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Lost Hastings pubs: When a landlord was fined for selling inferior whisky

Local pub historian David Russell has shed fascinating light on the Bohemia area’s first pub.

The Wheatsheaf at the beginning of Bohemia Road, was built by John Jinks, a bricklayer who had previously been a squatter on America Ground where he had a ready-made clothes shop. This was approximately where 40 Robertson Street is today.

When the ‘Americans’ were given notice to quit in 1835, John Jinks moved to Spittleman’s Down, later called Bohemia Place and now a part of Bohemia Road. He built the sandstone wall on the eastern side of Bohemia Road (probably the walled garden), houses in White Rock and Prospect Place, and ornamental brickwork in Warrior Square. He was also an early landlord of the Wheatsheaf.

In the 1850s some customers spent all day here drinking and playing ‘Four Corners’. This was a game played by throwing a large wooden bowl or ‘cheese’ weighing 6 to 8 lbs [2.7 to 3.6 kg] at four large pins placed at the corners of a square frame, from a distance of about 10 feet.

The Wheatsheaf – the first pub to be built in the Bohemia area of Hastings

During the Pratt family ran the Wheatsheaf, 1848 to 1911, it was popular with skilled artisans and respectable tradesmen, who regarded themselves as superior to the unskilled labouring classes. These men, dubbed the ‘Aristocracy of Labour’, usually wore bowler hats and ties.

In 1919 the landlord, Thomas Skinner was prosecuted for selling over-priced whisky. He was using cheap whisky and selling it from a Johnnie Walker bottle. he claimed his wife put it there by mistake but was fined £10.

After 174 years the Wheatsheaf finally closed in 2010.

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