Gloria’s Memories- After the war- Part 2

December 6, 2022

It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like after six years of war, as a child, to suddenly be able to go investigate, play, with war time restrictions lifted, but probably, most of all, finally seeing more of her dad. Here are some of Gloria’s recollections of that special time, recounted as through a child’s minds eye, and a wee glimpse back to how Shoreham once was.

Dad coming home:-

(G) It was a long time, and I couldn’t understand, cos my mother never really explained to me, she just said, she…

(A.R) But, the day he came back?

(G) Well it was a normal day, y’ know

(A.R) Yeah, but you didn’t know he was coming back?

(G) No, so everything was normal up until there was this knock on the door, we didn’t have any bells or anything like that. There was this knock knock, on the front door, and like, the only thing I thought strange, my mum said to me, “Oh, will you go and answer the door”, and I kind of, I remembered, I was walking to the front door, I was looking round, and she was in the kitchen, I could see her, I was thinking, ‘she’s letting me open the front door’, you know, and then of course I turned round, and opened it, and there was dad (laughs)

(A.R) Did he pick you up?

(G) Oh yes! Dumped his kit bag

(A.R) Brilliant

(G) But he just had to go back, I think that…

(A.R) So, they must have arranged that?

(G) Oh yeah, she knew. I remember seeing him off on the train at Shoreham station, to go back, cos he still…. When he came back that day, that was, erm, that he would be coming home more often. They explained all that.

With the war over, Gloria and her friend/accomplice, Michael Head, at the grand old age of 7/8, were among the first of their friends to cross the Footbridge over the River Adur, which had been closed to civilians during the war. This was strictly against her mother’s wishes, which Gloria said with a grin. Her dad was demobbed not long after, and with the war finished, she got to visit Mrs Samuelson at her wool shop in Shoreham High St, a lady who turned out to be a source of fascination and great fun to be around for young Gloria.

Returning to Gloria’s interview:-

Bungalow Town

(A.R)- What sort of memories really stand out for you, your early memories of Bungalow Town, was there anything that when you got across there, really stood out?

(G)- Well it was unknown territory to me, because it was, as I, y’ know, knew, as a young, little, seven or eight I must’ve been, because the war had finished, and my dad had just been demobbed, and that’s when I got a bit more freedom, erm, so, I was, y’ know, missing for longer, allowed.

Stone bridge, (Footbridge), as you came off there were no buildings, there was just bushes, and erm, small trees. I’d say more bushes and brambles, that’s all that really would grow on pebbles.

(A.R)- so this Doreen Collins, did she go across the bridge with you?

(G)- Nah, she wasn’t up for it, it would be the boys

(A.R)- Do you remember any of the boys names?

 (G)- Yeah, erm, give me a mo, he, (his dad), had the last house in Erringham rd, and it was, then he had a plot of land, and sheds, not, you know, erm, Head!, Michael Head, that’s the boys name, and of course, I played with him, and then we used to, because we were always running, if we ran across the road, we were on the Downs, but where the road was, which was called ‘The Street’, my mothers house was the last house in Erringham Road that went up off the main road, and then Mill Hill was bang opposite our house, because twice, Farmer Frampton’s cows (laughs) had a little tantrum twice, and came tearing down the hill, Mill Hill, straight into my mums garden, (laughs), the whole of the herd.

So it will be Michael Head, and the other two were from school, and I can’t, it was only because, that’s after all the guns had been taken away.

(A.R)- ‘After the war, what was it (Shoreham Beach) like?’

(G)- It was all mines and we weren’t allowed, also, there was, eh, two girls attacked the other side of the Beach, so my mother didn’t want me going across, cos, remember it’s a stone bridge, wasn’t it. Once you walked on to it, nobody could see you, not if you were (short). We used to run, or try and have our bikes with us, you know, as girls, you know, for protection, cos, on the sea side of the bridge, going over, it was sort of a field, well it was bushes and trees, so y’ know, as I say, two girls had been attacked, twice, so I didn’t really go over the beach when I was a child, as I say, it was a no no, so, parents really. When we went in to the town, which is definitely not so high, the buildings, the High Street going along, there’s only single level mainly, and shops here and there, nothing like it is today. You could see right over, there wasn’t anything built between the High Street .

Erringham rd bomb crater-

(G)- So they weren’t allowed to drop bombs along here, but the odd one that we did have, and I lived at the bottom of Mill Hill, in Erringham Road. Luckily we were at my Grandparents, and a bomb dropped there, but it was a German going back, and he hadn’t released all his bombs away before he got back, at the bottom of Mill Hill, exactly right at the bottom on the corner, cos there’s a little joke about that, it filled up naturally while I was living opposite. It filled up, it was a dirty big pond with bushes and trees of course. There was nothing built in front of my mum’s house at all, it was just the Downs and farm land and fields. Our address was (25) Erringham Road, and Mill Hill went up off it, but with that bomb, it all filled in naturally. A builder came along to buy a bungalow, he built the bungalow, and he lived in it, and then he had trouble, and it was actually my father that was talking to him, and he said, “well you’re gonna have trouble, what have you done underneath?” He said, “well there’s a bloody big bomb under where you’ve built”

(A.R):-unexploded bomb?

(G)- Well, they didn’t know, that was the trouble, and erm, the bungalow was sinking. So they had to take it all down, brand new bungalow, and start again.

 (A.R):- so they built over where a bomb had been dropped?

 (G)- Yeah, yeah…

(A.R):- I take it the bomb was taken away?

(G)- It, well yes, you weren’t allowed even to look out the windows when the army came up to do all that,  y’ know, but erm, it was, I mean, how that builder hadn’t known about it, my father was worried with afterwards. The builder, (Gloria laughs), I always remember my dad saying to him, “well I wasn’t gonna tell you, you’re spoiling my view”.

The Samuelson’s (To be continued in a separate blog)

When I began talking to Gloria, getting her memories recorded, I had no idea about a film connection, other than her having lived at Cinderella Bungalow, one of the Pantomime Row bungalows built by actor/producer, Will Evans, during the Bungalow Town days before the First World War. After our first session of chatting about her memories, I decided to try and find out a bit more about Marjorie Samuelson, who was the owner of a wool shop in Shoreham High Street from 1938 at least. This wool shop was where the Indian Cottage is now, at 72/74 High St.

