Showing posts from May, 2012

Hastings Battleaxe's Brummie heritage comes to Hastings

This device is a fly-press for punching and stamping metal, made in around 1910 by a company called Hazelwood and Dent in Branston Street, Birmingham.  It is standing outside Leigh Dyer's West Street Incurva studio, waiting to be winched up on the chain to the workshop, to start its new life.

     Hazelwood and Dent was my grandparents' family firm - my grandmother's maiden name was Florence Hazelwood.  My mother was always economical with the truth, and I didn't learn about our metal-bashing past until recently - she clearly thought metal-bashing not quite the thing.  (She always said she came from genteel Solihull, or 'Soleyhole dear', but in fact, she was born in far less salubrious Acocks Green).  However, Hazelwood and Dent made machine tools for the Brummagen jewellery and medal-making industry, and the fly-press would have spent most of its working life in a little back street workshop in Hockley. As well as small things like this, the company made huge …

Secret Hastings - the Garlic wood

The first year we came to Hastings, the Philosopher and I stumbled on an amazing sight - the hidden wild garlic wood in Alexandra Park at the top of Shornden Reservoir. We have visited every year since.  If you go across the top of the park - what we call the 'Blow-Up Lawn' (because it reminds us of the park shown in Blow-Up (the 1960s classic film starring David Hemmings - the park where he sees the murder) - a secret path leads to the garlic.  This year it was not as good as before - the weather I guess, but it was still impressive, and the smell of wild garlic is overpowering.  However, others had been before us - it is discouraging that people drop litter in bits of the park they think are unfrequented...  Anyway, at least all that garlic should keep the vampires away.

Talking of spooky things, I also like the huge old tree you pass on the way to the garlic.  It is like one of those scary trees that comes to life in a fairy story.  Here is the garlic and the tree.

Jack in the Green - Battleaxe's shame....

No, I'm not ashamed to admit it - here I am, a Hastings resident, and I didn't go to the Jack in the Green festival.
     Don't get me wrong, if required I can haul myself into a corset and wench about with the best of them - I have a drawer full of the things. But it is no use, Morris dancing and all that goes with it is just not for me.  All those beards and beer bellies... no, no, noo.  Yes, I know they have women's troupes, or 'sides' as we are supposed to call them, but women seem to be a bit of a late add-on.  I once worked with a woman whose husband was a leading light in the Morris movement, and as a woman, she wasn't even allowed to dance, or belong to his gang.

     I am prepared to acknowledge that Jack in the Green is a revival of an authentic ancient pagan ritual, but it has all the feel of Victorian recreated  'Merrie England' for me. 

     Anyway, I musn't be churlish, because I know it is a huge thing for Hastings,  draws lots o…

Battleaxe in Hastings Tip shock.....

Just took a load of garden rubbish to the Pebsham tip.  To my disappointment and astonishment, the metal container where the tip geezers used to pile things that had some value, and then sell the stuff for a pittance, has gone.

Since I have been in Hastings I have had several old chimney pots for planters, umpteen other planters and terracotta pots, a set of shelving, a filing cabinet, a Victorian wooden plant stand and various garden tools - all from the tip.  Visiting the little hoard made tip visits worthwhile, and most important of all, stuff that could be reused was salvaged.  We really liked it after the big city Birmingham tip we used to visit, where you had to drop stuff down off a walkway into huge skips where it was way beyond reach.  Sure, I expect the blokes in Hastings made an illicit few bob out of their trade, but so what?

Now, you are not even able to save stuff from the heaps once it has been dumped - what a waste.

I spoke to the blokes and they wouldn't say much …

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