and takes you on a journey from pre-1066 to the 20 century. th Rock a Nore The far end of Hastings, the furthest you could go. A few cottages and rough shelters lying at the foot of the black rocks of East Hill, the black rocks that would eventually give their name to Rock a Nore (noire). It was once known as East Beach Street and the shore line was much closer to the cliffs. By the early 19 century, the long-shore drift and regular th storms had pushed the shingle eastwards destroying the stade (landing place) from which the fishing boats were launched. Finally, the council acted and in 1834 they built a groyne at the end of East Beach Street which halted the shingle and created a large spit of land that was soon appropriated for the building of the now famous net shops – the tall black wooden sheds built to provide a weather-proof store for the fishing gear and the limited space meant the sheds had to grow upwards. 1856 saw the opening of the new Fishermen’s Church, now the Fisherman’s Museum and in 1859, East Beach Street was renamed Rock- a-Nore Road. The Net Huts These unique black net huts, usually with three stories one above the other, stand an average of 7½ metres high and are built of clinker weather boarding. They were originally used as workshops and storage for nets, sails and ropes but with the changeover to nylon nets there is less need for workshops and they are now mainly used for storage. Over the past 150 years, many of the original huts have been destroyed by gales and high seas and the council demolished some during the 1950’s to clear the beach area for development. However, around 45 net huts remain and they are considered to be one of Hastings most famous and internationally known landmarks.

Hastings Inexorably linked to the sea, Hastings had always provided a safe-haven for boats perhaps from the time of the Iron Age settlement on East Hill. By 1066, the town that Duke William annexed lined the banks of the Priory Stream (now under the present town centre) and stood in the shadow of West Hill, sheltered by the headland known as White Rock. It was a natural harbour, possibly the best on the south coast, but in the great storms of the late 13 century the harbour th was effectively blocked by shingle and debris and the boats moved to the banks of the Bourne and Hastings Old Town started to develop as a fishing village. Within 150 years, the Bourne too became blocked, with the boats being launched from the Stade, and in Elizabethan times a wooden harbour was built to protect the fleet but it was not long before it too was washed away in another inconvenient storm. The site of the Elizabethan harbour now lies under the Boating Lake. During the 16 , 17 and late 19 centuries there had been many attempts th th th to build a harbour with little success. Fraud, poor building and the ferocious weather all played their part but the fishing fleet survived to become Europe’s largest beach-launched fleet and vital part of the town’s heritage. Marvel at The New Hastings Pier It was in the very early hours of the morning of the 5 October 2010 when th the night sky was lit up by soaring flames, encouraged by a stiff westerly breeze, and the fire quickly spread from the ballroom along the whole length of Hastings Pier. Almost all the buildings were destroyed, apart from what was the café bar on the western edge, the decking was scorched and burnt, and the ballroom, became a twisted metal sculpture and acted as a reminder of all the famous bands that had played ‘at the end of the pier’. Designed by Eugenius Birch, Hastings Pier officially opened on the very first Bank Holiday, 5 August 1872, with a great celebratory banquet in th the pier’s oriental style pavilion. In true English fashion the pier was used

for concerts, plays and dances and once hosted an ‘American Bowling Alley’, before fire destroyed the pier in 1917. The between war years were the heydays of the rebuilt pier’s popularity when there was little thought of seaside holidays abroad and for many holiday makers and day trippers a walk along the pier was the nearest they would get to the Continent. Temporarily closed for the Second World War, it came alive again to the sounds of the rock and the beat of the Swinging Sixties and the 1970s, with The Rolling Stones, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, The Hollies, The Clash and The Sex Pistols among the bands that played at the end of Hastings Pier. It has been a long journey, but the rehabilitation of the pier is complete and ready once more to receive visitors. Walk to the end for the best views of Hastings and St Leonards and all the way round to Galley Hill and Bexhill. St Leonards on Sea To the west of the Priory valley stood the White Rock that for centuries barred progress towards Bexhill until it was removed in 1834/5 (allowing for the expansion of Hastings along the coast) to link with the new development of Burton St Leonards. James Burton had made his money building much of Georgian London, collaborating with John Nash to build Regent’s Park. It was James’s inspiration and driving force behind a new concept to develop a great new composition of villas, with grand colonnaded terraces, and a hotel as the centrepiece for a new town by the sea that was to become St Leonards on Sea Granville, writing in 1841, commented ‘We should look in vain on any other coast in England for such a range of buildings as those he (Burton) has raised below St Leonards Cliff; of a superior order, though not so ornamented as some of his previous structures. None but the unrivalled crescents of Bath and Bristol is superior to the Marina of St Leonards’. (Spas of England and Principal Sea-Bathing Places A.B. Granville, 1841).’ (Hastings Borough Council, St Leonards on Sea Conservation Area Character Appraisal) It was the first new seaside resort for the wealthy and became instantly popular with royalty and aristocracy. Service areas for the new town included shopping (Mercatoria) and laundry (Lavatoria). The railway