Mrs Samuelson was born Marjorie Elise Emma Vint, on the 27th Feb 1901, in Hanover Square, London. Her parents were, Alfred Edward Vint, 1864-1920, and Emma Sarah Slater, 1865-1948. Emma is listed as a ‘Theatrical Artist’ on the 1911 census, and it would appear that theatrical blood ran through Marjorie’s veins, like her sisters, Mabel, and Grace, who had also appeared on stage. Around 1917, George Berthold Samuelson, aka-Bertie, an early pioneer of silent movie film productions, saw 16 year old Marjorie when she was working as a waitress at the Criterion Restaurant in Piccadilly, run by the famous restaurateur, Luigi Naintre, and Bertie encouraged Marjorie to have a screen test as he believed she could be a film star, which she later did, acting under the name Marjorie Statler. George and Marjorie married in Manhattan, New York, in 1924.

Marjorie Statler (Samuelson) acting in She, a G.B. Samuelson production, from the London Illustrated News, June 6th 1925.

Marjorie Samuelson and her wool shop

(G)- It was a little shop in the High st, and it’s olde worlde coffee shop, what we called, the High st, it’s the Indian restaurant now. There were two shops, one was a coffee shop, the coffee shop was on the corner, then the next one in, one against the other, then there were two more shops now, but it was one, this is when I was about twelve (1950), and there was this long shop, Samuelson’s it was called, Mrs Samuelson owned it.

Worthing Gazette advert, Weds, 19th Oct, 1938

She was lovely, she had a poodle, and he couldn’t walk, his front legs were all right, people used to shout at her in the street, saying it was cruel. She made a scooter she used to push him in. Mrs Samuelson, she had that shop, and she and I, and I loved her dog. I used to, I was the only one allowed to walk it. But she had the shop, and it was very, um, to me, that is, I am 11/12 years old, then, an olde worlde shop, it was all dark and drapes and velvet. Went upstairs, I was the only one who ever went up there apparently, I was allowed. I used to go up there frequently before she closed for the last time. She erm, we used to go up and have little chats, you know, about her sons, and things. I couldn’t stop looking around, it was magical to me, and it was all old, you know, I can’t explain. It was like, I think, even before my Grandparents, it was all old stuff, but she was lovely.

Cos she was so good at telling you things, Mrs Samuelson, you believed you were there really, you know, she was all, really into it, and it was, I mean, it was her that told me about Pantomime Row, and also how they brought the railway carriages over, because, when they started the film industry, all the, erm, big film stars, all lived in London, so they had to come down early morning, and stay, you know, until they finished filming, get back on the old slow trains, you know, steam trains, back up to London, and then do that every day. And that’s why he built Pantomime Row.

(A.R) The picture that I get, from everything you’ve said, (note- there’s more to come later), is that, other than the shop, when you went upstairs, it’s almost like it’s, like your version of, ‘The Secret Garden’, or, y’ know, going through the gate, or going into the wardrobe in, ‘The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe’,

(G) Yes, exactly…

Inside the wool shop

A.R looks at notes and begins:-

(A.R)- Mrs Samuelson, you used to go along after school and at weekends?

(G)- Only me though, not my friends.

(A.R)- And you used to help out at weekends, and do things like counting buttons, reels of cotton? And you were telling me about the little drawers…

(G)- Well I was fascinated by them because they were so tiny, it looked like a chest, y’ know, and you expected either two drawers..

(A.R)- Was it one of those things with loads of little drawers?

(G)- Yeah, yes, because it was full of, just, different buttons, packets of needles, erm, there was reels of cotton. It was all, she used to complain I remember, cos she couldn’t get the stock, she was always, cos of the war.

(A.R)- Cos there was still rations?

(G)- Yeah, but, y’know, like, pearly buttons fascinated me, y’ know. I used to put, make them into little flowers on the counter (laughs).

The Samuelson’s

Marjorie Samuelson was married to George Berthold Samuelson, producer of over 100 silent movies, known as ‘Bertie’. Living at Western Close, Lancing, from 1933, they had four sons, the eldest two, David, and Sydney, both joined up in the RAF towards the latter part of the war. Before that, wanting to work in the film industry at some level, (given their father had been a pioneer of the British film industry during the early 1900’s), they had worked at local cinemas, having left the Irene Avenue Council School, Lancing, by 15. Sydney’s first job was as projectionist’s assistant at the newly built Luxor cinema in Lancing, which opened its doors for the first time on Wednesday 17th January 1940.

Marjorie and Bertie Samuelson outside the wool shop at 72-74 High St, Shoreham

The Sons, (Sydney and David)

(G)- They were fighting, you know, the war, back when the war finished, and both lived with her, and then, as I say, they were both in filming, whatever, you know, before they went to fight, so they went back to that profession.

I was a bit naughty, you know, for my,.. if my mum, my mother had found out, I was, y’ know, she wouldn’t have liked it, no no no. Only because of her, (Mrs Samuelson), sons, being, everybody knew they were the film producers, naturally, the name, you know, all er, do what you like (laughs). They didn’t, they weren’t proper people, according to my parents, you don’t associate with. I thought they were great. I really loved her.

(A.R):- what sort of stuff did she have in the shop?

(G)-  It was haberdashery stuff, we would call it today, buttons, anything to do with sewing and materials and everything. But then, even, I don’t know if that was like, through her sons. You could go in there and say, (whispers), “you got any, beans?”, or, the odd thing you couldn’t get, and surprisingly she had some, but that was through her sons, cos they were backwards and forwards to London, you know, although there was more, at that actual time, film making, there was more here than in London, Elstree, well it wasn’t Elstree then, but that sort of thing, you know, that kind of came just after the two boys had started. I don’t know if they had a name for it, at the time I wouldn’t be interested, I just knew they were making, (films).

She was very well known through the town, I think, a lot through the dog.

First time Gloria saw Mrs  Samuelson with her dog in Shoreham High St

(A.R)- So, you and your mum were waiting for a bus, and?

(G)- And across the road was this, I would have said, because of my age, an old lady, but she really wasn’t, y’know, she’d have been…

(A.R)- She’d have been older than your mum

(G)- Would she, yeah, 40’s or 50’s. Walking along, I thought at first, well I thought, she’s got a dog in a pram, and then I thought, no she’s not, the dog’s not in a pram, it’s only half, and I was going- “mum, mum, why is the dog only half in the pram?”, y’know, cos she was holding the dogs pram, but it wasn’t, it was just straight round like that, and there was, what are they called?

(A.R)- Handles?

