Queens Arcade in Hastings sells at online auction

Hastings’ Queens Arcade – the birthplace of television – has sold in an online auction.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 1:15 pm
Queens Arcade/Queens Avenue Shopping Arcade in Hastings. SUS-210318-120524001
Queens Arcade/Queens Avenue Shopping Arcade in Hastings. SUS-210318-120524001

The sale of the Victorian era building in Hastings town centre ended today (Wednesday, March 24). The guideline price was £325,000 to £350,000 plus fees, but the building eventually sold for £461,000. It received 51 bids.

The building, which was built in 1882, is owned by the Went Tree Trust, who have trustees from Heringtons Solicitors.

It was in 1924 in the Queens Arcade that Scottish engineer John Logie Baird gave his first public demonstration of television at the site. Many of those early experiments were carried out at his workshop above No 8 in the Arcade.

L-R: Paul Saxby (Arcade Fisheries), Pat Horwill (Gifts and Giggles) and Gary Fellows (Arcade Butchers) pictured at the York Gardens entrance to Queens Arcade, Hastings. SUS-210323-110610001

To this day, there is a plaque, unveiled in 1929, which marks that occasion.

According to the Went Tree Trust’s charity commission page, the Trust’s average income for each of the past five years has been about £63,000 while its average yearly costs over that time have been approximately £100,000.

In a statement issued last week, the current trustees said Queens Arcade was put up for sale by auction in order to ‘secure the charity’s financial future’. It said this was to support the charitable aims of the trust which are: provision of grants to those people of Hastings who wish to emigrate to Commonwealth countries (the Emigration Fund); and provision of grants for the purchase of artefacts for the Hastings Museum (the Museum Fund).

The trust has been unable to make any charitable payments since 2017 due to the day to day requirements of running the Arcade, the trustees said.

Owner of Arcade Fisheries Paul Saxby (left) with son Adam, Queens Arcade in Hastings. SUS-210323-110636001

The Queens Arcade is home to a number of family-run businesses, including some that have been in the town for decades.

Last week, the owners of Arcade Fisheries and Arcade Butchers said businesses within Queens Arcade were only given three weeks notice of the auction when they received a letter from the building’s trustees.

They said they are concerned new landlords would push up rents and drive the family-run businesses from the Arcade.

Hastings and Rye MP Sally-Ann Hart wrote to Heringtons after being copied into emails between a constituent and the trustees of the building and called for the trustees to ‘seriously consider withdrawing the property from auction’.

Pat Horwill owner of Gifts and Giggles in Queens Arcade, Hastings. SUS-210323-110623001

However, the auction continued to its deadline, which was extended from 12.36pm to 1.14pm today (Wednesday, March 24) as bids received in the final five minutes reset the timer to five more minutes.