SMART Coffee Meet 56 – We’re Back!

Very pleased to say We’re Back! Hope you are all doing OK and keeping well. Our last meeting was back in February 2020 and looking forward to catching up with old friends and new on Friday 3rd Sept at The White Rock Hotel. A big thank you to everyone for keeping the website and facebook page going during these difficult times. Best Regards  Alan

Keeping the memories alive…

Pete Houghton… Great to back

Andy Qunta… Excellent news!

Mick O’Dowd… It was the 3rd of September. A date i’ll always remember…….

Pete Prescott… Looking forward to it!

Wendy Weaver… At last. Normality

Colin Norton… I hope that you guys have a great time and I really wish that I could join you!

Andy Qunta… Colin, what you said! Me too!

Kev Towner… Can you do it on Zoom? LOL

Stephen Moran… Thanks Alan I look forward to seeing you this afternoon.


Record listening booths of the 50’s


Dave Trodd… Anyone remember record booths like this?

Alan Esdaile… The fun of the listening booths but not like the photo. This is what me and my mates did on a Saturday, going from record shop to record shop, until we got thrown out! Happy times.

Martin Stringer… Oh yes.

Will Cornell… Ours were enclosed, like a phone booth (box as you say). The stores that had them had a one way ticket to going out of the record business. Customers came in, opened an LP, listened, said they didn’t like it….then went down the street to the discount store and bought the same record for 50c to a buck less. Think of it as analog Napster.

Dave Nattress… Yes, something like in Boots, Bexhill, maybe Woolworths also and possibly some of the smaller independents, but it was so long ago. Definitely a Saturday morning outing, I remember the booths and headphones and the “peg-board” lining to the walls to improve acoustics. The Bexhill area had a surprising number of shops that sold new records in the 60’s, Beaneys, Jennery’s, Blackburns, Orchards, (I think), then Flyright later of course. Don’t recall any allowing you to listen to albums it was the top 20 singles etc. That’s little old Bexhill!!

Nick Bloomfield… The ones I remember were more like this…


Oh No My Beloved Debenhams – Tony May

photo: Tony May

Tony May… I’m planning a possible Debenhams article for ‘Hastings Town’ magazine as I ‘process’ my feelings re yesterdays awful news. In the meantime here is a blog containing (mostly) my happy memories associated with Debenhams Hastings store…

Jeremy Peter Harrison… My best memory was back in the 1980s. I was shopping in the men’s department which at that time was at the back (seafront side). I was amazed to see two Lads pick up a complete rail of suits and run straight for the door. They hadn’t done their homework- it was a revolving door and they got jammed solid……!

Brigitte Lee… I worked on Santa’s Grotto, probably around 1980. Gordon worked in the lift that Christmas. I had started there as a Saturday girl, probably mid 70s. My Mum Trixie worked there and years later my daughter was a Saturday girl in another branch. Debenhams will leave a terrible hole in many town centres.

Judy Atkinson… I always remember that your mum was Miss Debenhams & still held the title as they never held the contest again

Janine Hemsley… I was singing on the gig that night at the Falaise Hall. 😂. We were so proud x My beautiful Mum Trixie was crowned Miss Debenhams in 1975. Those were the days when there were fashion shows during the day on the shop floor. Mum worked there for quite a few years.

Patricia Wapshott… Janine, I remember your beautiful Mum working on the make up counter, she was so glamorous and so lovely to talk to, her and my Mum who loved and was always buying makeup from her always got on so well xx

Janine Hemsley… I worked there briefly for Estée Lauder. I trod on a cable and put the whole of the first floor out. It was a Christmas promotion when Youth Dew first came out

Lucy Pappas… Tony, love your blog post x My oldest sister worked in the cafe more than 50 years ago. It seemed the height of sophistication to go for a milk shake and a bun when she was there. I still like the cafe even though it appears to be from another era. I’ll miss Debenhams, one of the few places I go to for pretty underwear and the occasional frock. Over the years, I’ve also bought luggage, bed linen, Christmas presents, new baby presents, make up, jewellery, the list could go on. What a loss to Hastings!