arrived in 1845 and St Leonards Gensing Road Station (now Warrior Square Station) was opened in 1852. St Leonards prospered and expanded until it merged with Hastings in 1875. The demolition of Burtons’ St. Leonard’s Arch in 1895 allowed the road to develop between Hastings and the new town and when The Hastings Tramways Company opened a new depot at Bulverhythe, a tramway was established along the seafront to Bexhill and Cooden, then called Kewhurst. Most of the properties along the sea front date from Victorian times, except for Marine Court which, despite the controversy when it was built, acts as a beacon all the way round to Eastbourne Bexhill on Sea The old town of Bexhill stands on a hill a little more than half a mile from the sea. There was a settlement there during King Offa’s reign in the 8 th century but in 1066, this staunchly Saxon settlement was largely destroyed during the Norman invasion. At that time, the sea most likely lapped at the foot of the hill and, during the same great storms that had affected Hastings, the sea receded creating a similar marsh to the Bulverhythe Flats, Combe Haven and the Hooe and Pevensey Levels. The coming of the railway finally created an easy connection to the world outside Sussex, long seen as a backwater, but it would be another thirty years or so before the 7th Earl De La Warr decided to create an exclusive seaside resort. A sea wall was built and the De La Warr Parade laid out. The luxurious Sackville Hotel opened in 1890 of which the eastern half was for the use of the Earl’s family. At the eastern end of the Parade, opposite the Grand Mansions, was a pavilion for ‘refined entertainment and relaxation’ (The 1 Kursaal ) was built and opened in 1898 although the intended pier was never completed. For those with more energy, the 8 Earl commissioned a Bicycle Boulevard th that stretched from the Parade to the foot of Galley Hill. 1 Literally: a cure room, a public room at a health resort (german)

In 1896, you could buy a ticket to use the track, hire a bicycle and even have riding lessons for this new craze of the well to do. 2 Bexhill became an Incorporated Borough in 1902, the last town in Sussex to be so incorporated. It was the first time a Royal Charter was delivered by motor car and to celebrate the event, the country’s first ever motor car race was held on the Bicycle Boulevard - hopefully, without cyclists in the way! It was the 9th Earl De La Warr who is best known for promoting the building of the De La Warr Pavilion, opened 1935, and which is the most fitting end to this walk. De La Warr Pavilion The most famous building in Bexhill and one of the best early examples of the International Modernist style that developed in the 1920s and 1930s. There is an Art Deco similarity with Marine Court but the De La Warr excels in its simplicity of form, little ornament and its use of glass, steel and concrete as preferred materials. Championed by the 9th Earl De La Warr, it was the first welded steel frame public building in the country but, like Marine Court, the modern style was a shock to many of Bexhill's inhabitants who shared some disbelief over the cost. But it has survived, renovated and regenerated and re-opened in 2005. There is no better place to celebrate the end of the is walk with lunch on a fine day sitting on the first-floor veranda sharing a bottle of chilled rosé and at peace with sublime Bexhill. Information Distance: 6.80 miles Time: 2½ hours but it can take all day 2 For more information visit:

