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Friday 20 April 2012

The "scrabbleman" Trail.

October 2016:

"scrabbleman" (or woman) is back!
Two local street art devotees spotted a brand new "scrabbleman" piece in early October 2016, the first new piece after an absence of four years!
"Say Hello To Strangers" can be found in one of the shelters on the promenade between St Leonards Warrior Square and Hastings Pier, a popular past location for "scrabbleman".

Of course the question that everyone is now asking is, "Is this the return of scrabbleman, and are there more new pieces waiting to be discovered?"
This new piece certainly bears all the hallmarks of those original pieces, so I don't think there;s any doubt that this has been made/created by the same person. Made they'd just run out of Scrabble pieces, and were building up a new supply?
Either way, it's good to see him or her back again.

Original Post:

After all the recent coverage on both BBC Radio Sussex and BBC South East Today, which i was lucky enough to have been involved in. I thought i'd produce a bit of a "scrabbleman" trail for all those who may want to search out these mysterious and intriguing art works for themselves.

The trail will mostly take you along St Leonards and Hastings seafront and is around 2 miles long. New additions may, of course, make this a little longer. But, it is easily walkable.
All pieces are either on, or quite close to the seafront. But, some kind of street map would be useful.

I am purposely not giving exact locations in my descriptions of the sites, as half the fun is trying to find them for yourself.
None of the pieces are hidden and they are all in public places. All are easily spotted, as long as you keep your eyes peeled.

I'm not suggesting that this is in anyway the definitive trail, but it's the way that i would do it if you want to see all of the current pieces.

It can be done in either direction, but i would start at the St Leonards end of the trail.

1 - "Love More"

A fairly new addition and the most westerly so far.
This piece can be found on the back of a speed camera, in the middle of the main seafront road! It is also the first not to be on a wall. The fact that it is located on a speed camera suggests that it might not last for long, before it is removed.
A probable companion piece to the recent "Hate Less" discovery in the Old Town of Hastings.
This is the most westerly remaining piece and "Hate Less" is the most easterly. A coincidence?
This first piece is very close to the famous St Leonards "Banksy". The "Banksy" is below the seafront promenade, nearly opposite the speed camera. So, why not have a look at that before you continue onwards?

Here is a photo of the "Banksy" to whet your appetite:

2 - 'Metropolis Apocalypse'

Just when you think the whole 'scrabbleman' phenomenon has died, up pops an undiscovered piece. At first, all us local street art fans were hoping that this piece signalled the return of 'scrabbleman'. But, closer inspection of this newly discovered piece shows that it has probably been there along. You can see quite clearly, in the top right hand corner, where the ivy has grown under the artwork and damaged it.
Also notice the use of the upside down 'W' used instead of an 'M' and the Junior Scrabble 'A'.
This piece can be found part way up the steps leading from the left hand side of St Leonards Parish Church, up to West Hill Road.
It certainly makes you wonder how many more undiscovered 'scrabbleman' pieces there could be out there just waiting to be found.

 3 - "Buy Less"

Another of the two word pieces and another new one.
This can also be found near the 'Banksy', in the seafront car park. It is low down and not easy to spot. I even walked past it myself at first.

4 - "Grow More"

Yet another two word piece and a new addition.
You will indeed need to grow more to reach this one as it is up high on a wall on the lower seafront promenade. The first piece to be located on the lower prom. It is close to the next piece.

5 - "First They Came"

This can be found on the seafront opposite the Royal Victoria Hotel, in St Leonards.
It has been suggested that this might be the first piece, partly because of the message. But, nobody is sure about this.
Notice the little cat doodle next to the piece and also the plaque underneath. This suggests that the current piece may well be a second attempt?

6 - "They Got The Guns....."

A new piece and another one to be found on St Leonards seafront. But, this time it's just a little bit harder to spot.
This piece is actually down the slope of the entrance to an underground carpark. It is still easily visible, just as long as you keep your eyes open.
The words are actually lyrics from a song by The Doors, "Five To One". Lyrics seem to be becoming a common theme in recent "scrabbleman" pieces.
Notice the toy gun that has been used instead of spelling out the word "gun". This is the first time that something other than a letter has been used.

7 - "I'm Mad As Hell"

This piece is in an alleyway off of Norman Road, St Leonards.
This alleyway also contains a big white stencilled horse done by "Stewy" and one of several colourful boxes that are dotted around the town.
This piece is sadly no more (October 2016). The Stewy horse and other street art has also been removed, but by who?

8 - "Be The Change"

Just as we lose one piece of "scrabbleman" art from the Jerwood Gallery, this piece pops up in St Leonards. So, it's good to see that "scrabbleman" is still active. and has not been put off.
This is the furthest one from the seafront so far and is to be found in an alleyway between London Road and Kings Road, in St Leonards.
Once again, this contains an un-numbered scrabble tile.

