Local writer narrates new High Street Tale for Hastings in podcast celebrating historic high streets

  • Historic England’s High Street Tales – a new podcast series and e-book – features a new story from Hastings writer, Robin Pridy
  • Hastings podcast episode was released on Wednesday (March 10th)
  • In Borrowed Ground, writer Robin Pridy has combined Hastings’ familiar places with the stories and memories of local people, to turn the town’s Trinity Triangle into the backdrop for the life of her character, Jackie Brigham.
  • High Street Tales is the first project in Historic England’s national Cultural Programme, which forms part of the High Street Heritage Action Zones scheme
  • Listen to Borrowed Ground

A new short story, Borrowed Ground, by local writer Robin Pridy and set in Hastings, was released as a podcast this week – it is one of seven new works of fiction commissioned for Historic England’s High Street Tales, a new weekly podcast series and e-book inspired by local high streets. Robin was commissioned by writer development agency New Writing South.

Robin Pridy picture courtesy of Sally Griffin

Storytellers have captured the everyday magic of high streets, working with local people to record ‘local legends’ and create a set of short stories about today’s high street.

High Street Tales is the first project in a £7.4million Cultural Programme led by Historic England, in partnership with Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. This programme of cultural activities is part of the £95 million High Streets Heritage Action Zone scheme, which is currently working to breathe new life into 68 English high streets including Hastings, Ramsgate and Gosport.

The Cultural Programme features new digital and physical artworks inspired by our nation’s high streets. It aims to make our high streets more attractive and vibrant places for people to spend time, work and live.

Borrowed Ground

In her short story Borrowed Ground, writer Robin Pridy has combined Hastings’ familiar places, sounds and smells with the stories and memories of local people, to turn the town’s Trinity Triangle into the backdrop for the fascinating life of her character, Jackie Brigham. Robin wanted to explore how people were working and living around this part of Hastings, especially from the 1960s onwards. By speaking to people who had worked in the area or who had spent time there she began to build a picture of its colourful history – from memories about the décor of the Spiritualist Church to a very public breaking of waters in front of what is now Debenhams!

Claremont and Robertson Street, Triangle, part of Castle ward, Hastings.

Robin says: “The Trinity Triangle area has a rich history, and there is still so much to be explored. Keeping this place alive feels very important right now – it is not just somewhere to shop but is – and has always been – a place for people to grow up, to grow old, to learn and to work. It is a place of refuge, of joy, of political beliefs and hopes for the future. 

“I feel privileged to have heard so many heartfelt and original voices talking about their lives and memories in this place. I heard fantastic stories about life at the Hastings Observer, the greengrocers and the churches as well as several other shops that came and went. There were anecdotes about exotic fruit and barbers, small fires and games of whist, and I managed to learn a rude song to boot! I’ve written just one small story about this wonderful place, but there are many tales already told that are well worth finding. And I’m convinced there are so many more still to be written.

“I really do believe that the future of the high street is in combining all these things – church, community buildings, libraries, housing, eateries and shops – into a thriving neighbourhood for people to live in again, to be a place where people’s essential needs can be met, and where they can find almost all they could want to be happy in a place.”

‘The Alley’ between Claremont and the Observer Building.

Ellen Harrison, Head of Creative Programmes and Campaigns, Historic England, said: “Historic England is taking a unique approach in combining cultural programming, community engagement and physical regeneration to transform high streets across England. The Cultural Programme’s aim is for artists to work with local people to help them rediscover and express the pride they have in the places they’re from.”

James Leathers, Executive Director, Heart of Hastings CLT, said: “The High Street Tales project really captures the spirit of the Trinity Triangle. It’s not about heritage as something in the distant past, it is relevant and current for the community, here in this place now and shaping its neighbourhood for the future.

“Our cultural programme is off to a great start: Wondergolf celebrated local culture through crazy golf, local musicians are working with community groups to create original works and High Street Tales builds on local writing talent. We hope that everyone will find something that suits them and helps them connect with the neighbourhood in a new way.”

If you have a favourite memory of Hastings why not share it in the comment section below.

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