Shoreham’s Mystery Seaplane Base

 

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.

Photo by permission of Neil De Ville and Alan Humphries

 

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”

Swiss Gardens – The Early Years

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.

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The Samuel Butler Collection, 1891 Shoreham Photos

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.

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The Robertsons and their Bungalows

Alexander Duff Robertson, the son of a Scottish industrialist, began business as the proprietor of a laundry in London. He later became predominantly involved in property development both in London and Shoreham. During WW1 he was a captain in the RFC/RAF and afterwards served on Shoreham‘s Urban Council.

Alexander purchased land on Shoreham Beach and went on to build a number of bungalows there for himself, his family and to let out. During their time in Bungalow Town the building work and subsequent residency in their homes was uniquely recorded in a collection of photographs and ephemera that have been generously donated by a descendant who bears the self same names a his forbear. Continue reading “The Robertsons and their Bungalows”