9 - "Trident Or NHS"

Another recent discovery and potentially the first "scrabbleman" copycat piece?
This piece can be found on the side of a building on the bottom end of Norman Road, St Leonards, opposite Western Road.
Local "scrabbleman" enthusiasts are undecided as to whether this is a "scrabbleman" original, or not.
There are a number of reasons for the indecision. If you are following the trail, you may well be able to spot some of our reasons for yourself. Even if you are just an armchair follower, some reasons may well be evident. See if you can come up with any of your own.
In the meantime, the jury is still out on this one.

10 - "Them Belly Full, But We Hungry"

A newish find and the second to quote from a reggae song/poem. This time the lyrics are from Bob Marley.
Notice that both letter "Y's" are not scrabble tiles and look like printing blocks. Well, there aren't as many of those in the game are there? "scrabbleman" is obviously running  low on supplies.
This piece can be found back on the seafront promenade at the St Leonards end of Bottle Alley and right opposite the next one on the trail.
(This piece has recently disappeared)

11 - ?

This ex-piece is located on the St Leonards end of Bottle Alley.
I have no idea if it was vandalised, or rejected by "scrabbleman". The letter grouping doesn't correspond with any other known piece. It looks as though it may be an earlier effort, as it is on a black slate, rather than the moulded design of later pieces.
But, what could it have said?
This piece has now gone.

12 - "Sex, Drugs, Dole"

This piece is in a shelter on the seafront promenade, between Warrior Square, in St Leonards and Hastings Pier.
This is one of a few more recent pieces that contain letters without numbers on. It has been suggested by members of the local Twitter community, that these un-numbered pieces may contain a clue as to the idendity of "scrabbleman". An anagram perhaps?
We have since discovered that they are in fact just pieces from the Junior version of the Scrabble game. So, maybe "scrabbleman" has started to run out of original scrabble pieces?

13 - "Smile"

This is one of the newer pieces to be discovered. Which is good news because it shows that "scrabbleman" is still active after all of the recent publicity and attention.
It can be found further along the seafront promenade, towards Hastings Pier.
Once again this piece includes an un-numbered scrabble tile, plus a tile with green edging. The first one like that.
This piece has now been joined by some others, making a total of four pieces on this seafront shelter. See below for more details.
Unfortuately, this piece has now been removed. By whom, nobody knows.

14 -  "Usmev"

As mentioned above, this piece is located on the same seafront shelter as "Smile". It apparently translates as "Smile", but in Czech.
This is the only piece, of this set of four, that is currently still in place.

15 - "Bisir"

Once again located on the same shelter as the last two pieces. This is also believed to translate into "Smile", but i'm not sure into which language. Any help would be appreciated. It has been suggested that it could be in Russian?
This piece has now been removed.

16 - "Cuoi"

Yes, you guessed it. This is also on the same shelter. This apparently translates into "Smile" in Vietnamese.
So, "scrabbleman" is both multi-lingual and knows his musical lyrics.
This piece has also been removed.

17 - "'Stings"

Sadly, this piece was removed, or vandalised within a day of it having been recently discovered. So, it is no longer visible. A close look at the photo will show a toy axe and sword within the piece. References to aspects of Hastings perhaps? The Battle Of Hastings and Pirate Day maybe?
This was located in a skate park, off of Falaise Road, near the seafront. It has been suggested that this may have been another copycat piece, hence its removal?
Thanks to Paul, @oldtownpaul on Twitter for this photo.

18 - "Big Society, Big C*nt"

Another very political piece and the first to contain swearing. This has led some people to believe that this could also be a copycat piece.
This was the first piece that i actually discovered myself. But as you can see, it had already been damaged. Somebody has tried to prise it off of the wall. Maybe it is a copycat piece and "scrabbleman", or an associate wanted it removed for that reason? Many theories have been discussed amongst local "scrabbleman" enthusiasts. But, with no definitive answers forthcoming.
It is located on some steps, leading from Falaise Hall/Clambers, down towards the seafront, opposite Hastings Pier.
This is another piece that has been removed. Maybe this is not too surprising, due to the nature and content of the wording?

19 - "We Want To Live"

This piece could have been found on the seafront. This time between Hastings Pier and Robertson Street.
This wass the second piece that was actually located below eye level. So, it was easier to miss than most of the others.
There is another un-numbered tile in this piece and also a red edged tile too. It does make you wonder where "scrabbleman" is getting all of these tiles from?
The piece has now been removed, possibly because it was so easy to get to?

20 - "Read, Read"

This can be found up some steps, near the public library in Claremont, Hastings. This is just off of the seafront, past Hastings Pier.
Is "Read, Read" a reference to the nearby library perhaps?

21 - " Je Taime Visage De Singe"

The only piece, so far, that is in French. Nobody seems to know why either.
The message apparently translates as "I Love You Monkey Face". What could that mean?
This can be found at the Hastings end of an underpass between Hastings town centre and the seafront.

22 - "You Are Loved"

This can be found above the entrance of another pedestrian underpass, this time in Hastings town centre itself.
Due to the design, it is thought that this is one of the earliest pieces.
It's amazing how many people walk past this everyday and fail to spot it.

