A 1940’s/50’s childhood in Connaught Avenue and West Street by Gerry White
I was born in Connaught Avenue, Old Shoreham parish in 1938 and apart from the war years, lived and grew up in Old Shoreham. In 1946 the front gardens were still planted with vegetables. The big air raid shelter was in position on the green that separated the even number houses on the north side of the road from the odds on the south side. Orchard Close had not been built and the land was owned by the Worley family.
I am sure that so long as people continue to live in Shoreham there will always be characters around. Some memorable and maybe a few that are perhaps best forgotten. In the past I have just written the odd story about one or two individuals but I have now been asked to collate them into a story and this is it…….wish me luck!
In 1952, I started an Apprenticeship at White and Co. The trade I was to learn was that of Wood machining, It meant, travel to Brighton Technical College twice weekly for two evening classes, and one all day class, which combined with one of the evening classes. It was a long day leaving Shoreham at 8am and returning at 10:30, all for £1 10/- weekly, no assistance with train fares. The Hourly week was 44 hours. Of course the evening classes from 7 until 9 pm were extra.
– the new school photographs and plans in 1936 with reminiscences of former pupils from the 1940’s to 1990’s
Built in 1936 on a five-acre site in Middle Road, Kingston, where the recreation ground is now but then in land that had largely been used as fruit orchards and nurseries by the Cook’s Jam Factory in Dolphin Road. Initially opened as a boys’ senior elementary school for 360 pupils it included a number of unusual features (for those days) in both design and construction. It was built of reinforced concrete and flat roofs to allow for future extensions to be placed on top of the ground floor building and enabled wider spans for rooms that, with the large Crittall windows also installed gave pupils and teachers a bright and spacious environment.
An excellent photograph has arrived from Colin Wadey who has kindly permitted us to re-publish it here. This is Middle Road Secondary Boys School in 1946, around 10 years after the school was built. Colin has listed his classmates – with quite a few familiar Shoreham names in the roll.
As a child I read that Wilmot Road had been named after Lord Wilmot a supporter of King Charles, and his son Prince Charles, who escaped to France, this could not have been done without the help from the Noble Lord.
I also found out that Lennox Road, was named after an earlier Member of Parliament, who had represented Shorcham. I had never before given much thought to the origin of Street names. Therefore I decided to make notes and to find out more about other streets in this ancient town. I was not disappointed.
No 1440 squadron Air training Corps ATC ,was founded at Middle Road School in 1941, At wars end in 1946 the Squadron was given premises at the Dome on the Airport, there were a number of associated wooden Huts used as lecture rooms , When I joined in 1951, the meetings were Tues and Thurs 7 til 9 30 pm. The Commanding Officer was Flt Lt Sidney Cole a wartime RAF Officer Flight Commanders were Flt Lt Kenneth Winstone,Fg Off Norman Finch and Fg Off Kenneth Guest , the Squadron had three flights Shoreham Lancing and Steyning. at that time membership was approximately 60 , an Adult Warrant Officer Wilfred Stephenson and Civilian Instructors Gerald Woolvern Alan Morgan and Thomas Pollington , Lectures on dress deportment, and drill were given , the squadron had approx. 25 .303 Lee Enfield Rifles of WW1 vintage. The Squadron members were taught Morse Code, basic Engine function , and map reading , hobbyists took part in model making on Sunday Mornings as did the Drum and Bugle Band ,The Squadron took part in Annual Summer Camps held at RAF Stations for one week duration each cadet was given a flight in service aircraft and fired on the weapons range ,The joining age was 13 years leaving at age 18.
Our terraced house with three bedrooms, was in Connaught Avenue built in 1936, it had modern conveniences, for those days, with Electricity, gas , an Ideal Boiler for heating water, and a fireplace in every room, apart that is, from the small bedroom at the front of the house. My mother did the weekly wash in a Copper gas heated boiler, which had a wringer mounted above it. Most importantly there was a bathroom, with flush toilet,bath, and wash basin. The style was Art Deco with period tiled fire places, and stained glass designs either side of the front door. There was a service road to the rear of the house enabling coal deliveries, and the Dustbins to be emptied. In 1948 the gardens had been restored to the prewar condition , with a lawn in the front garden and the rear planted for vegetables.
A unique record of Shoreham’s war as seen through the eyes of the people that lived through it. Probably the most complete record to date of wartime edited from the reminiscences of many contributors to the shorehambysea.com web site history forums and others, in particular Gerald White (whose article ‘Shoreham in World War 2 – A Diary of Events’ has provided much general information for the background of this record) and John Lyne who were both near neighbours in Connaught Avenue. Special acknowledgment is also due to Peggy Bailey a Shoreham Beach resident, Cynthia Bacon once of Swiss Gardens for her memories and photos and to Brian Bazen who lived in Eastern Avenue whose reminiscences in full can be seen on ‘Britain at War’ at Telegraph.co.uk Continue reading “Shoreham’s War”