The Queens Hotel opened in 1862 (Parsons gives the opening year as 1863), having been constructed to a design by the architect Mr. Francis H. Fowler in an Italianate style and included 200 rooms, first and second class coffee rooms, saloons, suites for families, meeting rooms, billiards and smoking rooms and a library.
Formation of a company and issue of shares to raise capital for the building commenced in 1857, when a board of directors was assembled, consisting of eight directors - five from London and three from Hastings - these being; T. Agar, Esq., of Oakfield Lodge; E. Hayles, Esq. of Belmont; and Robert Hempsted, of 14 Grand parade. The ground was laid out on the site of the Shipwright's Arms on the 14th of May and construction of the cellars began two weeks later - John Howell being the contractor. Unfortunately it was some twelve months before sufficient capital had been raised to commence work on the above-ground portion of the building - construction of this commencing towards the end of 1858, with the firm of Holland and Hannen being the chosen contractors in spite of not being the cheapest tender. The seafront road originally ended in a cul-de-sac outside the hotel, through traffic having to go via Harold Place and Robertson Street.
Great Storm of 1987
During the great storm of 1987, the hotel suffered severe damage to one of its chimneys - the four ton chimney falling through four floors to the ground floor resulting in the death of a resident, 67 year old Ronald Davies of Warwickshire. A further two guests miraculously escaped from rooms 230 and 330. The hotel subsequently closed and remained empty for a number of years.
The 'JR' Years
By 1987, local publican Joe Riordan had moved his nightclub from his previous premises - the The Hermitage at Holmesdale Gardens into the basement; later expanding operations upstairs, taking over what had been the restaurant and sun-room, both premises becoming known as "JR's" by the mid-1990s. The upper floors, however remained derelict for a number of years but were converted into residential accommodation - the Queens Apartments around 2003.
What had been JR's bar and club have been utilised as a buffet style oriental restaurant since 2003 under a number of trading names.
References & Notes
- Hastings of Bygone days and the Present (Henry Cousins - 1911) pg.305 ISBN: 9789332862449 ESCC Library Google Books " Amazon
- Parsons' Illustrated Guide to Hastings & St Leonards
- Archive.org: The Builder: 1842
- Brett Manuscript Histories Vol. 6 Chap. 58 Pg. 229
- Brett Manuscript Histories Vol. 7 Chap. 60 Pg. 59
- East Sussex County Council Archive The Keep GB179_R_L_ACC12320_52_2_2
- Hastings Borough Council Planning application ref HS/FA/02/00456
- Hastings Borough Council Planning application ref HS/FA/03/00466