Earlier this year I took a bit of a trip down memory lane and somehow ended up in the Sussex village of Brede. Now Brede is just a couple of miles up the road from my home in Westfield, another Sussex village. My mates and I used to take off on our bikes, with our fishing rods, and spend the day along the banks of the Brede River. What we never knew was, that less than half a mile away, as the crow flies, there were giants !!!

Of course, these aren’t the mythological giants of legend. These giants are of the steam variety. As pre-teenage kids we were totally unaware of the wonders that were working so hard just a short distance away.

The “giants” were two Tangye engines with their associated pumps which were installed in 1904, and a third manufactured by Worthington Simpson , added in 1940. All three units operated until the end of steam in 1964. 

The water, pumped by these giants, was drawn from large wells penetrating the rock (Ashdown Sandstone aquifer) beneath the River Brede. It was purified and then pumped into service reservoirs on The Ridge above Hastings for distribution by gravity via the pipe networks serving Hastings.

Of course, there is more here than just the “giant” steam engines. There are many other steam pumps and engines. Some were originally from this site. Others have been donated from further afield. The folks that work here are all volunteers and they work very hard to maintain a working display of this old technology.

Also on this site there are artifacts from more recent years, from the time of the cold war. There is nuclear bunker, one of three built by Southern Water as an emergency control centre to become operational in the event of nuclear war. It was never completed and work on the bunker appears to have stopped in 1992.

Following our visit to Brede Water Works we headed up to Brede village for a bite to eat and not before long we were sat in the beer garden at the rear of the Red Lion pub.

The Red Lion is a family run 15th Century pub serving an interesting range of freshly cooked dishes. The menu features locally caught fish from Hastings & Rye, meat from Hastings, locally sourced & homegrown fruit & vegetables and wild mushrooms foraged in Brede High Woods.

Here I had one of the best seafood platters, ever. With some of the home made “Brede Bread” on the side.

Just round the corner from the Red Lion is St. Georges church.

St. Georges has quite a history. Here is just a short piece that I have quoted from their own website.

In about 1017, soon after his marriage to Emma of Normandy, King Canute granted a land called ‘Rammesleah’ to the Abbey at Fecamp in Normandy. Construction of the present church in around 1180 was probably funded by the Abbott of Fecamp. Until 1413 Brede remained under the domination of the Abbey and the parish was served by its Benedictine monks until ‘alien’ (foreign) priories were dissolved buring the reign of King Henry VIII.

The name of the village is first found in a charter of c1030 and comes from Olde English ‘bredu’ meaning breadth’ referring to the wide river to the south.

The River Brede later took it’s name from the village.

The Church is dedicated to St. George, probably a soldier martyred in Palestine in the early 4th century. Besides also being Patron Saint of England he is remembered above all for the legend of ‘St. George and the Dragon’. There is a window dedicated to him at the west end of the north aisle and a statue near the altar in the church. Very little of the earlier Norman building remains and the structure of the Church developed over a period of some 400 years from the 12th century onwards.

From the exterior, much of what one sees is 15th century Perpendicular architecture.  The walls were built of local sandstone and ironstone.  High on a buttress near the porch is a brass sundial dated 1826.

Mindless Vandalism

Another example of the mindless perpetrating the unbelievable against the defenseless.

Vandals trashed the South Street centre by breaking furniture, smashing crockery and throwing soil from plants over the floor.

They made holes in the walls, broke windows and pulled things from shelves.

I can never understand the mentality of the people who carry out these destructive attacks on people and property.

When I was a spotty faced youth I lived in the village of Westfield just north of Hastings. Back then we had less to entertain us. There was no daytime TV and only two channels in the evenings. We didn’t have computer games in fact the only “electric” games available were our train sets. If we were bored we went down the rec, played football, dug up some worms and went fishing or just went exploring either on our bikes or on foot.

I recall groups of us going out and about when I was a teenager, hanging around on street corners in Battle. At no time did we ever consider going and trashing someones home or the local community centre or any other establishment. I do distinctly remember being challenged by the owner of the local dry cleaners, standing in front of a group of us with a large golfing umbrella, asking

Are you contemplating mayhem about my premises ?

I remember there was a friendly exchange of views but it was all light-hearted. Can you imagine the reaction of some members of our modern-day youth to any form of confrontation, let alone from someone using that sort of language. Yes we might have gotten up to some mischief. OK, I admit it, we did. We might have put out a window or two in a derelict industrial building but we never attacked people’s homes or places of work.

Now that I am much older and, hopefully, wiser I still can’t understand their actions.

Apparently police have arrested three teenagers, a 13-year-old boy and two 15-year-old boys who are being questioned on suspicion of criminal damage and theft.

If these lads are found to be the perpetrators then they should be made to help repair the damage. Fines or detention is not the answer.

They should be made to stand in front of the people who make use of this centre and explain why they chose to break in and trash the place.

