During the 1950’s when roads were much quieter we would occasionally cycle up to West Grinstead railway station where one of my predecessors served as stationmaster there in the 1880’s. Rather than returning on the busier road we would drop down to pick up the B2135 to Partridge Green and on to Shoreham.
The first part of the route took us past the catholic church ‘Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation’ at West Grinstead, resting place of the much loved Sussex writer and historian Hilaire Belloc and his wife, then continued along a pretty, meandering switchback of a road with occasional views in the distance to the South Downs.
For centuries Shoreham folk have earned a living from the sea and one hundred years or so ago the fishing families of Ratcliffe, Page, Laker and Maple were prominent. Perhaps the best known of them were the Maples who sold their fish and oysters from their shop at the west end of the High Street in one of the ancient cottages that once stood alongside the King’s Head pub. Continue reading “A Fisherman’s Tale – the Maple Family”
The West Nova Scotia Regiment had been carrying out defensive and security duties at various places in the southeast of England before arriving at Worthing on the 22ndNovember 1941 from their previous posting at Newhaven. Here they took over responsibility for the area including Shoreham Airport from the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The official strength of the Regiment at the time was 36 officers and 840 other ranks.
In the Shoreham area some billeting was arranged for the Canadians in local residents homes but others were also thought to have been housed at the Grammar School in Pond Road (the pupils had been evacuated) and more under canvas in the school’s playing fields, now the Greenacres housing estate, where a searchlight, anti aircraft gun and heavy machine gun emplacements were installed
A chance swop of postcards between collectors Neil De Ville and Alan Humphries revealed previously unnoticed buildings on Shoreham Beach. The image is of the old Norfolk Suspension Bridge and across the river below the bridge span two large shed-like structures can be made out.
The image has been postitively dated as 1921 by local historians at the time when the Bridge was being prepared for demolition so what were the mysterious buildings for? Their location looked to be near Ferry Road and at first sight 1927 aerial photographs seemed to confirm this by showing their likely footprints on the beach, not just of the structures but also a concrete raft or apron on their seaward side. Continue reading “Shoreham’s Mystery Seaplane Base”
In 1782 Shoreham shipbuilder John Edwards is shown as owning land called ‘David’s Marsh’ where today’s Swiss Gardens School now stands, together with, just below it, ‘a meadow embanked.’ This was later acquired by his son-in-law John Britten Balley, his partner in the ship building business. Hitherto, the area had been unsuitable, marsh-land saturated by the waters of the Northbourne Stream on its last stretch before it emptied into the River Adur. The stream’s embankment of 1782 largely cured all that providing Balley with an opportunity to develop the land.
Over the years local historian Neil De Ville has assembled a huge collection of old views of his home town Southwick, nearby Shoreham and of the people that once lived there. Each new acquisition entailed research to accurately identify locations, individuals and their background that collectively have resulted in a comprehensive record of the area’s social and architectural history.
During one recent search Neil happened across three stunning Shoreham photographs he had not seen before that were taken in the 1890’s. These were from the Samuel Butler Albums held by the St. John’s College Library in Cambridge. Samuel Butler (1835 – 1902) was an accomplished writer, artist and photographer. His photograph collection is considerable, recording as it did the people and places he visited both in this country and abroad. The images make up an important social history record of those times and we are lucky enough for him to have chosen Shoreham as one of the places in which to take his photos.