In my post on St Leonards in the newspapers, 1828-29 I missed many items because I did not search for “new town” in connection with Hastings. Many of these, given below, are of great interest, with details of the construction work and, sadly, accidents to the many workmen involved. It is interesting that by March 1829 a thousand workers were involved.
7 April 1828, Sussex Advertiser:
Hastings. Increased preparations are making for the building of the New Town; great quantities of scaffolding and materials have been landed from a sloop, and conveyed in waggons to their destination. – Groyns have been constructed to keep the accumulated beach from being washed away, and to act as a greater defence to the newly-erected wall, and houses, which have already been commenced. – Many of the workmen employed, belong to different parishes, and we should hope that this may operate in some measure to lessen the parochial rates, while it will hold out cheering prospects to the labourers, and enable many of them to procure a livelihood in their own country, without being under the necessity of seeking it in a foreign land.
28 April 1828, Sussex Advertiser:
On Friday morning, one of the labourers at the New Town Hastings, named Catt, was accidentally killed, by the sudden falling of a portion of the rock, under which he was employed. A few days previously, another of the workmen at the above place, received considerable injury from the point of a mattock, which perforated the back part of one of his thighs.
5 May 1828, Sussex Advertiser:
On Saturday an Inquisition was taken on view of the body of the poor man who was accidentally killed by the falling of a large portion of the rock, a few days before, as mentioned in our last, when a Verdict of Accidental Death was returned.
A new town is now building upon the Coast about half a mile from Hastings, pleasantly situated in a sheltered and fertile valley; and upon which 500 labourers are already employed. – Indeed so confident are the folk hereabouts of the rising worth of the surrounding country that speculative buildings are every where going on with unceasing rapidity.
9 June 1828, Sussex Advertiser:
Hastings. The operations at the New Town are proceeding with the utmost activity, an increased number of workmen having been recently engaged, and employed in the different departments.
19 June 1828, Brighton Gazette:
Hastings. June 17. – The buildings at the new town about a mile to the westward, are rapidly proceeding; the exterior of the hotel and many of the houses being very nearly completed, upwards of 300 labourers are now employed, which, together with the beauty of the situation, forma scene that cannot fail to be interesting to the spectator.
22 September 1828, Sussex Advertiser:
The road from the turnpike near Balslow, through Hollington to the New Town, has lately undergone considerable reparations, and will be shortly rendered passable for carriages…
1 January 1829, Brighton Gazette:
Hastings. A most distressing incident occurred on Monday at the New Town, by the falling in of the front of one of the houses lately erected, occasioned by the blowing up of the rock immediately behind the house. Three men were in the house at the time, and were all very much injured; two are very seriously hurt, the other not so much. Medical assistance was immediately procured, and we understand that hopes are entertained of their ultimate recovery.
5 January 1829, Sussex Advertiser:
Hastings. Several of the workmen at the New Town, sustained considerable injury on Monday morning, in consequence of the falling of some columns and scaffolding. One of the men received a lacerated wound in the scalp, of an extensive description, nearly nine inches in length, another also had his head violently contused, tending to concussion of the brain, and others were bruised in various parts of the body. Subscriptions have been opened at the Libraries for the relief of the sufferers.
29 January 1829, Brighton Gazette:
Hastings. In consequence of the unusually severe weather, the works at the New Town are quite stopped, and a great number of workmen thrown out of employ. The frost is now quite broken up, and the thermometer, on Monday at two o’Clock, was 43.
5 February 1829, Brighton Gazette:
HASTINGS. We regret to state that five new houses erecting at the New Town, fell down with a most terrific crash on Friday evening last. Fortunately all the workmen had left the buildings, or the consequences must have been dreadful. As it is, no one has been injured, though great alarm was at first entertained. Their fall is attributed to frost, and to their being improperly constructed. Several adjoining houses also are said to be in a very insecure state, so much so that it is expected they must be taken down.[The Sussex Advertiser, 9 Feb, has a brief notice on this, stating that the buildings will be rebuilt from their foundations]
16 February 1829, Sussex Advertiser:
Hastings. Some of the men employed at the New Town, were on Monday taken to the watch-house on a charge of riotous behaviour, and assaulting a butcher and another person at the Priory, and on Tuesday they were examined before a Magistrate, who bound them over to appear at the next Quarter Sessions to answer the complaint.
2 March 1829, Sussex Advertiser:
Hastings. The improvements at the New Town, are rapidly going on, and it is said, that in the course of a short period, upwards of a thousand men will be employed upon this extensive undertaking.
14 May 1829, Brighton Gazette:
HASTINGS. DREADFUL ACCIDENT. – A melancholy accident took place on Friday last, at the New Town, by which a fine healthy man in the prime of life was suddenly called out of existence, and another person seriously injured. The accident was occasioned by the breaking of the putlog, part of the scaffolding, by which the sufferers were precipitated from a height of 33 feet. The deceased unfortunately fell to the ground, while the survivor saved himself by catching hold of one of the window cells. The deceased was about 29 years of age, a married man with one child, who came from the neighbourhood of Maidstone. We understand that he had contracted with his employers for a certain period, which expired the next day, when he had intended to return home. An Inquest was held on the body on Saturday, when a verdict of “Accidental Death” was returned. The survivor, though much bruised, is now in a fair way of recovery.