(G)- Yeah, but made of steel. But the whole handle was a frame, and there was ledges

Gloria trying to describe the dog cart:-

(G)- I’m Mrs Samuelson, and in front of me I can put two handles on this, oval bar, and they go down.

(A.R)- And it’s backside sat on that?

(G)- erm, yes. So he’s pedalling along…

(A.R)- His front legs are walking, and his backside sat on this,…. so it’s got two kind of ‘D’ handles? …

(G)- And a platform

(A.R)- And that’s got wheels under it?

(G)- Yeah, the dog’s on it. It looked like one of those skateboards, like half a skateboard

Cartoon of G.B. Samuelson in the Bioscope, Thursday 23rd November 1911

Gloria Wall’s Memories of WW2

November 26, 2022

Gloria Part 1

Gloria Wall’s War Memories

Transcribed from voice recordings at Gloria’s house between 12th -26th Oct 2022

Authors notes:-

Back in 2015, I helped Gloria trace the owner of a silver bracelet she found in the back garden of her bungalow, Cinderella, one of the original Pantomime Row bungalows built by the actor/producer Will Evans, in Old Fort Road, Bungalow Town, before WW1. Also having helped with the Wall family tree, I picked up a few stories she mentioned about her childhood in Shoreham, making a mental note to return to the subject. Here is the beginning of getting down some of Gloria’s stories for everyone else to enjoy, she’s a remarkable lady, with a mischievous side that goes all the way back to her youth.

Gloria Wall was born in Gravesend, Kent, to Laurie and Gladys Faulkner in 1938. Her family moved to Shoreham around the beginning of WW2, living in at 25 Erringham Road, opposite the bottom of Mill Hill road. One of her earliest memories is that military trucks occasionally ran into their garden wall, having come down Mill Hill road and not turning quick enough at the bottom.

While in Shoreham during the war, Gloria said there were hardly any shops on the south side of the High Street, with anti-aircraft guns all along the quayside of the river there. They were living in ‘Erringham Road’ on the 1939 census, and their place was called ‘Threeways’, close to where ‘The Street’, and ‘Mill Hill Road’ meet, hence the military trucks in the garden! She also recalls Farmer Frampton’s cows wandering into the garden after the wall had been knocked down, which happened more than once.

After the war, Gloria and her friend/accomplice, Michael Head, at the grand old age of 7/8, were among the first of their friends to cross the Footbridge over the River Adur, which had been closed to civilians during the war. This was strictly against her mother’s wishes, which Gloria said with a grin. Below are some of these stories in Gloria’s (G) own words, with my (A.R) occasional comments and questions.

Gloria’s Wartime Memories

At some point a German fighter plane came down nearby on Mill Hill, with Gloria among the many local children running to the landing spot to see what they could. She remembers as if it were yesterday the pilot climbing out of his plane, while a policeman struggled, panting up the hill on his bike to get there to arrest the pilot.

German plane crash on Mill Hill

(G)- And then there was the day we had, the plane came, a German plane, well, we didn’t know what it was. A plane came down at the top of Mill Hill, and we as kids, a separate row of houses, and we all ran up the Mill Hill, past, we overtook the policeman on his bike, running up, they didn’t, they only had bikes, and we got to it first, and it was a German soldier. We ran over to him, he was scrambling out the plane, y’ know, and he could see we was kids, it was fine, but eh, he was only speaking German, and the copper arrived, (laughs), and he had to walk him back, down to the bottom by our house before another army truck arrived to take him away. One of the highlights of our childhood. See that’s the trouble really, it seemed to be like Mill Hill is only there, and then the Downs, and they made the road longer, you know, big long hill, and so it went up round the next kind of hilly bit of the Downs, cos they’re like that aren’t they, so you could get, by road, down in to Bramber, and somewhere in Steyning, but you couldn’t in my day, so, but the plane came down on the first part of the next mound as we used to call it, and it just went into it, I don’t know why, but he didn’t have any bombs thank God, cos he might’ve gone up.

 (A.R:- oh so he was a bomber was he?)

(G)- yeah, oh yeah,

 (A.R:- must’ve been quite a big plane then),

(G)- no it wasn’t, not really, not, no it wasn’t, like, it was more the size of a Spitfire.

(A.R:- maybe it was a Stuka or something like that)

 (G)- I don’t know, we was kids, we was only interested in him. I mean, the boys were scrambling over the plane, until the copper arrived, but erm, no it wasn’t er, it’s only a one, y’ know, he scrambled out. I can see that as clear as day, which is strange, him scrambling out, the suit.

I can see him now, you know, with the leather hat on, scrambling down over the things. We were glad he was all right, y’ know, cos we didn’t know what we would find. But the front of the plane, it was no more, it was all in bits everywhere. I remember the tail of the plane, why I don’t know, cos that seemed to be up high, and him scrambling out with his leather thing on, whatever it was, then he was putting his hands up, like this, but that was when the copper, panting on his bike arrived. But, I mean, Shoreham was so different then.

War with dad

During the war they moved about a lot as her father was an air mechanic, and she recalls as kids, when her dad was stationed at an airbase in Cirencester, sitting next to a road known for military transport going past in the hope of Americans passing and giving them sweets.

(G)- We travelled a lot with my father during the war, you know, Cirencester, Gloucester (where he was stationed). Shall I tell you a funny story about, Cirencester, I mean, this isn’t Shoreham. While we, he was on the camp, American camp, and it was in Cirencester, and it was a big American airfield, but, my father had, he worked on planes, you know, mechanic, and er, we had a little bungalow, right on the edge of the wire, and it was tall wire fencing all around this airfield, and our bungalow, ours, next to last, next to it. So there used to be five of us, two girls, two boys, but don’t ask me names.  And we used to sit on the little wall, cos it was a low wall outside me mums front, the bungalow, and so that we, it was every Thursday, we’d wait, sometimes for hours, but we knew it would come, an American jeep,

(A.R)- chocolates?,

(G)- yeah, and sweets, (laughs), I tell you, got down to one, we’d only got one on the Friday afternoon, and one piece, of chewing gum, and we shared it. We were allowed two chews each, (laughs), ah, my mother would’ve had a heart attack. Oh, they had plenty, bars of chocolate, packets of sweets, chewing gum of course. They were our saviours, cos we had to have coupons didn’t we, for sweets, and food.

