History of Hastings Police 1836-1967

Milo's Gas explosion in the early 1960's
Hastings & St Leonards in old pictures. - Richard Pollard
Mods on scooters drive two-by-two through Hastings, Sussex, Aug. 2, 1964, as teenagers converge on the resort in search of bank holiday entertainment. A squad of policemen were flown in from Middlesex after sporadic outbreaks of trouble between rival gangs.
AP Photo/Frank Leonard Tewkesbury
Extra police were required at Hastings, after outbreaks of trouble between Mods and Rockers, who descended on the Sussex resort.
Ref #: PA.1929853 Date: 02/08/1964

Research and drafting undertaken by Mr Charles banks, a former Inspector of the Force 1967

Major Crimes –

The 1963 Gas Explosion “Mods and Rockers”, 1964

There have been very few cases of homicide since the Borough Police Force was formed in 1836. In the official records are details of the following:

1849  A woman was charged with poisoning, sentenced to death at the Sussex Assizes, and was duly hanged.

1904  A woman was charged with murder but she was subsequently convicted of manslaughter.

1928  A man was charged with murdering his mother, was found guilty but insane.

1932  A man was charged with murdering his wife. but was acquitted, Shortly afterwards the man committed suicide on the railway line.

1943  A soldier raped and murdered a woman in the Air Raid Shelter at Carlisle Parade. He shot himself on learning that the Police were searching for him.

1946 A knackerman /dealer named John Whatman was shot dead. The motive was robbery. His murderer was arrested at Markyate, Hertfordshire, tried and executed.

1962  Two women were killed in their car as the result of another car in possession of two wanted men crashing into their vehicle. In the criminals’ car pistols were found. Both men were subsequently convicted of manslaughter, and each sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment.

The 1963 Gas Explosion

Marine Parade

A gas explosion in Marine Parade on 13 July 1963 destroyed houses to the left of the Royal Albion. Thirty people were injured but nobody was killed. The houses were never re-built.


The violent series of explosions along Sturdee Place and Marine Parade on 11th July. 1963, injured 30 persons (six seriously), damaged approximately 32 properties, and necessitated 16 persons being temporarily housed in a Civil Defence Rest Centre. This incident received a great deal of Press publicity, and the work of the Borough Police. Ambulance, Fire and Civil Defence services, and the Local Authority in dealing with this serious emergency received the highest praise from many quarters.

The “Mods and Rockers” Disturbances, August Bank Holiday, 1964

These events received world-wide publicity. Some 5,000 potential trouble-makers were subdued and routed by a force of Regular Police and Special Constables. From about noon on Saturday. 1st August, there was a steady influx into the Borough of “mods” and “rockers”, and bearing in mind that the effective strength of the Regular Force at that time was 133 and 67 Special Constables, and that the situation was deteriorating, Eastbourne Borough Police Force was requested to send ten men as reinforcements.

On Sunday, 2nd August, a total of 158 reinforcements were sent from Eastbourne, Brighton, Kent and East Sussex Constabulary, and the Metropolitan Police. On Monday, 3rd August, the number of Police reinforcements sent by the above-named Forces amounted to 205, and by the late evening of that day the crisis was over.

During this trying period 66 prisoners were charged with 79 offences. 11 of the 18 juveniles dealt with were sent to a Detention Centre, 2 to an Approved School, and 5 were fined. Of the adults, 6 were sent to prison, 25 to a Detention Cenre, 17 heavily fined, 2 were Conditionally Discharged, 2 were given an Absolute Discharge, and 1 was dismissed. 42 offenders were Bound Over in their own recognisances for two years in addition to other punishment. It is interesting to note that almost half of the offenders had previous convictions.

On 3rd August the body of a 15 year old youth was recovered from the sea, and it was later ascertained that he had died from the effect of an overdose of drugs. At the adjourned Inquest held on 25th August, 1964, a verdict of death by misadventure was recorded. During the disturbances three Constables of the Hastings Borough Police and three of the Metropolitan Police were injured. The strong force of Police brought to bear against the trouble-making element prevented large scale damage to property.

For the first time in the history of the British Police, reinforcements were flown in. The Metropolitan Police contingents travelled by air to Lydd Airport, and were transported to Hastings by public service vehicles.

The coolness and efficiency of the Regular and Special Constables who were employed, and the invaluable assistance rendered by the Chief Education Officer, members of the School Meals Service, the Civil Defence Services, and the Governor and Staff of H.M. Prison, Lewes, was beyond praise. The Magistrates, the Clerk to the Justices, and his staff also displayed a tremendous sense of duty in holding the many Emergency Courts that became necessary during the disturbances. Even wives of members of the Force gave voluntary help and one was conscious of the high morale and sense of duty which prevailed

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