From Historical Hastings

At one time, perhaps the best-known furniture retailer in the town, Dengates originated as a small firm of piano removals, with one horse and cart occupying premises in Middle Street during WW1. The firm at the time was owned by Mr. E. A. Dengate and Mr. Gutsell, the latter of whom retired from the business in 1919. By 1926, the business had expanded to include new and second-hand furnishing sales and storage, moving into premises at 31 Cornwallis Street, Mr. E. A. Dengate having retired in 1925 and the business continued by his sons; Leslie, Cecil and Stanley[1]. Around 1931, the business also operated as 'The Hastings Depository'[2].

The business was involved in the mystery surrounding the death of Albert Hoermann, who had disappeared over the Christmas period of that year, his body later being found on the cliffs at Fairlight; Mr. Hoermann having stored his furniture in their repository whilst he recuperated from an illness[3].

New Queen's Road Building and Fire

A new ​building​ at 203-204 Queen's Road was constructed in 1936. This ​building​ suffered a devastating fire which originated around lunchtime of the 30th of September in or around a staircase. Following the discovery of the fire by the sole staff member in the ​building​ - Mr. E. Bastion summoning the staff, who had been in a nearby restaurant, managed to salvage some of the stock and the company's books with their assistance before the fire grew too great. As the inferno grew, so did the crowd and the volunteer Fire Brigade were hard-pressed to contain it; all sections of the fire-brigade being called to the conflagration. Due to the ferocity of the fire, ​building​s on the opposite side of Queen's Road suffered burning to their frontage and broken windows and the trolley-bus service was suspended. A cine-film of the fire was made by a Mr. B. V. Wallis, but it is not known whether this survives to the current day[4]. The damage caused by the fire was estimated as £11,000[5].

The premises were rebuilt to a design by the St. Leonards architects Oxley and Burleigh[6], and Dengates re-opened on the 8th of July 1939, this being the third time they had occupied this address, them having originally opened there in December of 1934[1]. The new premises featured oak panelling prominently by the entrance and were described as being 'open and airy' by comparison to other stores[6]. By 1939, they also offered their services as a funeral director in addition to the pre-existing business[7]

In 1960, the Queen's Road premises at numbers 203-204 were taken over by Co-Operative to become a housewares and clothing retailer[8].


References & Notes