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A Goldmine For Hastings?

Music Heritage in Hastings

Written By James Ketchell

Hastings could be sitting on a music heritage tourism goldmine, according to Music Heritage UK.

Music Heritage UK is a charity which exists to “promote, protect and preserve our popular music heritage”. They contacted The Stinger recently after reading some of our articles online, especially those concerning classic gigs on Hastings Pier by such bands as Sex Pistols and The Who. 

 One of the aims of The Stinger has always been to celebrate and educate others about the amaz-ing musical history of the town, so we naturally agreed that Music Heritage UK could use our arti-cles on their website to help with their own work.  

 During our discussions we quickly realised that we had a common interest, so we invited the Founder and Chief Executive of Music Heritage UK, James Ketchell, to write about the charities work and how it may be able to help Hastings publicise and share our own rich musical history in the future.

 This is what James had to say:


“Earlier in 2014 music industry stakeholder group, UK Music (, published a report on the potential for music heritage tourism, which showed that the country as a whole was missing out on a possible £4 billion in additional tourist income. 

 Music Heritage UK worked closely with UK Music on the report, which looked at a variety of cities across the country. The idea was to inspire other local authorities to do more to celebrate their own popular music heritage.

 As regular readers of The Stinger will know, Hastings is rich in music history. There were historic gigs a plenty on the pier from a who's who of popular music in the 1960s and 70s (The Who, Pink Floyd, Sex Pistols, Jimi Hendrix, Tom Jones, Genesis and Rolling Stones) and the area was the location for music videos by David Bowie, Squeeze, The Seahorses, Ash and Kaiser Chiefs.  

 Readers might also know that Hastings was the birthplace of Simon Fuller (pop music manager and impresario), Steve Kinch (bass player with Manfred Mann), and Suggs (singer in Madness). 

 Hastings also has a growing role as a music destination thanks to the great up and coming and underground artists that The Stinger highlights every issue, and it is home to eclectic and electric festivals like Fat Tuesday.

 We’re not suggesting that Hastings could be turned into a Liverpool type destination over-night, with its numerous Beatles tours, permanent exhibitions and tribute acts playing iconic gig venues. But there is room for the town, with direction and help by the local authorities, to celebrate its role in popular music history.

 That music heritage tourism report highlighted the efforts of a single music fan in Coventry in cel-ebrating the birthplace of 2-Tone. Local journalist Pete Chambers, almost singlehandedly, wrote a guide to the city’s musical sights, which then morphed into a heritage trail with permanent plaques, before opening a temporary exhibition. These all helped to prove the appetite for a permanent exhibition and today Pete runs the Coventry Music Museum, which receives thousands of guests from around the world every year, who are interested in finding out more about Coventry’s musical past, present and future.

 The internet and mobile phone technology is also providing new opportunities. For example, in Sheffield the university worked in collaboration with an arts festival to develop an online map and phone app to celebrate the people and places which make up its own music heritage. This cost-effective project enabled music fans to discover the city’s music history and encouraged people to “get out there” and discover the city on foot.

 The upcoming reopening of Hastings Pier in 2015 seems an opportune moment for the town to start a conversation about how it can celebrate its place in music history. Tourists could be drawn into discovering the special role that Hasting Pier played in music culture at an exhibition. A music heritage trail could also be developed online, created in conjunction with music history experts and local media. By working with the town’s students and artists, and building on the enthusiasm of local music fans, this approach wouldn’t necessarily have to cost the earth either.

 There is no reason why Hastings could not do more to take a piece of that £4 billion tourist income pie and encourage tourists, from all around the world, to bask in the former music glory of the town’s music scene, while spending pounds, euros, yens and dollars with local businesses. 

 This would also provide the town with a great opportunity to further cement its growing new music credentials…. surely a “win-win” situation for all?”


 As you can imagine, what James has said above is music to our ears and we are already talking, both with Music Heritage UK and among ourselves, about how we may be able to take these ideas forward in some way. Something we fully intend to do if at all possible.

 Let’s not forget that the musical history of Hastings isn’t confined to ‘only’ Hastings Pier either. There are many venues and events worth celebrating and remembering that shouldn’t be over-looked. The Crypt and Witchdoctor are just two historic gig venues that come to mind, both of which played host to now legendary bands, but which are no longer open.

 But, what do you think? 

 Is this something you think we should be pursuing and would you be interested in getting involved yourself?

We want to hear what you have to say.  

Please contact us by email at:

See Music Heritage UK’s website for more information:

You can read the report into Music Heritage Tourism mentioned above, here:

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