Newsletter No.9

By Vic Lander

                         East Brighton Bygones Local History Society


Issue No 9 March 2009


We have had a busy month since our last newsletter involving subjects that will be reported in the following sections contained in this issue.

I am sure members will be delighted to hear that the two students who visited us in January received a very high award of a 'merit' for the project they were carrying out.  You may remember the project dealt with the effect the slum clearance had on residents in the 1930's.

The students, Matthew Homewood and Michel Maher, were extremely magnanimous in their thanks for the invaluable help and assistance we were able to give them.  It is very satisfying to see that one of the main aims of our society, to provide support and information to students and researchers, is being fulfilled in such a successful way.

If any member would like to read the fourteen-page essay a copy will be available in the library.  Should anyone want their own personal copy would they please contact Vic Lander.

As you will read later Matthew has once again approached us for assistance for his next project.

The introduction of the new appendices 'Bygones on the Web' seems to have found favour with you the members; therefore it will now become a regular feature.

As was reported in the last issue, the other new innovation that we publish the newsletters on the web site, has also taken place and these can now be read worldwide.

News of members
Our President, Fred Netley, is not too well and is rather 'down' at the moment.  There is nothing Fred likes more than to hear from us from time to time.  Some of you may like to ring him for a chat to cheer him up.

Apologies to Jean Clack for not mentioning her injured arm last month, but it is good to note that she is now recovering and receiving physiotherapy treatment.

Flora did not attend the last meeting and it is to be hoped that this was not caused by ill health

General news

The project to become involved with the tours of the air-raid shelters at WhitehawkPrimary School, has taken a good deal of our time in the last month.  Bob Cristofoli, Sheila and Charley Coverdale, Bob Nutley and Vic Lander attended a training session with Dudley Button.  This was to explain the location of equipment etc. and the workings of the various gadgets.

The following day the same group, with exception of Vic, accompanied Dudley as he conducted a tour of persons from the Bristol Gate Residents Association

The shelters are run under the umbrella of the Schools Parent Teacher Association (P.T.A.) and they have invited us to send a representative to their meetings.  We were delighted to accept, and one of our team will be in attendance.

Hazel Bradley is doing a great job in producing an up-to-date members' list.  When completed and the details confirmed it will be issued to members as a small booklet containing contact details.
Recent activities
The speaker at the February meeting was our own Pam Piercey.  Pam gave a fascinating and amusing account of her membership of the local home guard during W.W.2.  Pam's position was somewhat unique as there were very few women who served in that august organisation.  As always with Pam's talks all who attended found the contents most enjoyable and we thank her most sincerely for her efforts

Ten members attended the February 'Char and Chat' afternoon.  Our now well known student, Matthew Homewood, attended with two colleagues to interview members for his new project which will be reported on more fully in the next section.

External contacts
The project that Matthew Homewood is now involved with is the history of seaside piers.  As in Brighton, we had two world-famous piers.  Matthew felt that our members might well be able to assist him. The new project involves not just an essay but also a video, so Matthew and his colleagues have had to become familiar with using cameras and sound equipment.  In addition to filming and interviewing at our 'Char and Chat' afternoon some members were interviewed and filmed on location near to the 'Brighton Pier' which will be forever known by true Brightonians as the'Palace Pier', and adjacent to the remains of our once wonderful 'West Pier'.

Those members involved in the location shots were Bob Cristofoli and Sheila and Charley Coverdale.  It was a great pity the our own Bob Nutley was not interviewed because, in addition to using the piers for entertainment, Bob also installed communication equipment on to both piers when employed by British Telecom.

Our members received the news of the closure of St. Mary's Hall with shock and concern.  The school and the chapel, known to many of us as St. Mark's Church, have been an icon and a landmark loved by residents of Brighton for many, many years.  Members will know that our society has an excellent relationship with the school and our very successful exhibition would not have been held without the school's support.  Vic has passed on our concern to members of the school staff and an offer of whatever help and support we can provide.

Forthcoming events
The next 'Char and Chat' get-together will be on 25 March commencing at 2.00 p.m.

Requests for information

Members will be able to see any contacts that have been made via our website in the new appendix 'Bygones on the Web'.

Members' Stories

The contribution this month is not so much a story but more like memories.  Members may remember that a chap named Tim Sargeant who had lived in and around Sussex Square contacted me.  I had wondered whether Tim was the same person of that name who appeared in the book about childhood in the square entitled 'The Tree Climbers'.  This proved not to be the case but, during our discussion, I mentioned Pam Piercey and her connections with the area.  Tim became motivated to contact Pam and eventually Pam agreed to be contacted by him.

The following is a copy of the E-mail sent me by Tim after his contact with Pam:-

"Dear Vic,

Thank you so much for putting me in touch with Pam; It seems she knew me
when I was a small boy in 'The Square'.  Also, she and / or her nephew were photographed by my mother at 38 Sx Sq when we lived there and my mother's 'studio' was at the house. My mother specialised in child studies under the name 'Portraits by Paula'. I may have told you this before, but I have no idea why she chose this name for her photography as her name was Doris. Pam also remembers us having the flat above the garages at the Bristol Garage in Church Place after we left the Square.