Grandparents (Cliffe, Kent)

Like so many families around the country during the war, they would try to take their children somewhere they thought would be safer, either temporarily or permanently. In the case of Gloria, her mother decided her parents place in Cliffe, Kent would be such a place on some occasions. Following on from her chewing gum recollection:-


(G)- And that’s why my Grandmother went in to farming, more vegetables, y’ know, than animal, we had the, had cows, but it was a vegetable farm. We used to have big stew pots, she even had one out in, out of the back scullery door, and one in the kit…, old farmhouse kitchen, cos she had ten kids, plus, had to take the two, or didn’t have to but they did, they let them live in, the two P.O.W’s lived, so it was, and of course there was the boyfriends and girlfriends, cos they knew what my Gran was like. And she used to have these two pots going all day, everyday, y’ know, one of those, she had those, that, what are they called, with the fire in it,

(AR) – the range?),

(G)- well, wasn’t called a range in those days (laughing), but she used to, of an evening, fed everybody, she’d stand in front of it, pull her dress up at the back, to warm her bum, and she always had peach or pink bloomers on, (laughs), that come down just above, just below the knee, and that’s there in my mind, (laughs), to this day. I don’t know how she did it, I really don’t, she was a marvel.

(G)- I spent a lot of time with my Grandparents, in Kent, right next to where the Ger…, I only saw any bombing, like war, when I went to my Grandmothers, because it’s a little village called Cliffe, which is up the estuary of the Thames, and of course the big oil refineries are there, and that’s what the Germans were trying to bomb, and it was only five miles from where we were. I never understood that. We used to have to run down the back garden, and through the fence, where my dad had a kind of dugout, so we had to go down to the dugout as soon as the sirens went off. I remember it was kind of L shaped, and two of my, cos my Grandma had ten kids, so you can imagine the house is full anyway, and mum took me there, to stay, during the war. We had to go, and I had three uncles, and they used to tell us, say to, my mums daughter was three, no, my mums sister, was three years older than me, so you can imagine, there was us two, and the boys of the family used to tell us there was a bogey man round the corner of the dugout, and we wouldn’t go round there. All because it was the nicest bit and they could lay on the bunks. Grandad had got bunk beds down there. Stuck in my mind cos they conned us.

But they were quite strict, they were quite strict in those days cos you wanted your kids near you, cos you never know when the next siren was going off. But I never did understand why she took us over to Grans. And I’ve got a painting, that a Germ.., erm, a German, my Grandad was in the little village of Cliffe, I’m going off course here, but she had two German P.O.W’s, they let them live with her, they were working on his farm, by the Government, but they didn’t have to stay in the huts, they were in the house, and he painted a picture of me, and I’ve still got that. But that’s going off course.

Painting of a young Gloria, by a German prisoner of war that worked for her Grandparents on the land at Cliffe, Kent.

War Ends- First time at the playground

(G)- No, I was not a quiet little thing when I was growing up, real tomboy. I only had one brother, little brother, my mothers little darling, could do nothing wrong. Things he used to get away with, what he’d done, and she’d just (shrugs), but all families have that.

(After the war ended)- Well, we went along to Buckingham Park, (laughs), well I left me brother as a baby in a pram, and got all the way back, walking up Erringham Road, (laughs), left me brother behind, (still laughing), in his pram, as a baby. Oh I’ve never run so fast in all me life, all the way back, (more laughing),

(A.R)- I bet he was blissfully unaware.

(G)- Oh he was, he was snoozing when I got there. You know, I don’t know how nobody, I don’t know, there were plenty of kids up there, cos it was all new to us, you know, being able to go freely to the park, on the swings, and the seesaw, you know, they were, (laughs), the crème de la crème.

Reasons 2B Cheerful, Part 3

August 29, 2022
Shoreham Harbour, about 08.30, Saturday 20th August.


A few weeks after the, ‘swimming with the fishes’ experience, (previous blog), I decided to have a go at casting down at the beach. My mate Stv had lent me his rod and tackle while he’s away in Cornwall, he’d taken me through the basics before he left. At this point I can hear seasoned anglers shouting, “what!”, but the reality is I was never into fishing, my last time being back in the 1970’s, on the Thruppeny Bit timber pier at Kingston Bay when I was about 12, with my mate, John West. I caught an eel, which proceeded to make a birds nest of my line. That, coupled with my singular lack of patience, brought my angling career to an end before it even got going, that very day.

I’d managed some reasonable casts under Stv’s watchful eye, but obviously hadn’t been paying close enough attention when he rigged the rod up. So there I was on an overcast morning, with moody, steely blue/grey clouds over the calm sea, with distant rumbles of thunder, and nearly full tide, casting out, only to see the line keep going, I clearly hadn’t rigged the line on the reel right. Luckily, as I was pondering the unfolding fiasco, not to mention panicking about losing Stv’s gear, Paul Hudson just happened to be coming down the beach with his dog, Billy, a wee spaniel, and he held the rod while I retrieved what I could of Stv’s tackle. I saved the weight, hooks, and feathers, but had to kiss goodbye to a fair few yards of line snagged in the seaweed by the rocks.

By the time I’d fought with the seaweed and won the tackle back, Paul had sussed what was wrong, and had the line rigged proper, but I was all of a sweat and a dither by then, so opted to leave the rod as it was, at least ready for another day. I went home, stowed the fishing gear, and headed back for a refreshing dip.

Shoreham Beach at a spring low tide.

The following day, while down at the Pollinator for my morning fix of coffee, I got a text from Paul, telling me the mackerel were around, I text back that I’d be along soon. As soon as I got back, about 09.30, I grabbed the rod and tackle and legged it down to the beach, not many others around, just a few sunbathers, so I put my bucket down, cast the rod out into the almost high tide, and began winding. I should explain, there was a fairly hefty belt of seaweed close to the shore, so as I reeled in, the line getting heavier, I naturally presumed I had snagged a load of kelp, the sort that looks like Chinese noodles. Imagine my surprise when I spot, not one, or two, but four chuffin’ mackerel hooked up! I held them in the air for a bit, hardly believing this had happened, then a couple of ladies came over with their dog, a lovely fluffy golden retriever, who was every bit as keen as its owner to see what was up. They hadn’t seen the like before apparently, I didn’t like to spoil it by telling them I’m a fishing novice, but I was having to encourage the retriever away from the fish still with the hooks and tackle on anyway, so they probably left thinking I was some angling guru. As I gently teased the hooks out of their mouths, I found myself apologising to each of the mackerel, holding them firmly on the pebbles, while trying to ease the hook out as painlessly, I thought at least, as possible, whispering, “I’m sorry mate”, each time. Not sure I’m quite cut out to be a hunter gatherer somehow, I even risked losing them by trying to get some seawater in the bucket to make them more comfortable. I can imagine any anglers reading this and shaking their heads in disbelief.

