Most establishments that feature in these ramblings I've either supped in or have at least, literally, a passing link to. Occasionally, as with the Cyclists Arms or the Live and Let Live one with which I have no connection at all will creep in. This is one of those posts.
Every so often I come across a picture that makes me smile. Like this one.
I'm not really sure why I was drawn to this shot of a youngster with Guinness advertising material taken in 1962 in Hastings, but being raised in a seaside town in the 1960s myself, complete with fair hair, short trousers, Clark's sensible sandals and memories of the Guinness Clock on the seafront each summer, something in it just resonated. Oh! And there was that pub. The Rising Sun. Does it still exist today?
The coast of East Anglia I'm familiar with, as I am with the traethau a baeau of north Wales and Anglesey. Littoral lengths of Ayrshire and north Yorkshire have also featured a fair bit in my life but my experience of England's south coast is pretty limited. I did once attend a conference in Eastbourne, or it might've been Bournemouth, but that's about it. What do I know of Hastings? Nothing really, other than it has a lifeboat station housing a new Shannon class all-weather boat and that the battle didn't take place there, so it's into the directories I dive.
The earliest record that comes up for me is that deeds show that in December 1855 it was sold by a William Shadwell Esq. to Henry Stevenson, an innkeeper. I'm not sure if Henry was actually at the Rising Sun at the time of the transaction but he's certainly there in 1858 according to Melville's directory. He sees out the 1861 census and the publishing of the Post Office directory six years later, but by the time the census comes around again he's retired and his brother-in-law Jesse Ransom's moved in.
Jesse shuffles off this mortal coil on 12th March 1874. Widowhood couldn't have suited his spouse, Mary, for she joins him in the choir invisible just two days later. The house stays within the family though, with Mary's younger brother Joseph taking over the reins as borne out by the 1881 census.
A decade later Joseph's moved on to the Clarence Hotel and a George Brown is mine host. It's during his tenure that the pub is sold by Henry Stevenson's heirs, or actually Henry's heir's heirs. The National Archives holds records showing its sale, together with neighbouring stabling, to the Star Brewery in Eastbourne in April 1895, for £2025. It might also have been during his tenure that the house was specially licensed to serve at 4.30a.m. allowing fishermen returning with their night-time catch to refresh themselves. Thirsty work, fishing.
George stays with his new landlord for a bit as he's still there in the 1901 census but in 1903 a Thomas McGrath becomes the new tenant.
In 1906, after just three years Thomas passes the license to his brother-in-law, Robert Reed, who's still serving the pints when census time rolls around again five years later.
The picture below is reputed to have been taken in 1910, but it certainly seems that Robert Reed was licensee then. Quite when G. Chandler had the pub I've not been able to establish, but it's highly likely to be post-1911.
And it's here that my digging has to stop as I've run out of sources for a pub that's well out of any normal catchment for me. I do know that it was in the phone book up until 1969 (Hastings 2147) but vanished from the following year's edition. So, to answer the question which I posed at the start of this piece – no, the Rising Sun no longer exists today. It closed in 1970 and currently earns its living as a restaurant.
So we now know what happened to the Rising Sun, but what of the lad in the 1962 photo? John Law didn't say what became of the elephant jockey, or even indicate if it was himself, but I thank him for permission to use the shot.
Thanks also to David and Lynda Russell for the use of shots taken from their website www.hastingspubhistory.com where more can be found about the Rising Sun and loads of other Hastings boozers - some bygone, some not.
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