We were able to reminisce about Sussex Square in the days just after the
War and exchange a few names which we remember from those far-off days. In fact she was able to remember the 'Timmy' from the book 'The Tree Climbers' and his half-brother Peter. It seems the elder of these two was Peter DeHavilland, a far flung relative of the aircraft firm, and the younger was Timmy Martinez, and apparently there was also a sister, Billie. Their mother had been married several times. (Not unusual in Sussex Square for some reason!) 

I'm not sure if I told you that I was able to obtain a copy of that book from a bookshop in Midhurst when we went down to Wiltshire to visit our son some time before Christmas. I found it most interesting. The wonders of the internet!

I may have mentioned to you our friends Lucy Sedgebeer and 'J C' Smythe
of Sussex Mansions; Pam had also heard that the Mansions could have been owned by 'JC' but she could shed no light on his activities as a Shakespearian actor which I was told he was. Sedgie and JC lived together for years and this was frowned upon in those days.  Apparently Pam said that Sedgie was sometimes referred to as his secretary. However no-one seems to know just what the initials 'JC' stood for. I have tried to find out more about him from such places as the Theatre Museum at the V&A etc but without success.  I have an interest as he wrote a poem about me when I was about five which I mentioned to Pam and she said that this seemed to ring a bell with her so perhaps he was a writer of some sort. Most people didn't know that Miss Sedgebeer's name was Lucy as she was just known as 'Sedgie' to all. I have portrait photos of both her and JC in my mother's negs.

We also talked about the small number of cars in the 'Square' in those
days and she mentioned her aunt who had a 1934
Austin 10hp Cabriolet which was painted grey and black. When the aunt
died this car was given to Pam's nephew who lives in Ringmer. (Not sure if that's the same one that my mother photographed?) 
This is also amazing to me as I have a 1934 Austin 10hp 'Colwyn' cabriolet which I have owned since 1966 and am only the second owner. I started to overhaul this about 1968 and it is still in bits. Perhaps if I see another one it might give me the enthusiasm to put it back together. I told her I have aphoto of the large pine tree at the top of Sx Sq that fell in one of those August storms we used to have down there and this fell onto someone's 1935 Austin 10 which can be seen underneath the tree. I must get round to printing off some of these negs.

Unfortunately after you and I last discussed this I was ill again for a bit and in hospital and just didn't get round to doing it. My wife said it was too cold for me to go out into my portakabin where my darkroom is and so it got left until it gets warmer. Anyway Pam is going to send me a copy of the photo of her and nephew so that I can identify them in my mother's negatives. I am sure that I will be in touch with her again soon!

Pam also knew Mary Johnson whose husband had the Clarence Garage in the
40s and 50s and also lived in The Leas. I think she is still alive and lives in Saltdean now. I have spoken to the son who was one of the 'Michaels' in the Square. I think I told you there were several Michaels, Michael 1, 2, and 3. Can't remember the other's names for the minute. Of course I'm talking about the 1945 to 1955 period although several of the families from the flats in the Square had moved on to their own houses by the mid fifties. It seems that a lot of young families started out with a flat rented from Rendell Estates in Sussex Square and paid the extra £2/10/0 a year for a key to The Gardens where the children could play safely and when their finances improved they moved on to better accomodation.

Must go now; Many thanks and all the best."

As well as being most interesting I feel that these memories demonstrate how societies such as ours can, by putting people back in contact, bring a great deal of joy to those involved.  In addition to Tim's obvious delight in contacting Pam I know that Pam was equally thrilled with the contact.

Subject and date of next meeting

The next monthly meeting will be held on 13 April 2009.  This will be the Annual General Meeting.  After completion of the formal business, our senior Web editor Keith, assisted by Tricia and Vic, will be taking members through the content of our archive

As usual the meeting will be held at the Whitehawk Valley Social Centre in Whitehawk Way and will commence at 2pm.

And finally ......

Beryl Tucknott felt that members might like this rhyme

A Royal Rhyme
First William the Norman
Then William his son
Henry, Stephen and Henry
Then Richard and John

Next Henry the third
Edwards one, two and three
And again after Richard
Three Henrys we see

Two Edwards. Third Richard
If rightly I guess
Two Henrys, sixth Edward
Queen Mary, Queen Bess

Then Jamie the Scotsman
The Charles who they slew
Yet received after Cromwell
Another Charles too

Next James the second
Ascended the throne
The good William and Mary
Together came on.

Till Anne, George four
And fourth William all past
Came the reign of Victoria
Which longest did last
Then Edward the peacemaker
He was her son
And fifth of the Georges
Was next on the run.

Edward the eighth
Gave the crown to his brother
Now God's sent Elizabeth
All of us love her!

Have a great month.  Spring is just around the corner!                                        Editor.

This page was added on 20/03/2009.