23 - "Fite Dem Back"

A new addition and one only discovered during the recent May Day bank holiday weekend.
It can be found part way up some steps between George Street, in the Old Town of Hastings and Hastings Castle.
The expression "Fite Dem Back" is the title of a song/poem by the reggae poet Linton Kwesi Johnson. I wonder if this is significant?

24 - "Hate Less"

The least visible piece yet and one of the latest discoveries.
Could this be a reference to the new Ben Eine artwork "Breath Less", which can be found a short distance away? (See below for photo)
This can be found in a small passage way in West Street, in the Old Town of Hastings. West Street runs parallel to George Street, so it is not far from the last piece.
Maybe "scrabbleman" is becoming a bit more secretive and making us search a bit harder to find his work?

25 - "Love You Like I Love You"

After a period of nearly two months, a new piece by "scrabbleman" has recently been discovered.
It can be found in Oak Passage, which is off of the High Street in the Old Town of Hastings. It can also be seen, from a distance, from Butlers Gap in George Street.
It is felt that this is probably an old piece that had just not been spotted by anyone. Although, the local "scrabbleman" fans are hoping that this isn't the case and that more pieces will appear.
The wording could well be quoting lyrics once again. There are a few options including songs by Justin Timberlake and the Yeah Yeah Yeah's.

26 - "Make Up Your Own Mind"

Another piece with non numbered scrabble tiles.
This was to have been found on the side of the new Jerwood Gallery in the Old Town of Hastings.
Could the message be suggesting that you should think about either the controversial gallery itself, or the artworks contained within?
There were rumours that this piece was to be taken down due to the potential damage that may be being caused to the brand new tiles on the Jerwood Gallery.
Sadly, this proved to be the case and this piece has now been removed by the Jerwood Gallery.
An explanation as to why can be found here.
It is being kept by the Jerwood Gallery, for safe keeping, until "scrabbleman" comes to collect it. Hopefully, another place could then be found to display it? I wonder if "scrabbleman" will go and collect it though?

That brings you to the end of the "scrabbleman" trail proper. At least for the moment anyway.
But, i'm going to show you a "bonus" piece which may, or may not, show the potential orgins of "scrabbleman".

27 - "The Black Winkle"

This can be found on a wooden building just a bit further up Rock A Nore road from the Jerwood Gallery. It is not easy to spot. I walked past it myself at first.
It is made up of scrabble tiles and has been nailed into the wood, instead of being mounted. This has obviously been there some time, judging by the rust. Notice the real black winkle next to it.
Could this be the origin of "scrabbleman"? Nobody knows.
(Since originally writing this blog post, i have now met and spoken to the artist who did this "The Black Winkle" piece. It is actually located on the entrance to his art studio. He insists that he is not "scrabbleman" and that this piece of his is purely a coincidence. I believe him)

Depending on which route you took when walking this trail, you should have noticed other pieces of local street art on your way. I certainly hope that you did.
These include the famous Ben Eine mosaic of Prince Charles, several more stencils by "Stewy", some coloured boxes, huge moths and much more. So, keep you eyes open on the way.

A short detour at the end of the trail, into the High Street in the Old Town of Hastings, will bring you to the brand new piece by Ben Eine, "Breath Less".

Good isn't it?

I'm hoping that new pieces of Scrabble Art will appear, be talked about and shared by the local Twitter community in Hastings. If they do, i will update this trail as needed.
As you may have noticed, some pieces have now been removed by persons unknown.
Street art, by its very nature, is ephemeral. So, we can't expect it to last forever. But, it is still a great pity when street art as original as this is damaged, stolen, or simply removed.

Why not follow the hashtag #scrabbleman on Twitter to see if there are any further developments in either the search for more pieces, or the mystery of who scrabbleman, or is it scrabblewoman, really is?

All the photo's in this trail were taken by myself, unless otherwise credited.
To see more, including extra photo's of the scrabble art, visit my Flickr album of street art at:

Happy hunting.

If you do follow this trail yourself, please let me know how you get on. Also, please let me know of any new pieces that you may find yourself, or of any changes to the pieces listed above.
Thank you.

Updated on 4th October 2016.


  1. If only I were anywhere close enough to actually go on the trail... But I thank you for sharing it!

  2. It would be great to be able to show you around the trail Ken. Maybe one day?

  3. Those are very intriguing. Can;t wait to see where it all leads.

    - Carl (NaturalTwentyFilms on YouTube)

  4. Carl: The story continues, as we have lost one, but gained another in the last day alone :)

  5. Fascinating artist and works. "Fite dem Back" is one of my fave LKJ pieces: "fashist an di attack, wi wi' fite dem back... we gonna smash their brains in / cause they ain't got nofink in 'em" ^_^

    1. I've been a fan of Linton Kwesi Johnson for years & love that piece too. As you say, it's all fascinating and i'm very glad that these pieces of art are in my home town.
      Sadly, some of them are now starting to look a little faded, due to the sun. But, that's the nature of street art i guess?

  6. Great post, i have read there most wonderful arkamos product value and customer service for ada signage, wall plaques, plaques, custom wall plaques, engraved plaques.