Hastings Old Town, George Street
Written by Anonymous Visitor and posted in East Sussex, South East, United Kingdom

With each new article in The Guardian, there’s more of them. Down-from-London (DFL) types or F.I.L.T.H (Failed in London Try Hastings), wandering around the Old Town at weekends, peering in John Bray & Son’s window after visiting the Jerwood Gallery. Their first visit to what they see as a quaint fishing village, with actual working class people that they just don’t see in their neighbourhood in Zone 1 or 2, puts the zap on their head. Sampling, rather than actually living the gritty reality of Hastings combined with the clean air and the rolling waves, makes them feel alive, the way endless weekends spent sipping Sancerre and Instagramming yet another plate of food from some pop-up hipster eatery in town or blogging about another tedious exhibition of medicore trustafarian artwork, just doesn’t.

After the third or fourth visit, thoughts turn to moving down here. They want The Crown in Crown Lane to be their local and eat at places Jay Rayner has reviewed. So what if bar snacks in these places cost the same as what the locals have to feed a family of four on per day. F**k ’em. The only trouble being there’s no new media industry or any jobs at all in Hastings where a degree from Goldsmith’s would be a distinct advantage or a CV that contains the word ‘curated’. If they sell up in the smoke, what would they do? There is an art scene, but there are no millionaire/billionaire patrons to keep them in Lemon Sole and Chablis, who’d buy their embarrassing daubs or things with sea shells and drift wood stuck to them. So they decide to do what they do best, use the money they made buying council houses in the pits of South London in the 80’s and now rent out or their trust fund, to do a little gentrification, i.e. working class community rape.

What that comes down to, is property ‘development’ for DFLs or providing goods and services for other DFLs, not the local community, they can f**k off to Bexhill for all they care. They would do this in Brighton, but have you seen the prices darling? Property development, i.e. poncing places up to sell to other DFLs is the easiest, most satisfying and profitable for them. With an almost endless supply of 80’s slum landlord hovels to buy up, the pickings are good. All they have to do is spend a few grand on repairs (that the slumlord would not do for 30 years), strip the floors and expose any brickwork and the job is half done. Then comes their favourite bit, the pleasure of spending endless hours perusing high-end kitchen and bathroom fittings brochures and picking that right hue of battleship grey to paint the interior. Another one for local estate agents to market to the greener DFLs.

Marine Court, St Leonards, home to lovely little restaurants darling!The more ambitious (or sufficiently loaded to know a failed business would far from bankrupt them), open up restaurants that only other DFLs can afford to eat in. Where the old town is more than catered for, they usually go for that ‘up and coming’ area of central St Leonards… Pieces of slate instead of plates, brioche buns, chips in mugs, you get the picture, all at menu prices the local can only stare at in disbelief and then laugh at. However, their consciences are clear, because they hire 2 locals on zero hour contracts on the minimum wage to clean and wash up. They are the wealth (for themselves) and job creators!

So the proceess has begun. In 20 years time, Hastings will become the bourgeois, bland, soulless, working-class-cleansed location they initially wanted to escape from… but with lovely sea views.

Written by @colinsellens

Top 10 worst places to live in England 2018
  • Colin

    “All I can say is s**t changes, and that’s life.” At last, after the renovation porn your true feelings. Don’t worry old bean, my pitchfork is sharpened not only for the international investment class but their petit bourgeois wannabes, whose concern for those who get displaced, those he see family members forced to move to other towns is, “ahh f*ck ’em, I got mine”.

  • Anton Hack

    Well said Rafaista, I enjoyed your comment and appreciated it’s accuracy more than the article.

  • Johnnymcevoy

    Battleship grey?
    You surely mean ‘Elephants Breath’ from Farrow & Ball.
    And if you think Hastings will ever recover, please visit Weston super Mare now in its 80th year of decline. It will never happen.

  • Rafaista

    How sad and desperately bitter this post is. Wealth really does create envy. As the owner of the house that was picked as the most overpriced yet in the old town, I can’t stop laughing. I live in london. I bought a s**t hole in Old Town and spent a small fortune restoring it. We put in reclaimed parquet floor, antique fireplaces (marble and cast iron), rebulit two chimney breasts, carried 9 cast iron radiators up an unforgiving hill,( house had no gas central heating) tanked areas of damp, ( previous owner put a drain inside the house) laid original Victorian encaustic tiles (not repro), re-rendered large parts of exterior, created new spaces, and fitted 7 new sash windows, replaced rotten floor joists, rebuilt shot supporting brick walls ( bathroom wall 4 layers of tiles on top of it) ‘de artexed 2 floors of ceilings- I could go on. We had a great time doing it. We spunked money into the local economy. We encountered many moron builders unique to Hastings. Most of them are ex south Londoners, who came down here as adults or kids. We also made friendships with a lot of them- even if they were bad at their work. Hastings has not always been down at heel, raffish, chavish, and boho. This is the latter 20th century incarnation. Some want it keep that way. All I can say is s**t changes, and that’s life. You want to blame foreign buyers from oil, gas, minerals, and BRIC countries that bought up London in cash, and the new boom since 2008 has been fuelled by them. They made londoner’s asset rich. Invade London with your pitchfork, old bean!

  • Jonny

    Too true. That bit about it being bland in 20 years?! It’s already happened. Oh how us pre-DFLers miss our good old sawdust on the floor Old Town. Everybody is too nice! It’s tedious.

  • David Risley

    Well that’s a fun read, but as for the starting of the 20 year process? No it ain’t gonna happen. I have been loving Hastings and Peckham for the last 25 years and i hear constant peons on gentrification in both areas but NO. House prices go up certainly but that does not mean the area improves very much. Hastings and Peckham carry on the usual lovely way bumming along at the bottom with not a care of the witless tits that think money is the be all and end all of happiness. Not the case, Hastings has some great goings on and nearly all generated by the community that live there as for Peckham well some smart arsed wits have been making art in a car park and drinking beer on the roof Yayyyy! but that’s it the wig shops and chicken shacks still proliferate. But i still love em because i am one of those lower investment class types that find the ambience suits them.