Westfield Police House | East Sussex | People | Places | West Sussex | Transport | Brighton | Police history | History | The Old Police Cells Museum


After a recent conversation with a friend, during which she said how she and her mum had been looking at her childhood home using the Google street view application, I thought I would have a nose around myself.

I thought I would share some of the memories stirred up by my nosing.

My dad was a policeman and back in the day it was the norm for officers to be moved around every couple of years.

My earliest memories are of us living in Lewes, Sussex. But then we upped sticks and moved to Westfield, where dad became the village bobby.

Obviously our history is relatively recent but during my street view rambling I came across this post http://oldpolicecellsmuseum.org.uk/page_id__377_path__0p303p304p183p209p182p208p207p181p.aspx

This was a police house dating from at least 1922 and was also known as Westfield Police Station, the house where I lived during my pre-teens.

It’s a private house now and, externally at least, seems to have reverted back to its original form.

When I knew it, there was a flat roofed extension to the side, with it’s own entrance but was also linked inside. Dads slippers used to sit, on watch,by that adjoining door, waiting for him to come off duty when they would be replaced by a pair of black boots. That is unless Honey, our Corgi, hadn’t stolen away with one of the slippers to her bed in the kitchen. There she used to lick the insides until nice and slimy. Whoe betide anyone foolish enough to put their hand in to try and retrieve the hapless slipper. Corgi’s have sharp teeth.

This was the police station from which my dad worked. There was just room enough inside for a large desk and chair. I remember there being several shelves of files and log books and a cupboard in which dad used to put his police bike and also kept the hand-cranked siren.

Also on the shelves was a mysterious grey electrical box, like a loudspeaker. It had a single control which turned it on and controlled the volume. Every so often dad would turn it on and it would emit a slow steady tick. On occasions the ticking would be replaced by a warbling tone. I subsequently found out that this was part of the national air raid siren system which would be implemented during a nuclear attack. This was my dad’s role if the “four minute warning” was sounded. He would receive a signal through the mysterious box, drag the siren out of the cupboard and crank it up to warn the village of its imminent demise.

What the villagers would have done we can only surmise.

I am pretty sure there would have been a few saying “What the fuck’s that? ”

My years here were quite enlightening. The garden behind the house was over 100 feet long, long enough for me to practice beach casting. I had been given a fishing rod for my ninth birthday.

Slowly over time dad turned our back garden into a smallholding.

Starting with the fruit he planted blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes. We had brambles growing down the side of the plot so always had a plentiful supply of blackberries. We also had a couple of apple trees. Mum turned all that lovely fruit into jams, pies and crumbles, my favourite.

On the veggie front, Dad planted runner and broad beans, potatoes, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, curly kale, sweetcorn and artichokes.

Then there were the chickens. First we had a half dozen or so running around in a large pen. This was soon supplemented by a hen house to protect them from the foxes.

As the supply of eggs grew so did the number of chooks.  Dad even experimented for a while with  battery hens.

Needless to say we kids had plenty to eat and we were encouraged to join in with looking after the chooks, collecting eggs, harvesting fruit and veg and helping in the kitchen.

Our collection of birds increased when dad acquired six geese. Initially they were allowed to roam on the lawn, free effortless grass cutting.
With such close proximity to the house the birds were treated like pets and were given names. Charlie was the gander and the members of his harem were Ethel, Gerty, Snowy and two others whose names escape me.

However,  anyone who knows geese also knows that what goes in is matched by lots of goose poo. Well the geese were soon relegated to their own personal pound at the bottom of the garden. We would occasionally collect goose eggs and everyone took it in turns to have one of those treasures.

It was inevitable, but one Christmas it was decided that we would have goose. Well Ethel was volunteered, executed, plucked drawn and duly cooked. All was fine until Mum sat down to her plated meal, whereupon she wailed “I can’t eat Ethel”.

From that point on we had five pet geese. Sadly that number dropped to four when Snowy became broody and was sitting on her egg(s), wouldn’t eat and died.