Finally they should be made to spend a significant amount of their free time at the centre. Working there so they get a feel for what this place is doing for their community and what their actions mean to the folks that use the centre.

Anyone with information about the break-in should call Gosport police station on 101.

You can also give information anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Yobs trash safe haven for Gosport people with cancer – Local – Portsmouth News.

South Parade Pier At Risk

South Parade Pier’s owners face liquidation over unpaid energy bills. The danger is if the owners of the pier have to close it down due to lack of income then the real rot will set in. All the while the pier is in active use there is a chance for it to be maintained and refurbished. As soon as the usage declines then so does the state of repair.

Everyone knows that these structures are expensive to maintain due to the harsh, salty and damp environment that they are in. There must be an argument for Portsmouth City Council or even Hampshire County Council stepping in and providing some degree of subsidy to ensure that South Parade Pier doesn’t go the way of Hastings and Brighton piers.

Seaside piers are part of our heritage. Many have succumbed to extreme weather, arsonists and old age. We almost lost South Parade Pier a few years ago, no thanks to Ken Russel and his crew who were filming Tommy at the time. We don’t want that to happen again.

Its time for local government or even national government to step in.

South Parade Pier’s owners face liquidation over unpaid energy bills – Local Business – Portsmouth News.

Southsea Pier Safety – The Unbalanced View

How can you ban the general public from the pier on safety grounds but then still allow anglers access

Surely it is either safe or unsafe.

Or does the couple of quid charged to the anglers really make everything all right ?

Its time that some form of national funding was put in place to ensure the survival of the many piers around our coastline. They are part of our heritage. I would hate to see Southsea Pier go the same way that other piers, such as those of Brighton and Hastings Piers.

Southsea Pier has so far withstood the ravages of time and also Ken Russell’s attempt during the filming of the movie version of The Who’s Tommy.

Outcry as public barred from pier over safety fears – Local – Portsmouth News.

Hastings / Bodiam

Saturday Afternoon

A weekend in Hastings to celebrate my sister’s birthday was never going to be quiet but we had a cracking time.

Saturday was not  very nice weather wise, grey and cool. It didn’t matter much since we spent some time wandering down George Street browsing the shop windows  until we met up with my sisters friends. Then we whiled away some time loafing in  Ye Olde Pump House, a pub which looks much older than it really is.

 That’s if the old gent who harangued us outside can be believed. Anyway, it’s old enough and was very popular even when I used to visit back in the late 60’s. Had a couple of pints of Early Bird, a really tasty brew from Shepherd Neame.

A pale golden beer, with floral aroma, Early Bird is full-bodied and takes its name from the Early Bird variety of East Kent Goldings hops, grown in hop gardens near the brewery.

It gets my vote and certainly seemed to live up to the brewers description which I have quoted above.

Due to much gassing with my sisters friends, time passed rapidly by and we ended up spending more time in the pub than we had intended. This is what happens when you are having a good time. We were supposed to be having a meal before going on to a show. In the end we had to by-pass the meal and  sprint to make the show.

We were going to see Chas Hodges, you can read my post on that HERE

Sunday – Wow ! What a day out !!!

For Sunday we had chosen to get together with my other sister and had arranged to meet up at Bodiam Castle. The weather was fabulous, blue cloud free skies and beautiful spring sunshine.

Bodiam Castle is in a wonderful setting, sat as it is on an island reached only by the bridge across the moat.

We meandered around the perimeter of the moat enjoying the warmth of the sun and the attentions of the many ducks. Sis decided that she would become the Birdwoman of Bodiam and broke out the butties. She was immediately surrounded.

Once they knew that she was a buttie free zone they abandoned her. Cupboard love I believe it is called.

We continued to tour the castle surrounds before heading inside. Here are a few facts that I have dredged up. Bodiam is a 14th Century construction. It was built in 1385 by Sir Edward Dalyngrigge who apparently was one of Edward IIIs knights. It was intended to defend the area against those nefarious French during the Hundred Years War.

Those pesky ducks get every where, especially when they think there is food to be had. You only have to dangle your arm over the bridge railing and a collective shout of “incoming” goes up.

Of course, what goes up must eventually come down…..

Once we were across the bridge we were met by a most unusual couple. We were accused of using the devils machinery and of stealing their spirits but they were quite friendly really and welcomed us into the castle courtyard

While we were there the locals were telling of the castles history hence the unusual attire. This fellow was the main orator.

Bodiam is a “pretty” castle now and it doesn’t take much imagination to see what it would have been like when it was first built.

It is possible to get many different perspectives of the castle.

After much strolling and climbing we found ourselves to be a bit peckish. So we took ourselves across the road to the nearby pub. Strangely enough it is called the Castle Inn

We were surprised to find that there were outside tables available and sat ourselves down for a spot of lunch. Considering this was 1st April, to be sitting outside to eat was a rare treat. The food was good and we didn’t have to wait too long and it was hot when it arrived. By a happy coincidence this pub was also serving Early Bird which was a suitable lubricant for the meal.