My bucket of 6 mackerel.

I caught another couple, and decided that was enough, I’d been there all of fifteen minutes, and took my catch home for my brother to show me how to gut them, (now in the freezer). As I’d left, anglers were turning up all along the beach by then, the sea alive with cauldrons of mackerel chasing the seething whitebait all the way up the shore and onto the shingle. When I came back for a swim after gutting the fish, at one point, right in front of us, a gentle wave heaved a mass of whitebait up and over a shingle mound, leaving a four foot by two foot bed of thousands of the wee critters stranded, and Andrew, a neighbour who turned up with his rod shortly after me, and had been just as successful as I’d been, scooped up heaps of the wee fish into his bucket for later. They make fine eating when lightly fried apparently.



As usual, my morning dog walks with Freddie culminate in a trip to the Old Fort for a coffee at the Pollinator horse box, and owing to the popularity of my wind up gramophone, I appear to have earned a ‘DJ slot’ between 8 and 9a.m on Monday’s, playing old vinyl 78’s from my dads old collection, and also from a pile I got from Sean Hawkey when I bought the machine from him. I sit the gramophone on the Pollinator ice cream fridge, facing the river so it doesn’t wake the neighbours that might be laying in, pick a record, wind the machine up, and this magical sound springs to life, having lain dormant for donkeys years. I’d expected the novelty to wear off quite quickly, but it seems to be gathering new fans to this 100 year old technology, as well as a lively interest in the old tunes. I love going through the records to choose what to take, some of the names just leap out, like Spike Jones and his City Slickers, (a hit from 1942 according to Google), or Alligator Crawl by Fats Waller (1935). Surprisingly there are quite a few that ring a bell in the old memory box, like ‘Baby it’s Cold Outside’ by Dinah Shore and Buddy Clark, (1949), and ‘Aint Misbehaving’ by Harry Parry and his Radio Sextet (1943). What I hadn’t expected was to see Pa’s name on the top corner of some of the record sleeves, not in his writing either, so I guess he’d ordered them from a record shop and they’d put his name on the sleeve ready to be picked up, a pleasant little reminder of our dearly departed Pop.

It’s a very tactile sensation using a wind up record player, which according to Richard, (a professional musician after all, so should know), is a direct reproduction, kind of like listening to them playing live via one remove. He would certainly explain it better than I possibly could.  I’m going to try and put together a list of all the 78’s I’ve got, and then perhaps people can even make requests in advance. If interest wanes, at least it’s seen some action rather than gathering dust.

I seem to have rambled on a bit here, so I’m sure you’ll be grateful I’m stopping at this point. Once I have some more nonsense to blather on about, I’ll be letting you both know.

Reasons 2 B Cheerful

August 10, 2022


Richard and Louise Durrant at the Pollinator

Reasons 2 B Cheerful

I should probably feel guilty, given the appalling state of affairs for so many struggling families, and the shower of wankers running the show here in the UK, but life is good at the moment, (for me at least). Work lately has all but dried up, so no new income currently, I’m not a fan of oppressive heat, hiding away during the hottest temperatures, and our utility bills seem to be going up faster than a space shuttle, so you might think, ‘what’s he on about with this ‘life is good’ nonsense??’, however, I’m a morning person, and as a dog owner, that’s the best time to be out and about, when it’s cool enough for the little fella to be comfortable. Living on Shoreham Beach makes things even better, with pleasant sea breezes most mornings, and an ever-changing tidal situation so every day is different.

I’ve only recently got back into swimming in the sea, which in itself is criminal. As soon as I got back from that first sea swim in quite a few years, I was mentally kicking myself up the backside for having left it so long, and have tried to maintain a daily swim since then, it’s been absolutely glorious. One of the highlights being a few days ago, when shoals of mackerel were chasing the whitebait up the beach. I’d seen the sea kicking up a little way out as I walked down to the waters edge, with occasional glints of silvery backs reflecting the sun, a definite sign the mackerel were about, but then dived in for a swim and forgot all about them. The first few strokes going out freshen you right up, and then once out a reasonable distance, stop, turn over, and spread out star shaped to catch breath, look up at the sky, and relax, it was calm as a mill pond. Unbeknown to me, shortly after laying up, I’d been surrounded by a shoal, and everyone on the beach was watching with amusement. When I came in later, there were Shoreham Beach locals, Paul and Helen Hudson, and Shaun Pink, scooping up whitebait from the shingle and throwing them back in. Paul called me as I was getting out, “Did you see the mackerel?”, then Shaun said, “They were all around you”. There I was, blissfully unaware, as a large shoal of mackerel kicked up the water all around me. As I walked along the beach after, people I didn’t know were asking me the same question as Paul, while a neighbour from Mardyke, Andrew, had seen the situ, and legged it back to grab a rod, he snagged 3 mackerel in the first 10 minutes of casting. Little things eh, that’s a morning that put a smile on me boat.

Freddie on the beach in the morning

One of my favourite parts of the morning has been a new ritual of getting a coffee along at the Pollinator horse box by the Old Fort car park facing out to Kingston Bay, based in their ‘rewilding garden’. The Durrant family have set up this wonderful little venture as a way to give their family some valuable income post lockdown, it’s created a great community spirit in no time at all, and I must add, they make the best coffee I’ve ever tasted. It’s basically become a canine friendly commune between 8 and 9a.m each morning, (and doubtless throughout the day), where we dog walkers have come to know each other better as a result of actually stopping to enjoy, in my case, a mocha, or iced mocha when it’s hot, and chatting. Occasionally, Richard, a renowned classical guitarist, gets his Bog Oak guitar out, (‘or, Boggy’, as he affectionately refers to it), and we’re entertained by various gorgeous tunes caressing the airwaves as we sup, he even does requests sometimes,  I was chuffed to bits to get him to play the old Jack Hargreaves-Out Of Town theme tune one morning, otherwise known as the Recuerdos de la Alhambra.

Humans after their coffee fix, canines waiting patiently (sometimes) for their treat.

