www.hastingsonlinetimes.co.uk     Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
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Summer Music Season at the Electric Palace

Electric Palace cinema is once again bringing the sights and sounds of the Summer music festivals to your doorstep, with its annual Summer Music Season.


barclays demo main

Activists target Bexhill’s coal-financing banks

Campaigners from the Bexhill and Hastings World Development Movement (WDM) group held a Stop Bankrolling Coal walking tour of Bexhill on Saturday 19 July, to highlight the role of UK high street banks in financing the destructive coal industry worldwide.


Combe Valley

Combe Valley latest – still there!

Recently, Hastings Battleaxe, aka Stephanie Gaunt, went for for an interesting walk round Combe Valley Countryside Park with the WI walking group.


Swallows and Amazons

Hastings Pirate Day: Swallows and Amazons

Kids will be thrilled and parents will enjoy this nostalgic voyage down memory lane – Swallows and Amazons at the Electric Palace cinema with original cast member, Sophie Neville (Titty Walker) on Sunday 20 July – 4pm, writes Annie Waite

Swallows and Amazons, the classic British film, will be introduced by original cast member Sophie Neville (Titty Walker, pictured, left).


Pegging his way convincingly down George Street


Dressing-up has never really done it for me.  I usually think of it as the last refuge of the bored, like Marie-Antoinette dressing up as a shepherdess at Versailles.


Gaza leaflet photo

HPSC to hold art sale for Gaza

Hastings Palestine Solidarity Campaign (HPSC) is to hold an art sale on 3 August to raise funds to support the work of the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians with inhabitants of Gaza who are suffering from military action by Israeli forces, Rachel Lever tells HOT.


Local WDM campaigners urge: “Help us stop big corporations slicing up Africa.”

Local call to oppose new colonialisation of Africa

On Sunday 3 August campaigners from the Bexhill and Hastings World Development Movement (WDM) group will once again be active participants in St Leonards Gardens Festival, this time highlighting the government’s support for what they see as a new colonialisation of Africa.


Paul Carrying Robin Huss Accompanied by His Dog Saxon 1979/80 in the Towner collection © Laetitia Yhap

A fishy tale

Laetitia Yhap is very well known among Hastings townsfolk as a chronicler in pictures of Hastings fisherfolk, but anyone who has ever sung in a choir here is likely to know her for her predilection to sing.




Sean O’ Shea talks with Sian Hayward of Rattlebag, a popular all-female harmony group from Hastings who have been performing a mixture of traditional and contemporary music around the Sussex folk scene since 2005.


The Pocket Park, Hughenden Road Hastings

Party in the Pocket Park

This Sunday, you are invited to attend The Party in the Pocket Park on Hughenden Road in Hastings to celebrate its recent transformation from grotty uncared for area to a beautiful park, writes HOT’s Zelly Restorick.



The herring girls came to town, progressing down the east coast

The girls are back in town

How would they look?  Single girls in their dozens arriving at the station with gutting knives hanging from their belts and smelling slightly of fish? Back in 1881, when our drama is set, they are a future anachronism – sassy women of independent means and with, yes, plenty of guts! HOT’s Chris Cormack writes about a musical drama hitting our shores at the Stade next Thursday and Friday.

Spring is tipping over into summer and the herring should be here. In the 1800s, the fishing fleets would follow the abundant herring shoals from Scotland down the east coast to land their catches at the nearest ports. Hastings boats would have been among them at the southern end. The herring lassies in teams of three, two to gut and one to pack, followed on to process the ‘silver darlings’ in their thousands at the quayside, whence the fish were exported far and wide.

This year the story of these women migrates down the coast from ports in Scotland – a play has toured 12 venues – each with their own local choir – starting from Musselburgh in May, down through Berwick, Hartlepool, Hull, Great Yarmouth, Margate and Folkestone, and reaches Hastings on 31 July and 1 August. The Hastings choir set up specially is called the Herring Girls and is led by Carol Prior, who is well-known in Hastings for her excellent work with local community choirs.

Tying fingers ready for work.

Get Up And Tie Your Fingers, the title of the drama, is the call to work – knives at the ready and strips of cloths to be tied around thumbs and forefingers to protect from the blades and the salt in the curing and barrelling. It gives a dramatic account of  one herring team, Jean, Janet and young Molly, as they go about their daily lives, telling us of their hopes and dreams and dealing with their devastating losses. Beyond the grim toll of the sea, there lies a remarkable tale of endurance, survival and courage of the east coast herring fishing communities.

It is a family drama set around the worst fishing disaster Britain has ever known. On 14 October 1881, 45 six-man fishing boats left Eyemouth and sailed into a freak storm that took the lives of 129 men and boys all from the one small community.

Hastings' Herring Girls led by Carol Prior (centre in orange top).

Just as the fishermen had their work-songs, so the repetitive nature of fish-gutting lends itself to brisk tempo songs to maintain the workflow and make the time pass quickly – there is a wealth of songs that accompanied the herring lassies in the archive.

Another scene from the play.

Over 400 people have learnt to sing the specially commissioned score by Karen Wimhurst which clearly draws on this folk tradition of work-songs, but includes some haunting modern a cappella musical effects which resonate with wind, sea and sea birds. The Hastings performance at the Stade is the only one in the open air with natural wind and sea birds for extra sound effects.  Adding even more to the realism, it could be taking place within yards of where actual fishwives gutted fish in the open air back in the 1880s!

The play is written by Ann Coburn, lead produced by the Customs House, South Shields, and the Guild of Lillians and supported by the Arts Council, among others. In Hastings, the project has the support of Hastings Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG), and it is hoped that the Herring Girls will continue to take part in cultural events relating to Hastings fisheries with FLAG support, for example the Herring Festival in autumn.

Get Up and Tie Your Fingers (aka Follow the Herring) - Two FREE performances on the Stade Open Space, Rock-a-Nore Road, Hastings TN34 3FJ  at 7.30pm, Thursday 31 July and Friday 1 August. This is a two-hour performance so you may need chairs, blankets and something in a flask!

Posted 20:00 Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 In: Performance

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