Travel All walks start at Winkle Island, return is by bus or train from Bexhill. From Hastings Bus and Train Stations catch the bus to Rock a Nore - Stagecoach Nos 20, 100 101 - or of course walk down from the station, down Havelock Road towards the sea and turn east and walk along the seafront to the Jerwood Gallery to cross the road to Winkle Island. Refreshments Hastings: Too numerous to mention although The Pier makes a good stop in the first section. The Bo Peep at West Leonards is around the halfway point with the next stop at Glynde Gap where there is a Beach Café and an opportunity to buy a picnic from M&S or Tesco. Bexhill: The De La Warr Café provides that special finish but as with Hastings there are cafes and restaurants to suit every taste. Note: At Bexhill, there are play fountains by the Colonnade were children enjoy getting wet - remember swimming clothes and towel to avoid your children’s disappointment. The Walk The iconic Winkle Island is more than a fitting start to the walk from Rock a Nore to De La Warr but before the walk to Bexhill there is Rock a Nore to explore where there is a story board about the famous Hastings Winkle Club by the shiny winkle. Across the road is the Jerwood Gallery, styled in a similar dark wood vein to the black and almost gothic net shops that line the road. Opened in 2012, it features contemporary art in both permanent and temporary collections

From Winkle Island, walk past the Dolphin Inn, cross the road and continue along Rock a Nore. In the infills, there are boats and memorabilia from Hastings fishing past and in the first such space is the RX134 Stacey Marie (RX is the registration code for the Rye and Hastings fishing fleet). On the side of a net shop is a poster for The Stade Trail for which a downloadable leaflet can be found on the Visit 1066 Country website. Reaching up the cliff is the East Hill Lift and through a gap in the sheds is the Hastings Miniature Railway that will be seen more closely on the return from the end of Rock a Nore. The East Hill Lift, built some ten years later than the West Hill, was first opened in April 1902 with the original Victorian cars still in use today. It is the steepest funicular railway in the country with an angle of 38 degrees (1 in 2.8 gradient). Further along is the new Ice House, complete with apartments and, at the moment, empty shops. The original large Ice House was built in 1899 and the ice was used to pack the fish caught by the fishing fleet. Just before the Fisherman’s Museum is an eclectic outdoor collection of fishing boats, houses and other relics and The RX74 Edward and Mary is of particular interest as it helped with the Dunkirk evacuation in1940.

The complete Guidebook to the walk contains history notes, maps and step by step walking instructions to make your life easier to enjoy the rich history of this walk from…. About the Author David lives in St Leonards on Sea, East Sussex, and walks, talks and writes about walking, local history and all things 1066. He is a member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild and considers that his membership of CAMRA, The Inn Sign Society, The Ramblers and the Long Distance Walkers Association to be a perfect match for walking. He is the author and creator of 1066 Harold’s Way, a 100mile long distance walk inspired by King Harold’s epic march to the Battle of Hastings, 1066. Long Distance Walks 1. 1066 Harold’s Way 2. Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House Books 1. The Saxon Times History Walks around 1066 Country 1. A Green St Leonards on Sea Walk 2. Battle Circular Walks 3. 1066 Bodiam Castle to Battle Abbey via Vinehall 4. Hastings to Rye 5. Secret St Leonards Walking Trail 6. Pub Walks in Hastings and St Leonards 7. 1066 William’s Way, Hastings to Battle 8. Rock a Nore to De La Warr 9. Pub Walks in 1066 Country 10. A Walk around Rye 11. A Walk around Winchelsea 12. More Walks around Rye

History Walks No.8 Rock a Nore to De La Warr History Walks are more than just steps on a footpath This is a walk that starts at Rock a Nore, at the easterly extreme of Hastings, and finishes at the De La Warr - that grand art deco pavilion on Bexhill’s promenade. It is an historic route with much to occupy the imagination. It is a hop on and hop off kind of walk, do as little or as much as you want but it is not a race. Take your time and enjoy the history with plenty of opportunity to stop for tea, coffee and, if warm enough, ice creams with a Stagecoach bus to take you home. ‘Rock a Nore to De La Warr’ is published by: History Walks, Marine Court, St Leonards on Sea and printed by Instant Print £3.00 Revised April 2018

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