Supplied by Peter Ellingworth
Peter Ellingworth… a former finial from the old tramway/trolleybus and latterly lamp posts that were, until some years ago, a common sight around Hastings & Bexhill. I believe this particular one came from the start of Bohemia Rd (Silverhill end). There is still one remaining at the top end of the High St. and also a couple in Silverhill bus depot visible from the road. A bit heavy ( around 15-20 kg) for a paper weight ! I bought this off Hastings Corporation for the princely sum of £1 when they had a blitz on their removal, due to an EEC ruling that lamp posts and such had to be impact friendly, which the old standards, some of whom had old tram rail inserted and filled with concrete to strengthen them were most certainly not!
Nigel Kennard… Merv Kennard and I were reminiscing recently about a picture of the Hastings Tramway Company staff from around 1910. It showed all of the employees at the tramways works, including our very young looking Grandfather, Albert Eldridge.
Peter Ellingworth… Nigel, I think I’ve seen the photo, is it in the late, lamented and most respected local historian David Padgham’s book published in 2005 regarding the centenary of the Hastings Tramway system ? ( I will have look when I find my copy). I bought it as a present for my late Mother (nee Boniface), when she was in a nursing home and I think she was related to D P. I remember speaking to him on the ‘phone congratulating him on this book when it first came out, but sadly and most regretfully didn’t take up his offer of visiting him again on one of my Hastings visits before he passed on. When the trolleybuses finished in May-June 1959, I remember David telling me he rescued all the original Hastings Tramways records and documents literally minutes before they were going to be part of a bonfire after a clear out at the depot in Beaufort Road !( He worked for M&D). When he passed on I think they went to the Sussex Records Office in Lewes? , then latterly last I heard some of them at least to the custodians of Hastings Museum. Was your Grandfather also driver of the last trolleybus ceremonial farewell on Monday 1st June ’59? Again when time allows I’ll check as I’ve got the photo from The Observer somewhere. An excellent read including a lot about the Hastings Trams is included in Robert J. Harley’s book “Trams and Trolleybuses in Hastings, St. Leonards and Bexhill.” Another one for a pictorial history of the T-buses is “Hastings Trolleybuses” by Lyndon W Rowe ( Middleton Press). Lyndon was a Hastings man, although he lived away from the town for a lot of his life and worked for London Transport. I’ve often wondered how long the Hastings trolleybus system would have gone on for had M&D decided not to terminate it in 1959. Mid-sixties, maybe. Given that once London finished in 1962 ( the original intention was to keep the Hounslow, Isleworth, Dittons and Kingston routes going until the mid ’70’s as this would have seen the life out of the then newish t-buses) it was no longer viable for the likes of BICC to make components so the other systems remaining carried on until Bradford finished in 1972.
I’ve just found my copy of David Padgham’s excellent Hastings Tramways book, pages 40-47 entitled ‘Staff and Conditions” has some interesting staff photos so your Grandfather may well be among those. My own Grandfather who was a local postman, is on the group photo of them all on a tram after it was either en-route, or had just arrived, at the cemetery for the funeral of a colleague in 1906. All looking very stern in the Victorian way. You should be able to purchase a copy through the normal outlets, I will try to remember and bring mine along at the next coffee meet on 30th June.
Nigel Kennard… Peter thanks for that insight. I am unsure how long Grand dad Albert worked at the Tramway Company, but he had certainly left by 1914 as he went to war in the early months of World War One. After the war he went to work in St Albans for Marconi. So he didnt return to the Tramway Company.
Peter Ellingworth… Nigel, Continuing part two of a sort out earlier today, I came across another most interesting book -this one by ex-Hastings Grammar School pupil and local historian Cilff Mewett, entitled ” The Hastings Tramways Company 1899-1959, An Illustrated Social H⁸istory ” which also includes in considerable depth the legal and council shenanigans during both when trams were proposed for the town, and well during their operation followed latterly by the trolleybuses. Nigel/Merve- one snippet I read on page 72 which may interest you is, and I quote, from the book ” At 8.15pm on March 13th 1929, the last tram clanked its way from the Cemetery round the Ridge, over Harrow Bridge and down Sedlescombe Rd.9 North to the depot, crewed by Motorman Algy Byworth and Conductor Bill Eldridge ” ( Your Grandfather) !
Peter Ellingworth… Nigel, That’s interesting, living now next to St Albans, I well remember Marconi as a major employer of the locality. Quite a few St Albans people can trace their immediate roots back to Hastings, as many migrated there for work, and also some stayed on after WW2 as St. Albans was one of the main places of evacuation including schools from Hastings. According to Cliff Mewit’s book your Grandfather worked the last tram in March 1929, but you say he didn’t return to HTW employment after WW 1 demob, presumably around 1919?