The Pollinator is very much a family affair, with Richard’s wife, Louise, the mainstay of the operation, and their musically multi-talented offspring, Daisy, Django, and Felix, all pulling shifts as baristas variously during the week, while other friends also work behind the jump as barista jockeys, getting in valuable training for when they go to uni and need some work there. (Mustn’t forget the legend that is Bollo, their family pet, a big lovable, boulder collecting, Newfoundland). They have just added an ice cream tricycle to the scene, so we jokingly talked about having to call it, ‘Luigi’s Ice a Cream’, and a Godfather theme, horses heads etc. I mentioned at some point that I own a wind up gramophone, and Richard immediately said bring it down sometime, and we joked about playing the old opera tune, O Sol Mio, which most of us remember better as ‘Just one cornetto’ from the TV advert back in the 1980’s. Come the Monday that we agreed to try out the gramophone, the weather was glorious, and as a result there were quite a few early morning swimmers as well as us canine carers, we had a crowd for this hundred year old technology. It didn’t disappoint. I started off with a few Bill Haley and his Comets 78’s, which got a few of us up and bopping 1950’s style, and after a few of the ilk, I picked out an interesting record called ‘La Danza’, by the Tenor- Jan Peerce, which was clearly operatic, and evidently well received. Earlier, Daisy had asked if I had an ‘ice cream tune’, I had to say I didn’t, until turning this copy of La Danza over, and spot, to everyone’s delight, that the other side was ‘O Sole Mio’, the very song we’d been thinking of.

There is something slightly magical about playing those old vinyl 78’s on that gramophone relic from the past, as if we’d stepped back in time. One of the swimmers remarked that he’d been able to hear it as clear as a bell from out by the pylons that mark the navigable edge of the river, and who knows, maybe all the way across the bay to those Victorian properties by the Lighthouse. Next Monday I’ve been asked to bring it back and we’re going to play some old jazz tunes, as well as a re-run of ‘O Sole Mio’ of course.

Prior to going to the Pollinator, I take Fred up to the Adur Rec as the final part of his morning exercises, and the path between the Rec and the Railway Bridge is currently awash with blackberries, so I’ve been getting part of my 5 a day dose as we go around, and bag up a few for whoever may be at the Pollinator when I get there. Again, walking along the river bank, past the Adur Railway Bridge, with the tidal river at a different state every day, it’s just a great way to start any day, and I’ve already been along the beach, and going next to the Old Fort next to Kingston Bay, with the icing on the cake, a top notch barista coffee, hot or iced, in great company, normally (sometimes I’m the only customer).

Adur Railway Bridge

Altogether, these are very good reasons to be cheerful, as good old Ian Dury and his Blockheads once sang.

Dear Pa

April 16, 2021



Dear Pa,

Your first birthday in my lifetime when you’re not here. You’re all around me every day, but I miss our irreverent chats about anything, your smile across the table, a wink to let me know the food was good, frightening cyclists half to death when you were driving us to walk Fred in the mornings, (I don’t miss that bit), your thunderous sneezes that made Fred jump out of his skin, your idolisation of everything about Fred. I miss our little rituals, tea and toast at 9 after the dog walk, lunch time nibbles with a cuppa, tea and biscuits while watching All Creatures Great and Small, Lovejoy, any vet show in the afternoon. I miss you.

I haven’t been able to write since you left, still heartbroken that you suffered so much towards the end, and probably a fair bit before that, but you kept it to yourself. I thought I was strong until you went, then I knew I’m not, but you always were, right up to the last. Every single person I speak to that knew you, talks of you with a smile on their face, remembering the ever present smile on your face, and that reminds me what you were about. I need to face the world with a smile, the way you did, but in fairness I already did, wonder where I got that from. The smile left me for a while, quite a while actually, but hopefully it’s coming back, a little at a time. I’ve started looking at our recorded conversations, and they make me smile, especially the sound of your voice. I miss you. So much.

I’m not ready to write anything long yet, but hope you won’t mind me cheating, and choosing one of our recorded chats here, I picked out one about some of your flying experiences in the Navy. So even though I miss you so very much, you left me, and everyone else, a priceless set of memories. I tried to tell you how much you’d meant to me near the end, but you, said, “now now, none of that”. Well sod that you old bugger, you meant the world to me, I just hope you can hear me saying/thinking it.

Young Navy Pa

Pa on board either HMS Ranee or HMS Vengeance. Circa 1945/6/7


Pa’s flying experiences

(Pa was stationed in Ceylon for part of his service, but had been trying to get ‘in on the action’ from about the age of 13 while in Guildford. I have a lot of recordings, which I hope to put together eventually, but here is one recording for now, unedited, just transcribed word for word.)


Me:- Right, ok, now, you’ve told me in the past, about, erm, you’ve been up in aeroplanes, and I’m guessing the airstrip at Katakarunda, or Kalutara

Pa:- No in fact, it, erm, it was off the carrier

Me:- Oh blimey, you’ve, you’ve actually taken, been a passenger, taken off from the actual…

Pa:- I’ve got the flight plan, and I can’t remember where it is

Me:- (Butting in again) Well, no, that, that really doesn’t matter, I was ju…

Pa:- It gives you date, what happened, who was there..

Me:- (more butting in) No, I wanted to ask, I don’t want to see bits of information on a piece of paper (doughnut), I want to hear from you what it was like

Pa:- Frightening

Me:- Really? I thought you would have enjoyed it

Pa:- Oh, I did enjoy it. Taking off is a bit, you know, if you’re not used to it, cos you literally go off the bow of the carrier, which is slightly lifted like that, you go up like that, and then she drops down like that, and you see the carrier, if you’ve got a mirror, you can see the carrier, growing behind you because it’s just getting taller as you’re going down, and then the prop picks up, momentum, and she pulls away like that. That’s one thing, coming in, you’re coming in to the stern of the er, of the carrier, and you’re literally, you’re, you’re dropping down below it and you think, God Almighty, you’re never gonna get me over there, and then he gradually comes up, comes up, and then drops down. It’s er, if you’re not used to it, it’s quite worrying.

Me:- Yeah, so, I mean, I don’t imagine they, it’s er, it’s a Navy warship, I don’t imagine it’s, they send people up for no good reason, so how come you were there, in the, in the plane?

Pa:- Well, I was the Squadron Writer, and erm, I had a few perks, and they said to me would I like to go up, and I said yes I would, and they prepared me for it. Oh, the gear I had, I had them, putting it on, doing it up, putting it on, doing it up. I looked like Mr Michelin, mm, but nevertheless it’s erm, it’s quite an experience

Me:- Did you do it just the once?