Judie Struys… Lucy, it wasn’t the biggest Debenhams but it was the heart of the town. I’ve been visiting it since I was 12. There used to be a special bit for teenagers in the 1970s, but I’ve forgotten what it was called. I used to buy so many of my clothes there when I was young. I’m so sad for the staff, some of whom have been there for decades.

Leigh Wieland-Boys… My first job on arriving in Hastings in 1971, it was Plummers then. So sad

Susan Butchers… We went there today no sale everything just as it’s always been

Fred Marsh… does any one remember my mum Doris Santer she worked at Plummers during the war and returned in the 60s up until her retirement, now she could tell many a tale about Debs.

Brigitte Lee… I remember Doris. I lovely cheerful lady. I have a feeling she worked in the jumper dept when I started as a Saturday girl.

Stephen Moran… A really sad day, my sister used to work in the office in Plummers during the seventies and I have such fond memories of taking my then two year old daughter to the cafe for coffee (me not her!) and cake most mornings.

Jane Dorsett… Really sad, I was a window dresser at Debenhams, worked with Gary Palmer, Teresa White, our boss was Paul Coombes, the windows always looked lovely and the Christmas grottos we use to do, very happy memories.

Alan Esdaile… Very sad news. What’s going to become of it now? May I suggest, it would be perfect for a theatre/venue with parking at the town centre car parks nearby and St Mary In The Castle would be perfect for the Bayeux Tapestry.

Jack Irving… Excellent idea

Tony May…Great to hear a lot of your reminisences about Hastings Debenhams! If any of you have any old photographs of Debenhams/Plumber Roddis/ of well-known/loved members of staff or of anything to do with Debenhams please send them to me privately by e mailing I have written a personal tribute to the store and am looking for some photos to go with the piece. The photos need to be yours though and not copyrighted otherwise I will not be able to publish them in ‘Hastings Town’ magazine. If I get more than I need I may well decide to write a ‘follow up’ story. Debenhams will be such a HUGE loss not just to our High Street but to our social history as well and I want to make sure that, if nothing else, the national archives won’t forget that…

Judie Struys… I remember that lady in Debenhams. So glamorous!

Jane Dorsett… I worked as a window dresser in Debenhams in the early 1980s, I worked with a friend called Teresa White, would love to get in contact with her, if she still lives in Hastings.


I remember Wards looking like this and mens holiday wear

photo source: unknown

Advert 1968

opening advert 14th July 1951 supplied by Leigh Kennedy

Fiona Evans… So do I !

Arthur Sutherland… Love the headless sales assistant.

Pete Fisher… was dragged there to be fitted out with school uniform…

Alan Esdaile… so was I Pete, I was like Kevin the teenager from Harry Enfield!

Tony May… This looks to me like the interior of Apps at Silverhill.

Sue Bennett… When l was small l remember the lovely little drawers with delicate buttons & threads in them.I collected buttons & beads, etc too after that.

Julie Findlay-jones… Wish shops looked more like this now, very nostalgic.

Janine Anne Scott… Do you remember the distinct smell?

Jules Stretton… Me too

Carol Paffett… And Mastins

Pete Brazier… A bit like Grace Brothers Isn’t it

Tony Ham… You beat me to it, are you free My Humphreys? I’m free!

Jon McCallion….  I remember this too. Shame we can’t go back to it, it would be so much better.

Jacquie Hinves… That was downstairs in the Queens Road shop. Upstairs was the Children’s outfitters. I got my first uniform for Our Lady’s Convent in Filsham Road from there!

Judy Atkinson… And my dad’s shop had cabinets like this

Despo Hawkins… Me too

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Who ate jelly cubes straight from the pack?

shared from Sheila Goss

Alan Esdaile… Yes guilty!! I would always offer to help mum if she was making a jelly but wasn’t a good idea to give me the job of splitting the cubes. One would always disappear!

