'The Victoria Hotel, And Dorman's Library, St Leonards', 1864.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A photograph of the seafront at St Leonards-on-Sea, taken in 1864 by Francis Frith (1822-1898). This is one of sixteen photographs of Hastings, St Leonards, Rye and Winchelsea taken by Francis Frith and published in 1864 in his book 'The Gossiping Photographer at Hastings'. A man dressed as a sailor stands in front of two bathing machines parked on the promenade. In the background is the then newly-built Royal Victoria Hotel. Hastings' popularity as a resort put increasing pressure on the cramped Old Town. Any expansion was hindered by the surrounding cliffs. Therefore, in 1828 the architect James Burton built a new town along the coast called St Leonards-on-Sea. Francis Frith was a pioneer of travel photography. He was also one of photography's greatest entrepreneurs, founding a company that was to become the largest publisher of photographs in the world. Frith saw himself as a romantic adventurer in the mould of Byron. Between 1856 and 1860 he travelled and photographed extensive