Pa:- Ooh yeah, only did it the once. I, I’ve been up off the ground

Me:- So, whereabouts off the ground, was that in Kalutara, in Ceylon

Pa:- No, no, no, that was down here, in erm, in the New Forest

Me:- Oh, well, when was that then, was that when you were doing your, er, when you were trying to get to the RAF was it?

Pa:- Do you know I, no it wasn’t, no. It was in fact during that period of my trying to get in to the RAF, but erm, this came, um, South Holmsley?, can’t even remember, it was down in the New Forest, Holmsley South, I’m sure it was that

Me:- Do you remember the plane that it was that you went up in?

Pa:- Oh, it was a stuffy old Anson

Me:- Not, not a very impressive plane then I’m guessing

Pa:- No, no, they’re, they’re like, like. The old Avro Anson was regarded rather like a milk cow, she’s a maid of all works

Me:- Avro’s were set up at Shoreham for a while, for a long while

Pa:- But erm, that I believe was my time in the Air Training Corps, we used to get erm, not called up, but when we, we, put your name down, that you would be on holiday for that period, or you’ll be away from work for this period, and if during that period the occasion arises where they’re giving trainees a ride in an aircraft, then your name comes up, you go in

Me:- Oh right, so that would have been when you were up at Guildford I expect

Pa:- Yes that would have been Guildford, it wouldn’t have been, certainly wasn’t Brighton

Me:- No, because you weren’t in the ATC down at Brighton were you, in fact you weren’t in Brighton throughout the war (wrong again), after you’d moved back to Guildford

Pa:- No that’s true. Yeah, cos I moved back to Guildford

Me:- Well, you went to Egham first didn’t you, stayed with your dad and Dan Dan. But anyway, ok, so, erm. What was the, do you remember what the aeroplane, was it a Fairey, erm, Firefly, when you were on the aircraft carrier

Pa:- Yes, yeah that would have been a Firefly, erm, not much to say about them, a two seater reconnaissance aircraft

Me:- So, where, did he take you, so, that was, so were you nowhere near land when they took you up

Pa:- No not really

Me:- Oh, so you were out in the middle of, what, the Pacific Ocean, or, Indian Ocean

Pa:- It would have been the Indian Ocean probably, yeah

Me:- On your way, to,.. I’m guessing you must have been on the Vengeance then, or no, I suppose it could have been the Ranee

Pa:- No no, it was the Vengeance

Me:- It was the Ven.. yeah

Pa:- The Ranee was just a personnel carrier. The Vengeance was typified as a Light Fleet Carrier, and that’s really what it was

Me:- I just wondered whereabouts you might have been. Do you think you might have been on your way to Ceylon at the time, or coming from it, or..

Pa:- No, I’ve no idea about that. Oh no I don’t think so

Me:- On your way to Port said, or..

Pa:- No I think it was something that was arranged, when I was at Katakarunda probably, because I went up, the Padre went up at the same time

Me:- What, in the same plane?

Pa:- Yeah

Me:- What, there were three of you

Pa:- Well, they’re not tiny aircraft, a two seater could be a three or four seater really, if you want to make it that way

Me:- Oh, so the Padre was with you as well

Pa:- Well I had to have all safety covered

Me:- Ha, a word to the good above while you’re there. I suppose em, did you think to say nearer than God to thee to him while you were up there?

Pa:- Yeah, holding hands. No, it was treated as a training flight, hence the need for me to type up a flight plan, from my office, on my typewriter, under instructions from the C.O of the group

Me:- Oh, ok, so that flight plan, is actually the flight plan of when you were taken up

Pa:- Yeah, that’s right

Me:- Oh well, I’ll have to have a relook at that won’t I. Well, it’s quite something to have, to have  actually taken off from an aircraft (carrier) in the plane, as a passenger, I don’t imagine too many people would have done that

Pa:- Not strictly unusual, but, but, it’s a costly business and they don’t do it too often

Me:- Not a bad experience to get to have. Did you enjoy it?

Pa:- Yeah, yeah. It was quite, you know, once you get over the, sort of, the initial uncertainty, cos you know inwardly, you’re seeing take off and landings all the time, so you’re used to that aspect it. When you do it for the first time, it’s, it’s, it is a funny experience really because you’ve seen it done time after time, but when you come to do it yourself, it’s er, an entirely different kettle of fish. Yeah, and, taking off, I mean, I couldn’t very well say, no, I don’t want to go, haha, so I did, and I did enjoy it, yes. It’s not an experience that you can say is a good experience or a bad experience really. If I’d been doing it regularly, and I’d come up on a, on a, sort of, a freebie, it would have been a pleasant experience, I think, yes it would, but when you go up, a lot’s built up into it, you’re going up with the padre, you’re going up, the two of you are, are, airborne

Me:- Do you remember who the pilot was

Pa:- His name is in that flight plan

Me:- Oh, ok

Pa:- To be honest, no I didn’t. Didn’t take much notice of that, haha. I would have much preferred it if I thought I could fly the plane, is to fly the bloody thing myself

Me:- Ah well, I don’t see them letting you practice, not coming off an aircraft carrier

Pa:- Not with the Padre there

Me:- So that was your one and only time taking off from the actual aircraft (carrier)

Pa:- Yeah, yeah, it was the only time, it was the only chance I had

Me:- And your only time of going up in an aeroplane during your service

Pa:- Oh no, no, I went up off the ground, many times

Me:- Whereabouts

Pa:- Oh, down in the West country, and down in, erm, you know, Holmsley South was, that, that linked up with my Air Training Corps

Me:- You went up many times?

Pa:- Well, probably about half a dozen

Me:- Before you joined up, when you were in the ATC

Pa:- Yes

Me:- And was it always in that Avro Anson, or did you go up in different planes

Pa:-We went up erm, that was the popular plane. The pilots used to find it easier to take a load of youngsters up, and you could put quite a load in to an Anson. It’s like a Dakota, it’s a maid of all work, and you can stuff it with lots of young people, take em up, swing em round and round and round and put them down, and they’ve had a fine time. Other types of aircraft you can only put so many people in, and you’ve got to do it more often, so it’s more costly

Me:- Just to check whether you’re air worthy I suppose, apart from anything else

Pa:- Well, up to a point yes, it was a perk from our point of view, particularly in the Air training Corps days, I mean, everybody used to scramble to try and get down to one of these airfields

Me:- Did you shoot down there on your bike?