Merv Kennard… Wasn’t it the law that you ate at least one cube.

Colin Bell… Guilty as charged!…sorry, again….mum!

Ann Hogg… Oh yes!

Shaun Cramp… Yep

Kate Recknell-Page… Yep done that on a few occasions!!

Wendy Weaver… I still nick some now

Pete Prescott… Yep!

Antonia Jacobs… Before I found out what it was made from

Robert Fisher… Yes

Edward Adams… i did

Stuart Moir… When my mum had no money for sweet treats, kids today don’t know how our parents struggled to make ends meet after the war, it was a bloody sight worse than todays families on benefits I can tell you, and don’t think this is bullshit .

Dave Nattress… Now you mention it – Yes!

SindySnap… Good for your nails and hair

Tracy Birrell… I used to buy it with my pocket money instead of sweets sometimes… I know what it’s made from.

Pete Brazier… Oops! Me (when I could get away with it lol

Martin Richter… i loved this and even in my 20’s still had tea with my nan every friday. she’d always give me some goodies to take home – including jelly (every week!) i didn’t want to upset her so took in good faith – but i had a cupboard full! anyway, returning from the pub with my best mate he decided to open some jelly, tear off a square and proceeded to thumb-toss them onto the ceiling – where they stuck! this was hilarious until at about 3am when they started dropping to the floor with a *thud* every 5 mins!

Reminds me of my grandparents…

shared from Michelle Nixon

Michelle Nixon… Reminds me of my grandparents, I can hear the clock ticking, the knitting needles, turning of the paper and I bet that was just his favourite chair

Roger Simmonds… Reminds me of mum and dads front room!

Stuart Moir… Mine as well as a kid

Nicola Dobson… Reminds me of my grandfathers house (dads dad)..he had chiming clocks in every room and hall

Pete Houghton… Those were the days

Andre Martin… Look at that old radio behind “Dad” you could travel the world by tuning into all sorts of stations, what a great way to learn your geography and what an adventure.

Jim Breeds… Andre, so much more travelling the world is possible today thanks to the infinite number of Internet radio stations available at the fingertip.

Richard J Porter… Like it was for me growing up.

Alan Esdaile… can remember the loud ticking clock.

Lyn Farkley Appleyard… Same here Alan… and my Grandma always kept one clock about 30 minutes fast so they wouldn’t be late! Late for what? Late for where? By then their routine was all centred around each other, their garden and daily routine. Love them still…miss them too!

Tracy Birrell… I grew up with my grandparents in a home like this. Wonderful times.

Kids playing in the mud back in the day.

source: Jim Tamburro. photographer: unknown

Marcus J Lamb-Bentley… Brilliant

Pete Prescott… Yep ! 1st war Trench systems at the bottom of the garden !

Dave Weeks… Pete, and an electric fence just to make it fun

Paul Cullen… Absofragginglutely

Gaynor Lewry… Yes my brother and I made mud pies dug big holes my mum would go out every night and fill them in for the next day !!!

Stuart Moir… Definitely and that’s why we can cope with all the bugs, good immune systems

Paul Huggett… Oh yeah, a Romney Marsh dirt track for numbered up toy cars given the stock car treatment

Joan Ann Cooper-fenner… Yep

Kate Recknell-Page… No we didn’t cos our back garden was used for growing all our fruit & veg but we did have a meadow outside our back gate so played there or Cranford park which was just across the road- such happy days xx

Rose Biela… Sister and I dug big hole in the garden looking for treasure. Realising we got carried away, started digging it in and couldn’t quite fill it in so put a small branch over it to hide it My mother was not impressed when her foot sunk in it

Eileen Meegan… Yes! I was usually climbing a tree 😆 defo ferrel.