Another goosy memory was having to put them to bed at night. This became my job whenever Dad was on nights. Have you ever tried herding geese? Also can you imagine a skinny 10 or 11 year old having to face down an angry gander. A gander that has reared up to his full height, wings spread to their full six foot span and with his neck fully extended, hissing like a nest of vipers. Then in the morning letting them out again. Charlie, the gander, used launch himself out as soon as the door opened wings spread, honking for all he was worth, quickly joined by the girls all joining in the chorus.

Fond memories now but not considered a high point by me at the time. But I learnt about gardening, keeping chickens and that getting food on the table isn’t always pleasant or easy. I don’t recall ever being bored, there was always something to do.

Now I am in my sixties I do hanker after those quieter more genteel times. But now I have arrived in the new century I sure would miss the technology. If only the pace of life would slow down. I guess that is what retirement is for.

If only the rest of the world would slow down too.

We Are Getting Our Garden Back Together, Slowly


After a couple of years of near total neglect we are starting to get our garden back together. Last year was such a crap year weather wise and I was so wacked out from work that I really didn’t feel like gardening. They say “You reap what you sow”. Well we are reaping the rewards for all that lack of maintenance.

All green, before we started the clearance.
All green, before we started the clearance.

Like a lot of big projects it takes a relatively small catalyst to get the ball rolling. In our case it was the state of the perimeter fence. This fence has not had any treatment since it was erected over twenty years ago and, apart from taking an outward lean following a storm in 1988, it has served us well.

A list that started in 1988 and has slowly increased over the years. A bit like the tower in Pisa.
A list that started in 1988 and has slowly increased over the years. A bit like the tower in Pisa.

So we bit the bullet, got a quote and ordered a new fence. Well just the back part which is seventy-five feet long. There is another fifty feet or so, which is in much better shape, but we’ll save that for another day.

Having made the decision we set about clearing the way for the new fence. The contractors would dismantle the existing fence but we thought we would clear as much of the over growth, brambles and ivy, as we could. After a couple of body shattering weekends we had cleared almost all of our side of the fence and I had also made an attempt on the outside so as to give the fencing contractors as clear a space to work in as I could.

So that's what the fence looks like.
So that’s what the fence looks like.
Before_3_IMG_8790
I cut myself a gateway to the outside world.

I have to say that the old fencing didn’t look quite as bad as I thought it would once it was undressed. I knew the posts were rotten at ground level but apart from a couple of arris rails the timber was still sound.

At this stage we were pretty much ready for the contractors to come and get started although they weren’t due for a few days.

Come the due date and there was no sign and I had to phone them to find out that they had buggered off to do another “emergency” job and hadn’t bothered to let me know. Erection day was renegotiated for a week hence with me grumbling under my breath that should they miss that start date then they would be out on their ear. After all, no money had changed hands at this time. Anyway one week later they arrived and set to work.

Out with the old and in with the new.
Out with the old and in with the new.
Day_1_IMG_8797
Nearly there. Only a few more feet to meet up with my neighbours back fence.

The previous photos show the progress at the end of the first day.

By noon the following day they had completed the fence. All was looking good. The shine was taken off, a little, later in the day when my neighbour came round complaining that he had a hole in his fence.

For some reason the guys hadn’t linked my fence to my neighbours, leaving a gap just over a foot wide. My neighbour has a small covered area in the corner of his garden which hid this “gap” from view. Well except that his son could see it when sat in a deck chair. It seems that the new fence has equal spaced posts where the original didn’t. So the guys finished the fence with the new equidistant posts. Out of sight from me in my garden. Out of sight from their boss who didn’t climb over the fence to check their work. Anyway, one phone call and he had them back the next day to complete the job.

New fence, new plants. Getting our garden back.
New fence, new plants. Getting our garden back.

Its amazing how big the garden looks now that all that ivy and other green stuff has been cut back. I’ve also cut back a lot of overhanging branches from the trees so we have more space vertically. A couple of trips to the garden centre to add a splash of colour and we are getting our garden back together, slowly.