I know little about Hastings (apart from the obvious) and St Leonards, but having now read David Russell’s book I feel that I know not only the pubs but also the area very well indeed.I have lost count of the number of pub books and guides I have read over the years but stands out for the impressive level of detailed research; not like some authors who merely lift information from works that have gone before.There is a multitude of well-researched facts and anecdotes here, which bring to life the chosen pubs.We are told about items as diverse as the Nag’s Head’s part in the St Leonard’s bonfire society, the FILO once sold draught milk(!What better than to support the furtherance of public houses in today’s society, by visiting one of the open premises from David’s book and reading the relevant chapter whilst partaking of refreshment there., a brilliant new book by David Russell, looks set to become a treasured local classic.) and the Palace Bars (now the Pig in Paradise) using electricity in 1894 from dynamos installed in caves behind the building.
David Russell’s new book does none of this but instead describes our local pubs in their historic and social context and he does it in a very readable way.
In the summer issue of the PHS Newsletter members were treated to a couple of ‘taster pubs’ from David’s book (the Nag’s Head and the Prince Albert). As a social history of the licensed trade, and a history of its somewhat chequered relationship with the licensing authorities, it is a first class work.
The detail that you have elicited, from any number of sources, bears witness to the enormity of the research that you have undertaken.
“Our drinking habits are changing and pubs are closing down all the time so I felt it was necessary to record this part of our history in case it disappears.
In Hastings especially, pubs have been a major community resource for many years – before the welfare state pubs’ benefit societies were tremendously important.