Greg Musgrave… Out at dawn back at sunset and if wasnt in before the street lights switch on i would get a thick ear

Keith Flanigan… Yes, growing up in the 50s. Quite right Pete Prescott. My Father told me about trenches in our back garden, where we used to live in Eastbourne. More likely used for jumping into, when the Luftwaffe came across the English Channel to bomb the South of England during WW2

Rose Biela… Keith, we had an air raid shelter in London we used to play on it climbing over the top. We were not meant to go down it but sometimes sneaked down the ladder. My family had been in it most nights during the war and there was a bit of a tingle down the spine to think of that. By time we were kids Grandma used it to store veg pre fridge days

Edward Adams… yeah

Keith Flanigan… And being told if we did deep enough, we would reach Australia. Did we believe them? Maybe we did.

Robert Fisher… Good Days.

Julian Jules Carter… Oh yes!

Andy Qunta… Absolutely! Hour after hour, day after day!

Jim Peckham… Yep

Chris Wood… I’m bloody sure one of those little tykes is me.🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 The stories I could tell…the best one was when I tried to jump offer a trench being dig for a new sewer system and didn’t make it so fell into two foot of very muddy water, had to be rescued by my dad with a ladder, we lived on a small estate and all the neighbours joined my dad in his rescue. I emerged COMPLETELY covered in mud with about ten parents in hysterics at my plight….I ran away and hid behind a fence in my garden…. It took half an hour to find me and THREE baths to get me clean

John Ward… Noaaaw We didnt have as many toys as that , the odd defused hand grenade and a Mills bomb which my mum kept as an ornament on the mantel piece, and that was about it.

Keith Flanigan… Found four Live Lee Enfield .303 rifle bullets near the old army Firing range on the Crumbles Eastbourne. Took them home, ripped the tips off the casings using pliers and a hammer. Cordite in my Mother’s empty hinged, metal Dunhill cigarette boxes. Then set fire to them. Clouds of white smoke everywhere.

Rose Biela… Keith, yea war stuff was always turning up gas masks and other army stuff things made out of old bullets My dad still wore an army jerkin and beret for most of the sixties

Elsie Wilcox… Yes, we used to watch one of our neighbours kids eat worms. Lol

Ian Johnson… Yep

Willie Wicking… Defo

Brian Hepburn… Yes

Martin Curcher… The kid on the right looks a little like me back then

Mick O’Dowd… You had to make your own entertainment back then. The weather always seemed to be fine and you spent your day outdoors doing proper kids things. I had my Dinky/Corgi toys excavating and dumping on my pretend building site. Oh heaven!

John Warner… 100%

Tracy Birrell… Yes definitely. Still a wildling…

Beki Milton… Yep xx

Mick Burt… Oh yes !!

Stephen Glayzer… Absolutely

Jane Hartley… Yes

Who remembers car indicators/ trafficator’s?

Tim Barton… there’s one or two still around  [my grandad had a morris with these until the end of the 80s]

Dave Lelliott… My Grandads Austin England.

Edward Adams… yes sometimes would not go down when the wind was blowing

Ralph Town… Had them on my 1958 VW Beetle LRC 518…where are you now?

Wendy Weaver… Had them on my Austin A30 in 1969

Leigh Wieland-Boys… Had those on my first car – Morris Minor (split screen)

Dave Edwards… Trafficators

Barry Upton… Saw one yesterday with her arm out the window as well to be sure

Lorraine Page… Yes

Pete Prescott… Remember them well.

Jeffrey Beadle… Trafficators I think they called them.

Nuttall Summerfield… Jeffrey, semaphore

Glenn Piper.. Oh yes

Roger Simmonds… I had them on a 1936 Buick straight eight , wish I had it now !

Bookham Ally… Ford Popular and they used to stick in the ‘out’ position.

John Coleman… That’s when people used to indicate!

Jerry L Harmon… u got me curious gang. I have no clue what these are, help me out

Marcus J Lamb-Bentley… We had them on my dads Riley

Peter Bridger… Still have them on my Singer, though with flashing LED bulbs, and I use hand signals when possible as people still don’t see them!

Robert Fisher… Yes snapped a few off in my early driving days.

Roger Simmonds… Mine were clockwork I think went back in again after about 30 seconds !

