East Well

From Historical Hastings

Originally a spring[1], The East Hill Well, whose water can be sampled by a tap which produces its waters readily below a sign which reads ‘waste not want not!’ The water is enclosed in a large conical conduit house sitting at the base of the East Hill Railway at Rock-a-Nore Road. In 1768 Tamarisk Trees were recorded as growing on the cliffs adjacent to the spring's source.[2]


The well was constructed circa 1848/9 with part of the money raised from a local fundraising campaign by Dr McCabe[3] to a design by Alderman Maw[4], together with the surplus of moneys raised after a disastrous fire had ravaged twenty Net Huts in 1846[5]. An ornamental reservoir capable of holding 1500 gallons of water was constructed, with the water being available for both fishermen and members of the public[6]

Use as address

From a lease held at The Keep, Lewes, it would appear that at least one fisherman utilised the well as a 'legal' address when signing official documents,[7] although there are records of 'East Well Cottages', presumably in this general area but no longer existing.

Drainage Works

There was a drainage works located near the East Well, which was the location of an unfortunate accident on the 6th of August 1870. At about 9:50pm, shouts for help were heard coming from the storage tank. Two men rushed to help - Mr. Porter, the works chemist and Mr. Harris. Upon entering the tank, they saw two men - Nash and Fry in difficulty. Climbing into the tank, Mr. Porter fell backwards and Harris ascended to safety. By this time, a small crowd had gathered and the site manager, Mr. Wigner, Harris and a fisherman made two descents, but were forced back on each occasion due to the foul air in the tank. Several other searches then took place and, with difficulty, the bodies of Fry and Nash were brought up. As to Mr. Porter, no trace could be found of his body, and it was presumed that he had been swept out to sea. Fry and Nash had been told not to enter the tank due to the risk of foul air - the tank having been drained the day before[8].

Grade II Listed (Historic England listing 1286777)


References & Notes

  1. The History and Antiquities of the Town and Port of Hastings: Illustrated by a Series of Engravings (Moss 1824) pg.170 Google Books ESCC Library Order via Amazon
  2. Hastings Chronicle 1768
  3. https://insearchofholywellsandhealingsprings.com/2012/05/21/ancient-wells-and-springs-of-hastings/
  4. Parson's Illustrated Guide to Hastings & St. Leonards (1881) pp26
  5. Brett Manuscript Histories Vol. 3 Chap. 36
  6. Brett Manuscript Histories Vol. 3 Chap. 40
  7. East Sussex County Council Archive The Keep DH/B/146/3/68 Agreement to lease by William White of East Well, Hastings, fisherman
  8. British Newspaper Archive The Sun (London) 8 August 1870 Pg. 0001