Driving Hastings forward 01424 205481

Hastings-based Hivac Engineering is a well-established specialist in the manufacture of ultra-high vacuum chambers and equipment used in surface science, semi-conductor and synchrotron particle acceleration. For the latter think CERN and the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, or closer to home Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire.

The type of work that Hivac Engineering undertakes, therefore, is generally low-volume, R&D, but to extremely tight tolerances on large components.

Many of the products manufactured by Hivac Engineering are welded assemblies, made up from a number of machined components, some of which are straightforward, others can be complex. This work is a mix of made to drawing and in-house design, where it employs 3D CAD and Finite Element Analysis. A common thread throughout, though, is the finished accuracy of the welded assemblies, which have to be finished machined, creating a requirement for large capacity, and accurate, machine tools. “Our investment in machine tools is driven by market requirements, if we need a machine we will buy it, but due to the nature of our work, the majority of it being stainless steel, but we also machine refractory materials such as tantalum, molybdenum and high temperature ceramics, such as Boron, Macor and Shapal. As a result we need robust machines that are capable of not only accommodating the parts we make, but also of being able to achieve the quality of machine finish that our customers and products require,” says Paul Lennard, Managing Director, Hivac Engineering.

Investment in machine capacity at Hivac Engineering backs up this point with a heavyweight XYZ 2010 vertical machining centre and an XYZ XL 1100 extra-large lathe being the most recent additions. Key to the decision to buy the XYZ 2010 VMC was its construction, which features a solid cast base, rather than a fabricated one. This 20,000 kg machine provides Hivac with a robust machining platform, added to which is the standard 1000 mm travel in the y-axis, which when combined with the 2000 mm and 800 mm travel in the x and z axes creates a large machining envelope, yet the footprint of the machine is relatively compact for a machine of this capacity. Hivac also took the 4 th axis option with the machine as well for even greater versatility. “We need machines that are capable of machining straightforward and complex parts, and with the XYZ machines this is what you get. This is helped by the use of the Siemens ShopMill 828D control system, which we find extremely easy to use thanks to the conversational programming and operators who are unfamiliar with it quickly get up to speed.”

Changes in personnel and production requirements were also a driver in the choice of the XYZ XL 1100 lathe that was installed in October 2015. Much of the large diameter turning work at Hivac Engineering had been done on manual machines and due to the skill requirement for this work this was becoming a bottleneck. This led to Paul Lennard looking for an alternative and the criteria for the lathe was much the same as for the machining centre, it had to be robust, easy to use and have a relatively compact footprint. “The XYZ XL 1100 met all those criteria as it is an 8000 kg machine, with a solid cast construction, with the bed length that we specified the footprint is only 3930 mm by 2300 mm by 2200 mm, but we can swing 1100 mm over the bed.”

The XL 1100 makes use of the Siemens 840D control, in this case with the ShopTurn variant. Both the ShopTurn and ShopMill controls make use of Siemens JobShop Concept that simplifies all of the on-screen prompts ensuring that programming is quick and easy.

Confidence in the resulting program is enhanced by Siemens’ Line trace graphics that allow the operator to view the program as it progresses through each stage of the cycle, with full 3D graphics assisting the process. “When it comes to investing in machine tools we generally know what we want and with XYZ Machine Tools we know what we will get. The machines are well constructed, the  service and support is excellent and we feel that we get looked after. We must do as these latest two machines take our XYZ plant list to nine machines now, a mixture of five CNC lathes and machining centres with the Siemens control and four ProtoTRAK controlled mills and lathes,” says Paul Lennard.

The annual May Day bikes came to Hastings and for enthusiasts it was a day to remember. The turnout was massive considering the weather wasn’t great but the crowds came out from all over to witness and celebrate motorcycle culture. Check out the pictures we took to see for yourself.


Hastings Pier has finally reopened up to the public following a £14.2 million restoration project, after the structure was gutted by a fire in October 2010.

Yesterday saw the pier open its gates and let the public have a look at what the newest addition to Hastings has to offer.

The pier will open initially with a full service bar and restaurant in the newly renovated pavilion building plus a traditional funfair.
The café and roof terrace in the new The Deck at Hastings Pier building will open over the next few days.

Check out our gallery of photo’s that we took on its opening day. (To view full size click on the images)




The X Factor auditions took place in Priory Meadow this week.

We managed to pop down to the shopping centre on Tuesday morning to see the local talent Hastings has to offer and took some photos of the wannabe superstars waiting to sing their hearts out hoping to eventually get a place in front the famous judges.

Check out our gallery.

Yesterday was the Queens 90th birthday as we reported in our article.  To celebrate this last night hundreds of beacons were lit across the South.

If you missed the lighting of the Hastings beacon being lit then check out our Gallery of a few of the pictures that Stuart Rayment from Lockhart & Hastings Ltd, intellectual properties consultants took on the East Hill where the beacon was lit by volunteers from Hastings Borough Bonfire society and Hastings-based Renegade Pyrotechnics.


In October 2015 Helen Dawes and her daughter Rhianna decided to get busy and create their website The Very Distinguished Pug Company.

The idea for this happened after Helen decided to make a smart outfit for her pug Alfie for a pug meet up that they were going to.  Being a fan of the popular TV program Downtown Abbey this was the look that Helen went for.

When friends of Helens saw the photo’s, they asked her to make one for theirs and from there Helen decided to make up a Facebook and Instagram page to post photo’s of her friends dogs wearing the harness.  This has created a number of followers from all over the world and what gave Helen and Rhianna the idea to start up the Very Distinguished Pug Company.  Rhianna  who has a degree in media and journalism created the website and also looks after all the social media, marketing and PR.

