– a collection of images from the galleries and collections of shorehambysea.com illustrating the changes to the area since the 18th century.
What a wonderfully eccentric place it was! Besides a fascinating ropemaking and shipbuilding past there were, in Victorian times, ancient buildings still standing, quaint cottages, wharf houses, a gas works and, spookily, a mortuary alongside an incinerator! In the Little High Street there were peculiarly shaped houses and strange, shop-like windows.
It was never a fashionable area, being part industrial and part residential where the poorer, labouring families largely dwelt. In 1817 William Butler’s poor grammar described it as being “the lower ‘hend’ of town” and goes on to mention a ‘pour new’ shop where he had ‘connections’ with Sarah Fillaps. Something of a mystery and perhaps a pawn shop (a corruption of the French ‘for us’) or as William’s escapades suggest one of the numerous brothels in Shoreham port then?
During the early part of the 19th century Ropetackle included wharf houses, sheds, a brickyard, coal yard, a bonding pond, Thomas Clayton’s deal yard, his cement factory, stables, a mixture of 17th to 19th century houses and even a mill pond. By the Victorian era there was also a sewage plant and of course the gasworks, flint-built ware houses, incinerator and mortuary. It all added to a certain air of eeriness and mystery to the area.
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.
I’ve known about Old Shoreham’s blind Fanny Winton for many years but never got round to reading Martha Rigden’s account in her 1873 book ‘By A Way They Knew Not.’
In clearing some old papers recently I discovered this anonymous resume of the book that condenses Fanny’s story of a hard life, going blind, travelling to Brighton for (somewhat harsh) treatment, bedridden for 30 years etc., and also tells us a little of the area and the people in it.
It may even surprise many local inhabitants to learn that throughout the second half of the last century humble Shoreham-by-Sea in West Sussex was a veritable mecca for many thousands of people. They came from all age groups, from all walks of life, from near and from far; and all intent upon one thing – pleasure: Continue reading “Swiss Gardens – A Short History”
During the 19th and early 20th centuries it was common practice for the commercial areas of most towns and cities to have advertisements painted on the walls of business premises and shops, some were of a high quality, almost works of art. Over the years since most signs have disappeared through overpainting or weather erosion but some still remain. Nowadays they are more appreciated for their historic and artistic value and efforts tend to be made to preserve them. Commonly known now as ghost signs they once appeared most everywhere in Shoreham’s High Street but less so on premises in side streets such as the Beehive pub in North Street and the Burrell Arms Hotel in Brunswick Road. Continue reading “Wall Advertisements”
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries Thomas Stow & Son earned themselves a reputation internationally as a respected designer and builder of good quality luxury racing yachts and other types of boat at their shipyard on the river at Shoreham. In his book ‘The Ships and Mariners of Shoreham historian Henry Cheal lists some of their schooners, yawls, luggers and cutters. These were of high quality, well planned internally to give them a ‘roominess’ rarely matched by other makers. Besides supplying private customers Stows also built many of the boats that carried British troops up the river Nile for the 1884 Sudan Expedition. Continue reading “Stow & Son Yachts”
It often amazes me that a website for a small town like Shoreham attracts visitors from around the world including particularly Australia, America and Canada. One though was especially surprising coming as it did from Estonia and concerned a rather special Shoreham built ship. Continue reading “War Hawk”
Main photo:- Harry Bish, landlord from 1917 to 1932, stands in the old doorway set into today’s Royal Sovereign
Built around the 1750’s it is first recorded as a tenement and garden in 1782 owned by Richard Lashmar and occupied by John and Sarah Purse. Ann Foster, a Church Street resident and landlady of a number of rented houses, then acquired the property letting it out to Thomas Carver during the 1820’s and 30’s. Continue reading “The Royal Sovereign”
“…… the shouts of the workers, the creak of the rope and winches, the ringing of the signal bells and the pervading smell of tar must have left a strong impression on the senses.”
Rope and sail making has been an important part of Shoreham’s shipbuilding industry for hundreds of years but it is only during the 18th and 19th centuries that we know more of the men and their families involved.