Home to the largest beach-launched fishing fleet in United Kingdom, according to ‘Visit England’ the official tourist board for England, lies Hastings on the south coast of the country. Hastings’ Pier is at its final stages of a £14m renovation with the goal to finish in the summer of 2015. In addition to new shops and schools being built, the seaside town may be planning to add film festivals and farmers’ markets as yearly events. The town’s projects aim for a fresh new start in gaining publicity in an attempt to improve the Pier’s structure and rebuild its future.
Hastings was, for centuries, an essential fishing port and the town later became a favourite spot for ‘taking the waters’ (therapeutic bathing in the sea) in the 1760s. William the Conqueror, who survived the Battle of Hastings in 1066, (perhaps the most portentous date in English history) built the first castle in England where its remains may still be found in Hastings.
With development and industry taking route came the railway, which transformed Hastings into a seaside resort. Until the improvement of tourism took place, fishing was Hastings’ major industry for over a thousand years, something which may be spotted in the cosmopolitan town’s architectural design and theme. Visitors may even take seafood cookery lessons at Classroom on the Coast to gain a real experience and discover the local cuisine. Next to the museums are the quality black Net Huts, Hastings Fish Market offering fresh fish caught in an environmentally friendly way, fish stalls, seafood restaurants and coffee shops.
Hastings Musical Festival is held every March in the White Rock Theatre since the early 1900s when Dr. Herman Brearley organised a festival ‘for the encouragement of choral singing.’ The Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, now in its 11th year, may continue and their third Priory Meadow Piano Event that has captured the imagination of both locals and visitors aims to open the 2015 Festival. With excellent entries across the board in dancing, singing, instrumental and drama, as well as Choirs Day, Primary School Music Making morning, and the Vocal Pops and Rock sessions. The Festival aims to conclude with the Festival Spectacular Event, when highlights of the three-week Festival may be on show.
There are four museums in Hastings; the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, the Old Town Hall Museum, Hastings Fishermen’s Museum and the Shipwreck Museum. The Jerwood Gallery emphasises the strong local art community and is holding an exhibition by Chantal Joffe until 12 April. The Jerwood Gallery also houses a collection of 20th and 21st century British art that has never before been seen by the public. It is located in the Stade area, in the middle of the fishing quarter.
There are many parks and open spaces located throughout the town, one of the most popular and largest being Alexandra Park opened in 1882 by the Prince and Princess of Wales and is now on the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. The park is popular for its various and galore wildlife, particularly at the Northern end, known as ‘Old Roar Gill’ which is now a Local Nature Reserve. Due to the distance of the coast, numerous rare and scarce migrant birds visit the park including Night Heron, Little Bittern, Honey Buzzard and Ferruginous Duck.
Many church buildings throughout the town are Grade II listed including; Church in the Wood, Ebenezer Particular Baptist Chapel, Fishermen’s Museum and St Mary Magdalene’s Church, all of which possess their own sophisticated history and architectural design.
Hastings has specific family oriented events that may be enjoyed by people of all ages; and its impressive geographical location makes it an significant town well worth a visit.
For more information take a look at Visit England!
How might renovating smaller towns promote a fresh “start” in tourism?