Swiss Mystery

This 1914 aircraft crash by the Shoreham/Horsham railway line bank shows buildings in the background that are difficult to identify. If the crash site is about point 1 then what is the long building at 2 to the left of the terrace of houses at Buckingham Street? The Swiss Cottage pub roof level may be too low to show above the bank and isn’t as long as that anyway. Was it a still standing building in the Gardens or the newly built, yet to be opened Victoria Road school?
The most likely surviving building is the one at 3 – it looks like two towers on a longish building but to the left of the trees that stood in the grounds of the school, but what was it?

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Did you know? – part 8

….. that Shoreham’s Swiss Gardens was once a famous and well attended attraction.The biggest attendances were achieved when societies, clubs and companies organized their annual functions there. The southern arm of the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows held their annual fetes at the gardens often amounting to 4,000 visitors (1852). In 1856 Messrs.Truman and Hanbury the owners of the London brewery, the largest in the world then, hired a complete train from the capital to Shoreham for their workers, their wives and sweethearts.

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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Swiss Gardens in 1858


Swiss Gardens in 1858

Shoreham’s Swiss Gardens as described in its heyday including the delightful sketches made at the time supplemented by further images from the collections of the web site. The anonymous author of this article writes in typical Victorian journalese that is seemingly influenced by Charles Dickens’ comic descriptions of people and their names. He (the author) pokes fun at the people visiting the gardens (e.g., the British Sweetheart and his Adored One), the buildings and exhibits (the observatory looking like a “Brobdignagian wheat sheaf or stack of scaffold poles”; a museum of mixed early English with railway station architecture containing an uninspiring shark’s backbone and walrus tusk) but seems honestly impressed with other aspects such as the hot water laid on from spouts set into a wall, the slide shows, the commodious theatre and impressive gardens.

The beginning of this piece starts with Brighton but is also worth reading as it includes mention of Brighton personalities and places. It also includes an astute observation of the London trippers that came down by train for their day out looking for cheap entertainment (a description that rings true even now) and ultimately finding this at Shoreham.

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