Giants


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.

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.

Egg mystery is a web cracker


When I was about seven, my dad was the village bobby in Westfield, East Sussex. The police station was a small flat-roofed extension on the side of the house in which we made our home. What made this house interesting was the garden which was well over 100 feet long. A huge space which my dad pretty much turned into a small holding. Along with the huge amount of fruit and veg my parents kept chickens and geese. I can remember seeing eggs of all colours, shapes and sizes. Only the goose eggs were as large as the egg which is the subject of the linked story. We never ever had an egg within an egg.

I can only say that, finding an egg within an egg which in total weighed nearly half a pound, this is EGGSTRAORDINARY.

Egg mystery is a web cracker – Odd Spot – Portsmouth News.

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.