From Historical Hastings
Mastins June 1931.png
General information
Address7-10 Breeds Place
Postal CodeTN34 3AA
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Mastin Bros (popularly known as 'Mastins') were a large department store located in Breeds Place that opened in 1872, becoming the leading family business in town until its closure in 1969. The premises then stood empty until being demolished in 1972, with an office block and ground floor shops subsequently being constructed.

Foundation of Store

Thomas Mastin and his brother John were members of a large Lincolnshire Family. The two brothers moved to Hastings, with Thomas being listed as a drapery apprentice in 1871 at William Bowerman's drapery store located at 14 Robertson Street. By the following year (1872) they had founded Mastin Brothers at 8 Breeds Place[1].

The first mention in the Hastings & St. Leonards Observer of the store relates to theft of a petticoat in May 1872 by a tramp - John Williams, who claimed he was drunk at the time and had no recollection of the incident. The first trial was unsuccessful due to the absence of Thomas Mastin, the prosecutor. At a subsequent trial Thomas was present and Williams was committed with two prior convictions at Bath and Portsmouth being cited[2].

A further early mention of the store in newspaper columns during October 1872 relates to the theft of a cheque by a domestic - Isabella Cousins. She stole a cheque made out to a Mrs. Russell which the postman had entrusted to her to give to Mrs. Russell. Isabella subsequently visited the store and looked at some black silk dresses, producing the cheque for £10 for Thomas to cash. Thomas would not cash the cheque immediately, offering to accept it in the morning once the bank had opened, and then send the dresses and change to Miss Cousins. Isabella then requested the cheque back, but Thomas had grown wary of the transaction and took the cheque to a neighbouring store for their opinion. When he returned, Miss Cousins had left, and, due to his suspicions, Thomas presented the cheque to the police resulting in Miss Cousins subsequently being arrested for theft[3].

The first of what would be almost continuous weekly advertising in the local paper appeared in the 15th March 1873 edition, with the brothers announcing that they had completed the purchase and conversion of the next-door premises at number 9 Breeds Place (formerly the premises of the Misses Linley, Stationers) and offered a wide range of useful calicos among other clothing items[4].

1904 Fire

On the 9th of December 1904, Mastins suffered a disastrous fire, with nearly £12,000 of damages caused. The blaze reportedly partially ruined the store, with a narrow escape for girls employed in the store and two firemen. This was the first time in the history of the Hastings fire brigade that all the men were called out, and may have been the biggest fire ever faced by the volunteer brigade. The scene was captured by Judges on their postcards. Business was at a standstill for some time afterwards.[5]

1931 - New Display Windows

In June of 1931, Mastins took out an front-page advertising feature in the Hastings & St. Leonards Observer highlighting their newly-installed display windows complete with electric lighting for the convenience of their customers; the title being "Mastins Assumes a New Importance". The feature went on to state that there were "16 entirely new windows, splendidly lighted, giving 3-fold space for displaying goods from 16 Depts.". At this point in time, Mastins had been open for almost sixty years[6].


References & Notes