Martin Richter… anyone remember *parking lights* ?

Edward Adams… Martin, yeah little red and white lenses you put on the drivers side of your car they are built in nowadays

Colin Anstee… My first car was an Austin A30 van, the right indicator used to stick, so lean back and give the unit a smack. Oh yes and it had a starting handle

Nigel Ford… Remember them on parents Morris Cowley SUL 515 in the early 60’s. We were later left a Wolseley 4/44 in 1970 that we got back on the road after having been laid up for many years that had them too, shiny leather seats that you slid around on pre seat belts of course. A circular twist knob in the middle of the steering wheel to activate the trafficators with an upward projection pointer.

Tracy Birrell… I remember them. We called them Blinkers.

Rose Biela… And who remembers cranking the car ?

Edward Adams… Rose, i do

Tim Moose Bruce… My favorite indicator system. It is also orange colour. Voice operated. Just say “Right turn Clyde “.

Did you used to have to ask to get down from the table?

Alan Esdaile… Always

John Gale… same here and God help me if I didn’t

Dawn Mann… Yes most definitely, and couldn’t get down without clearing the plate. Xx

Perri Ann Haste… As kids we were always in such a hurry to get down & Rush off to play we shortened it to ” Get down please! ”

Leigh Wieland-Boys… Always

Lloyd Johnson… yes! always…

Julie Findlay-jones… Yes and I’d be in trouble if I didn’t

Carole Prescott… Yes

Martin Stringer… Yes.

Rosmary Hughes… Yes and no elbows on table

Pete Prescott… Yes

Heather Sidery… Yes

Pauline Richards… Definitely!

Helena Kingshott… Definitely yes

Paul Cullen… Absolutely

Marcus J Lamb-Bentley… Yes. I still wait until everyone has finished. I don’t begin eating until the other person has started either……and I demand everyone has drinks and condiments before we start as people leaving table after irritates me unless it’s host who may be checking food (normally me)

Colin Bell… Absolutely.

Mick O’Dowd… Yep!

Ron Tennant… Yes!

Richard Downer… Every blinking time

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8 Track Tapes – more memories


source: Neil Vazquez

Samuel Freeman… Memories had a 8 track player on my disco deck was hard to get the tapes sometime but sounded great through speakers

Alan Esdaile… they were good for cars and vans.

Colin Norton… I  still have some and a player in my garage 🙂

Madeline Joyce Morton… I drove in to a brick wall, changing mine in the car lol

Roy Penfold… What about the healthy ‘clunk’ as you changed tracks?

Alan Pepper… Mate of mine had one I remember listening to the latest Elton John album on it Caribou ? I remember another guy I worked with had an actual record player inbuilt in his car in the early 60s !!

Tony Davis… I had one in my car and I remember that the Yes Album with Yours Is No Disgrace sounded fantastic. They seemed to be much better sound quality than cassettes.

Alan Esdaile… I can’t believe they sold any of these?

Will Cornell… Correction: 8Ts were, at best, second to LPs as far as sales volume at least here in the US where apparently they took hold more than in other markets. And Alas, the 8T Museum owned by Bucks Burnett here in Dallas, has closed it’s doors. Landlord had plans for the building and tenants had to vacate. It was fun while it lasted.

Keith Veness… Yes in my Ford Cortina 1600 GT

Josie Lawson… I used to have a machine that held those sort of tapes back in 70s…my cousin gave me it. I don’t have now…

Sandi Carlyon… I did. Had a Bread one.

Christina Prentice… Oh my god…haven’t used those since I worked in the Wimpy in Queens Road when I was at school!!!!!

Steve Fox… We just bought a player for our retro car! £15 well spent.

Nick Prince… I had an 8 track player in my first car….

Rob Grain… One player in my Mk3 Cortina 2 litre GXL ( Daytona Yellow with black vinyl of course) and one indoors in my stereo rack. Roxy Music “For Your Pleasure” used to change tracks halfway through The Bogus Man.