Priory Stream

From Historical Hastings

The Priory Stream has two main sources; one being the Old Roar Ghyll waterfalls, the other originating in Ore and snaking its way down the valley towards Beaconsfield Road and merging in Alexandra Park.

Prehistoric Times

It is claimed by Anthony Belt in his book "Hastings Survey of Times Past and Present" that during the times of prehistoric man, various duck were snared and grouse & black game could be hunted.[1]

Use of Stream

The route of the Priory Stream and tributaries around 1852. Culverting is in black (Source: L. Kennedy)

At one time, the stream powered a Watermill roughly located at the Queen's Road and Waterworks Road junction. Ross reported finding traces of an ironworking site[2] in the valley near Christ Church Blacklands and the name of 'Ponbay Bridge' may be the corruption of the term 'Pond Bay' - this being a typical feature of iron-workings.

Grose, when mapping Hastings Castle gave the width of the stream at the estuary as being 100 feet wide in 1763 (approx 33 metres). The results of this mapping are stored at The Keep[3].

A number of bridges crossed the stream; the lowest of which was situated almost under the site of the Albert Memorial and, although undoubtedly rebuilt a number of times was believed to date back to the time of the Augustinian Priory of the Holy Trinity.

Ransom and Ridley's Shipyard, located near to today's Pelham Place utilised the estuary of the stream as a convenient launching place for vessels constructed there.


Route of Culvert

The lower portion of the stream was culverted for the rest of its route roughly following the route of Queen's Road, appearing again at an iron pipe on the beach nearly opposite Harold Place in 1839[4] with Mr. Jonathan Reed being selected as the contractor for this work[5], with the remainder up towards Alexandra Park being culverted once the Railway Embankment was constructed around 1846[6]. There were a number of additional revisions to the culvert, leading to its current path up Castle Hill Passage and down via Wellington Square. A comprehensive history of the culverting can be found at Love Hastings.

This culverting has in recent times led to severe flooding of South Terrace whenever a high tide coincided with heavy rainfall; the outlet being blocked by shingle and the portion of the culvert beneath below South Terrace being just below the the road level.


References & Notes

  1. Hastings Survey of Times Past and Present (Anthony Belt F.L.S.) 1937 pg.31 ESCC Library
  2. The Antiquities of Hastings and the Battlefield (Thomas Cole 1864) Pg. 23 Google Books - 1864 ESCC Library. A later edition is also available: ESCC Library - 1884
  3. East Sussex County Council Archive The Keep FATMP006697
  4. Hastings of Bygone Days and the Present (Henry Cousins - 1911) pg.304 ISBN: 9789332862449 ESCC Library Google Books " Amazon
  5. Brett Manuscript Histories Vol. 2 Chap. 19
  6. Queen's Road