18 May 1829, Sussex Advertiser:
HASTINGS. On Friday last two men received considerable injury at the New Town, in consequence of the scaffolding of one of the buildings have given way; one of whom died within twenty minutes after the accident, whilst he was being conveyed to Hastings, the other soon recovered. – On Wednesday, another of the workmen was greatly injured on the head, from the falling of a stone; and this morning a man from a similar cause, received a violent contusion on the hand, which lacerated the integuments and muscles, and fractured one of his fingers.
25 May 1829, Sussex Advertiser:
Hastings. At the New Town, the recently erected buildings are in a great state of forwardness, and many houses are already occupied by persons who intend to pursue various businesses.
16 July 1829, Brighton Gazette:
HASTINGS. This delightful watering place is filling quite fast. The daily arrivals give employment to our innkeepers; nearly all the best houses are let, and we look forward to a prosperous season. Great improvements have taken place since last year. The new town reflects great credit on Mr Burton, the rapidity with which it has been erected astonishes every one; it is now near its completion.
24 August 1829, Sussex Advertiser:
For the Sussex Advertiser. Having frequently read an account, in the different Papers, of the charms of Hastings, I have been induced to visit that celebrated place, which I think preferable to many of the watering places on the Coast of Sussex, on account of the romantic scenery in the adjacent villages – There is a new Town building on a magnificent scale, about a mile from this spot, which I have no doubt will be readily inhabited. – The houses have a handsome appearance, and are well adapted for the reception of genteel families…
31 August 1829, Sussex Advertiser:
Hastings… On Thursday three houses were licenced at the New Town, the principal one is to be called the St Leonard’s hotel…
5 October 1829, Sussex Advertiser:
HASTINGS… St Leonards Hotel, at the New Town, a grand and magnificent building, which for its architectural design, does much credit to Mr Burton, was likewise opened during the day, for the inspection of the public.[The “likewise” refers to a detailed description of the horse races at Hastings]
19 October 1829, Sussex Advertiser:
HASTINGS, Oct. 12. – Several families of consequence have arrived here within the last week, with the intention of sojourning for the winter season.
This highly favoured fashionable town, has, like most other watering places, felt the ill effects of the unsettled state of the weather, and the summer has not produced the usual number of visitors to the hills and glens, for which its romantic vicinity is so justly celebrated. The heavy gales and almost incessant rains, have not, however, retarded the exertions of Mr Burton, the spirited proprietor of Saint Leonard’s, a new Town, about a mile distant, which was commenced only about eighteen months ago. The truly magnificent and spacious hotel is already completed; and the public rooms, baths, villas, and residences of every description, are likewise in a state nearly fit for occupation. The hotel is furnished and taken by Mr Hodgson, late the respected proprietor of the Piazza Coffee-house, Covent Garden, who has announced his opening dinner for the 28th inst. at which Frederick North, Esq. has kindly consented to preside upon the occasion, and who will be supported by Edward Millward, Esq. and Joseph Planta, Esq. M.P. The gentry and respectable residents of Hastings, will likewise partake in the hilarity that cannot fail to ensue, in celebrating the commencement of business, in one of the first hotels, at the best arranged watering places in the kingdom.
The Ladies’ assembly at the above hotel is fixed to take place on the 29th, when it is confidently expected that it will be crowded with all the fashion, beauty, and elegance of the eastern part of the county.
22 October 1829, Brighton Gazette:
Hastings. The buildings of the adjoining new town, St Leonard’s, are now rapidly completing.
The Hotel, second to none in the kingdom, and fit for the temporary residence of Royalty, being more like a palace than any building we have before seen, is filling with company, and will be much frequented during the whole of the ensuing week. The spirited proprietor, Mr Hodgson, has issued cards for a dinner and ball, and has engaged the managers of Vauxhall fireworks to make an exhibition from the top of the new and extensive baths and reading rooms erected on the Parade, extending along the sea three quarters of a mile, which we doubt not will be a source of amusement to such visitors as may be able to attend. The assembly room, one hundred feet by forty feet, with an orchestra and ante-rooms, will be ready for the occasion. The exterior of this building is in the Doric style. Fish ponds are formed in the valley immediately contiguous to the hotel lodges and gardens; and Swiss cottages and castellated villas have already obtained inhabitants. Several terraces having a fine sea view are called the Marina. A street leading to the lesser houses is in progress, to be called the Parallel, and a street for business, which is denominated the Mercatoria, is in progress. There is some probability of the worthy projector of this unique and select watering place making a new road, which will bring the town within 22 miles of Tunbridge Wells. We hear that a party of gentlemen are about to start a steam coach to London, and that chain pier will soon be erected, and a steam packet ply once a week between us and London, once a week between us and France, and once a week between us and Brighton.
So satisfied are the public as to the ultimate success of the new town, that several gentlemen have made arrangements for investing capital in the purchase of houses. Two mansions are now sold on such terms as to secure the purchasers ten per cent interest.