Hastings has just celebrated Pirate's Day which inspired me to do a little reading into the history of pirates in the area. According to this account from a local resident, recorded in 1871 by local teacher John Banks,
'No business carried on in Hastings was more popular and extensive as that of smuggling. Defrauding the revenue, so far from being considered a crime, was looked upon as a laudable pursuit, and the most successful 'runners' were heroes. Nearly the whole of the inhabitants, old and young and of every station in life, were, to some extent, engaged in it.'
From his own experiences, John Banks paints a vivid picture of smuggling in an era when prevention was at its height, but he also reminisces about the earlier era when most of the smuggling activity at Hastings and St Leonards took place on the beach. In these colourful tales the smugglers rely for their safety and that of their cargoes on their traditional allies of darkness, brute force, and the incompetence or corruptibility of the revenue services. The custom-house officers could usually be expected to make themselves scarce at the prearranged time of landing, but things didn't always go according to the prearranged timetable. Banks describes one embarrassed encounter and the final resolution, with characteristic humour.
The boat landing the goods near the centre of St Leonards was owned by one Jemmy Roper, and he made the mistake of beaching the boat before his reception committee had arrived. Worse, a custom-house officer appeared. The two men exchanged curses, and the officer told Jemmy he was a fool for arriving early, and that he would now be obliged to seize the cargo. Jemmy replied 'If you be a man, act like one'. In the meantime, the owner of the cargo had arrived, and negotiations began. The customhouse officer agreed that in exchange for seizing ten tubs of spirits, he would allow the crew to ship the rest inland. The boat was quickly unloaded, and when the 'gentlemen' had melted away into the darkness, the officer fired his pistol into the air to summon help in carrying the seized goods back to the custom house.
Wrong-doing and corruption all round!
Well it wasn't Margo!! She just cooked up this beauty, and more besides, for us all last week. A triumph!
What would we do without Margo and Mandy (sounds like a film title!) our wonderful kitchen duo?!
Turn over and you will find another month of yummy menus!
You will also see a cracking line-up of entertainment with an emphasis on music this month, in a wide variety of forms.
Coming up: Fairfest on 29 July and Hastings Old Town Carnival Week 28 July - 5 August.
As always, it's 07786 835181 if you need to contact me.
Meeting every Friday at Fairlight Village Hall, Broadway, Fairlight
between 10.00am and 2.30pm.
M.O.P.P. MARSHAM OLDER PEOPLES' PROJECT
Fairlight Village Hall,
01424 814 726
Only call between the hours of 9am and 2pm on fridays
You can also contact us, leave a message or make a comment by using our online
The Centre “which is a registered charity
Tel: 07905 981036