Since the website has been made Helen has made harnesses, bow ties, bandanna’s collars and leads for pug owners in the USA, Europe and Australia.

Helen had to give up work due to a chronic pain condition and auto immune disorder that causes chronic fatigue. She used to work with children and young people with special needs and challenging behaviour. She was also in the previously in the Army and is a keen motorcyclist, and a marshal  at the Isle of Man TT, Moto Gp and British Superbikes, she likes to keep herself busy and hopes to expand by creating more designs and different items.

Check out these handmade outfits by Helen.


Check out the pictures that we managed to take today whilst at Hastings Pier.

Bringing a new modern vibe to the town.


With its grand opening last month, the new skate park along the promenade has taking Hastings by storm and is just what the town has needed to give it a boost and create a number of new jobs on the way.

Earlier this week we got the chance to go and have a look around the park itself, find out some of the background information on the building and have a chat with Matt Brown who helps to run the place, and we were not disappointed.

If you have grown up in Hastings you may know some of the history of the venue, designed by architects Cross, Jefferey, Skiller and Wells, it has been a number of different things over the years from a gentleman’s bath (the women’s came the following year), a cinema, Turkish bath’s and an ice rink.

Finally, after years of being derelict brothers Richard and Marc Moore who run the biggest BMX mail order company in Europe ‘The Source’ decided to make a change to the town and turn the old building into something that would attract the best riders from around the UK and Europe.

The Source park is open to all ages “if you can ride a BMX or stand on a skateboard, your welcome.’

The main skate park is the biggest of the two parks, this is where the old swimming pools and ice rink used to be and  if you not a skater you can sit and watch from the viewing balcony, this is also home to the café.

The Plaza which used to be the ladies swimming pool features smaller ramps and a foam pit which any BMX fan or skater will love, seeing as you have to go down a ramp to get too it.  Although the smaller room there still seems to be plenty of space, with ample ramps and rails to try out.

The Source Park is also home to their award-winning BMX and Skate Shop. The Source shop carries the largest stocks of BMX bikes, parts, skateboards, shoes and clothing in Europe

You can book online to use either park or just turn up. You can also hire BMX bikes, Skateboards and safety equipment if you don’t have any yourself as well.

From the outside of  the venue you can’t judge the amount of space there is inside,  it really its something to see.

We had a guided tour by Matt Brown who told us:

“The arrival of the park has been really good for the town, whether you an existing skater/rider or new to BMXing or skateboarding.  We are starting coaching sessions in March which is creating a real hype in the town, loads more people are giving it a go that probably wouldn’t have done before based on the venue being here and the safety of the venue.”

“Competition wise, we have a really big competition coming up on the 8th September which is ‘The Battle of Hastings’ bmx contest.  We’re flying over 66 of the world’s bmxers , 66 is a play on words because it is the 956 anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.  There is £20000 prize money for the contest and the town will be expected to be full of BMXers, skaters as well as industry people.”

The ’Battle of Hastings’ competition should be great for the town, with thousands expected to turn out for this, also with the opening of the pier in May.  This summer Hastings should have plenty of holiday makers visiting the town to check out all the new attractions, which will hopefully see local businesses booming and making Hastings the place to be in 2016.

We took quite a few pictures when we were down there, check them out below.

Ashley Allwood was made homeless at 16 and moved around sometimes staying in hotels or night shelters. He often lived out of a burgan, only taking what he could carry and had little in the way of people and personal belongings in his life. During this time he had the odd job, but nothing he could maintain due to his circumstances which would mean that he would often lose the job and then his accommodation and would end up back at square one.Ashley Allwood

After meeting a girl Ashley moved to Berlin where they lived together for a year and a half, but due to a lack of available work and Ashley’s difficulties with the language, the relationship failed and he returned to the UK.

This for Ashley was the turning point having returned to the UK, he decided to go back to college and undergo a BTEC in Art and Design at Sussex Coast College Hastings, as he had always had an affiliation, passion and skill within the arts and he felt it was the right time to have a shot at achieving his long-term goal of being a Graphic Designer.

In 2012 Ashley came to Hastings and secured his first flat through Homeworks and started studying. During this year he achieved seven A grades and ‘Student of the year’, as well as putting in an application to The University of Brighton at SCCH to join the Graphic Communication FDA, for which he was accepted. He studied on this course for two years, passing with a Merit and undertaking a few freelance projects to aid his Professional Practice as well as starting his own small market-based business selling prints and art materials.

In 2015 he then progressed on to the BA Top Up for Art and Design, where he sought to hone his skills in Graphic Design, develop his knowledge and develop himself as a Designer as much as possible.

Finally, after deciding that he was in a position to look for work and applying for many Graduate and Junior Design jobs throughout the UK and going to a  number of interviews, Ashley received a call offering him a position as a Graphic Designer and Photographer and is now working for an international sports company and finishes his BA course in June.





FAT promotions are hosting a public open art event bringing together the worlds of illustration, digital and street art, inside the Let’s Do Business exhibition on 30th October.Art

Inspired by the collaborative works of John Dolan and the Howard Griffin Gallery in Shoreditch, our event takes this to the next level by incorporating digital art and interactivity with the internet by beaming out the artworks as they happen.

We would love to welcome all local artists (plus anyone who “can’t draw”!) to come and make their mark on one of our original illustrations of famous Hastings landmarks. It can be as simple as a slogan, graffiti your name, we don’t mind if you just draw your favourite logo on the Town Hall – it’s all about leaving your mark digitally and how that translates across the web.

Read more on our dedicated web page for further info or contact us with any questions. Come and be part of this real time, real world collaborative art movement – all welcome! #TagHastings

This event, which is free, will be taking place at Sussex Coast College, Station Approach, Hastings on 30th October 2014, 10am-4pm

Further information can be found here.