While we were having lunch we were treated to the spectacle of a helicopter coming into land on the pub lawns.

After lunch we walked up to the railway station. All day we had been seeing the smoke and hearing the whistles of the steam trains.

When we arrived at the station we determined that the next train would be arriving within a few minutes and duly positioned ourselves across the road and the level crossing ready for the steamer we knew was coming. Imagine the big disappointment when we were presented with this…..

Yup. A diesel loco. OK it is a piece of vintage rolling stock but it wasn’t what we wanted. Never mind, as they say, there is always next time. After taking a look at some of the old goods wagons at the station we headed back to our cars.

Drove back to my sister’s house for a cup of tea and some superb lemon drizzle cake. All taken while sitting outside in the sunshine. I still have to remind myself that this was the first day of April.

A fitting close to a fantastic day. All that was left was for us to drive the 90 or so miles home. I didn’t need any rocking when I hit my pit.

Did Chas Hodges Pull A Rabbit Out Of His Hat ?

On Saturday evening my wife and I, along with my sister, visited the White Rock Theatre in Hastings.  The entertainment for the evening was to be Chas Hodges, he of Chas & Dave fame.

The theatre was nowhere near full. The potential capacity is 1066 people but there were probably only around 60 folks putting bums on seats.

At around 19:30 our bizarre evening began.

If anyone made an announcement I missed it but a bunch of guys walked out onto the stage and took up positions. The band started playing but I had no idea who we were watching. All I could tell was that they were apparently doing cover versions of Lonnie Donegans songs. After a couple of numbers, the lead singer started regaling us with anecdotes liberally sprinkled with “my dad did …” and “when my father…” and so on. Suddenly the penny dropped, we were being entertained by Son of Donegan.

Well of course he did all the standards and we had a sing along and tapped our feet but, even back in the day, Lonnie Donegans voice was a bit of a trial. I wouldn’t, by choice, listen to one Donegan record followed by another. Peter Donegans voice is very similar to his dads. I liked the instrumental breaks best of all as they are all very competent musicians.

Apart from the vocals the other big detractor for me during there performance was the two dickheads in the row behind ours. They paid good money to see a show,  then proceeded to talk all the time. Strange thing was that they shut up when the music stopped. Anyway, I couldn’t put up with their incessant chatting (note I avoided using the term” rabitting”) and asked them if they were planning to carry on through the whole show. After being asked twice, one of them said that yes he probably would. After a long glare from me they quietened down a little but they never did totally shut up.

So Son of Donegan finished their set and the lights came up. The chatterbox and his friends went out, presumably for some lubricant because his throat was dry. We all had an ice cream.

As I said earlier there were only about 60 people in the theatre. We were 8 rows back from the stage and there were only 17 people in front of us so we decided to move away from the noise. We moved two rows forward. Apparently the people to our right had also gotten fed up with the talking and they had moved to the right.

It transpired that we didn’t need to move as the chatterboxes never returned.

And so, on to Chas.

Well he and his band came on and it was just like Chas & Dave. He did their whole repertoire along with some tracks from his new CD. My view is that he can’t sing for a toffee. It was like being in a pub listening to a bar room singer. Just like with Son of Donegan the best bits were the instrumental breaks. Even some of them left a lot to be desired. One piano break prompted me to mutter to my wife “Come back Les Dawson, all is forgiven”. Where the Donegan anecdotes were all surrounding “my dad”, the Hodges anecdotes were liberally sprinkled with “when I was playing with Jerry Lee Lewis”. Where Donegan was quite eloquent Hodges was not, tending to mumble and stumble through his stories.

Maybe I’m being hypercritical and, just maybe, he would have been better had there been a bigger audience for him to feed on. I was entertained and it really was better than spending an evening watching TV.

But only just. The highlight for me was that I was out with my wife and my sister.

So in answer to the title question…..No !!!

Pump Madness

This is ridiculous.

I have a trip planned for the weekend, going to visit my sister up in Hastings. That’s a round trip of 180 miles. With some additional miles around the Hastings area I would expect that to go up to perhaps 220 miles. According the electronic brain in my car I have around 300 miles worth of fuel. So I should be able to get there and back no problem.

However, I don’t like to take the tank down to the dregs so I would normally top up the tank before I set out. If I head into a garage on my way out on Saturday I’ll get lumped in with the mindless lemmings that are jamming up the garage forecourts.

These idiots are the same folks who clear the supermarket shelves of bread and milk whenever there is a hint of snow down here in the south of England. One of the comments to the attached article suggests that with all these folks sucking up all the fuel, the delivery trucks will run dry. As a result there will be no food in the stores.

I’m heading down to ASDA, use some of my precious fuel, so I can stock up before the shelves are empty.

LIVE: Pump Watch web chat – Local Business – The News.

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