Pa:- No, no no, I went down there, erm,

Me:- I thought perhaps you might have been able to take your Velocette down there

Pa:- That would have caused a problem wouldn’t it. I would have had all the air crew chasing round trying to get a ride on my bike

Me:- And doubtless wondering what a youngster like you was doing riding one like that

Pa:- Well, I don’t know, I’d been riding a motor bike for many years then. I mean, I’d been a despatch rider in the Civil Defence, I’d, you know, albeit underage obviously, but, I had my first licence in 1940, can’t remember, was it ’41 or ’42, only about 14 or 15 at the very most, when I had my

Me:- Shame you haven’t got that licence, that would be priceless wouldn’t it

Pa:- Well, I’m not sure I don’t have it, erm, I’ve got a little pack of licences in my desk drawer here. I’ve never checked to see what dates they are

Me:- Well, I’ve been through your, I’ll have to have another look. I don’t, I would have thought something like that would have stood out to me. I shall have to check

Pa:- I wouldn’t know for sure, but erm, I had a licence to drive, ooh, before I went into the Navy. When I came out of the Navy, I couldn’t renew it, it had lapsed, so I had to take a driving test and get another one, which I did, but er. Yeah, I always found that strange, that the licence I had, which I had to hand over when I joined the Navy, erm, yeah, strange, I never thought about it before, because it predates my Navy days, by probably a year or two.

Me:- So, did you have, you had to wait until call up to actually go into the Navy eventually didn’t you

Pa:- Eventually yes

Me:- So that meant you had to wait until you were 18

Pa:- That’s right

Me:- So you finally got into the Navy when you were 18 years old

Pa:- Yeah, three years after I’d been trying to get in. If I’d done it from 17 onwards, backwards rather, I could have got in anytime. In the Navy, you can join the Navy at sixteen.

Me:- You were busy trying to get into the RAF at that point though weren’t you

Pa:- Yes I was, I was ignoring all the obvious possibilities for getting into the service

Pa:- Just so you could get into the RAF

Pa:- Turns out, I would have been far better trying to get taken into the Navy

Me:- Ah well, hindsight’s a wonderful thing

Pa:- Yeah

Me:- But sadly, you only get hindsight after the event

Pa:- It was very sad really, because there were so many things I could have done, I wasn’t able to do because of my age. If I’d gone for the Navy before I’d even thought about the Air Force, I’d have been in, because they take boys in, in the Navy, or they used to

Me:- Yeah, but it’s understandable, given that you spent part of your time living in Hendon Way, right opposite an airfield, erm, there was no history, your cousin was in the RAF, you know, it’s really quite easy to understand why it was that you aimed for the RAF, that probably, you were in the Air Training Corps as well. Everything was aiming towards the RAF, I doubt it was even on your mind to even think of the Navy, until at least you’d exhausted the other possibilities

Pa:- Yeah, it’s only when I was shunted down the steps of the ladder, and finally got to the bottom, and realised it was the Navy or nothing

Me:- That’s, that’s just fete, it can’t be helped

Pa:- Yeah, but I would have done much better to have started off by going straight to the Navy

Me:- Yeah, but the only way that would have happened is if everything else about your life had been different up to that point. There was no way you were going for the Navy given everything that had happened to you, and that you were part of, you don’t join the ATC so you can get in the Navy do you, you join the sea cadets

Pa:- Yes, You know I don’t know if the Sea Cadets had even been formed by then

Me:- Well even if it had it I don’t imagine they’d have one in the middle of, haha, inland, haha, somewhere like Guildford.

Squire’s early memories

March 3, 2021

Squire’s story/memories.

John Stuart Ramus/ Squire/ Pa:- 17-04-1927 to 22-02-2021

Our wonderful Pa.

Pa with his dad, Reg, known as Roy, circa 1928

Since I originally wrote this up, Pa has sadly passed away on the 22nd Feb, 2021. I will continue to add to this story from the many recordings and notes I have, but here is a beginning. I hope you all enjoy it.

Over the years I have asked Pa about his early life, and during some of his spells in waiting rooms, in hospital beds, out and about, or just sitting at home, I’ve had a pen or pencil and pad, and taken notes as he tells me his various many memories. He’s lived through some extraordinary times, and has plenty of interesting stories to relate. This is just a rough outline at the moment, and ideally, I would prefer to get all his stories written down as they were told in the first person. But this is a start at least, just to give a flavour of what might be when I get it all down properly.

On the 14th July 1923, Pa’s dad, Roy, (Reginald Joseph Isaac Ramus), aged 22, married Boof, (Violet Annie Freer Read), aged 20, at Willesden Register Office, with Boof’s brother, Harry Read, and her mother, Esther, registered as witnesses on the marriage certificate. Roy’s dad, Henry, and Boof’s dad, Harry, had both sadly passed away in 1911 and 1914, but left their families very well provided for.  Boof had been a member of a dance troupe and toured Ireland with them.

On the 24th October 1924, Roy and Boof had their first child, Sheila Audrey Ramus.

In 1925 Roy, was registered as living at 126 Glengall road, Willesden.

By 1926 Boof, and Roy were living at Glenshaw Mansions, Priory road, Hampstead.

Born at 138 Wymering Mansions, Willesden, on the 17th April, 1927, Pa, (John Stuart Ramus), was the second child of Roy and Boof, and younger brother Mike came along 23rd Dec 1930, when they were living at 26 Dean Road, Willesden.

One of Pa’s earliest memories was of Boof and Roy, probably when they were living at Dean road, Willesden, coming to say goodnight to him and Sheila before they set off to the Chelsea Arts Ball, leaving She’ and John in the care of the nanny, Helen. “They were dressed up in fancy dress for the occasion, in the fashion of a Georgian couple, very flamboyant”.

Sheila, John, and nanny Helen, circa 1930. Willesden, London

Roy, despite having a cut glass English public schoolboy accent, could mimic a cockney accent like a linguistic chameleon. “He’d take She’ and I with him to Shepherds Market in the early evenings to walk around the market, adopting any dialect with ease as he talked with the stall holders, many of whom he clearly knew”. Pa remarked how he loved the horse chestnuts that were roasted on the braziers, and still loves the smell which transports him back to his childhood.

In 1932/3, living at 91 Hendon Way, opposite the Fairey Airfield. “Ma took me to look over my new school. I saw a lad waiting outside the Head’s office as he was beckoned in for a thwack with a round ebony ruler behind his knees. I remember being impressed at the time at how stoically the boy took his beating. She’ and I went to this school for about a year, boys and girls had separate classes and playgrounds”

“Dad’s business associate, Mr Lakin, another furniture dealer, used to visit quite a lot, we were there a couple of years I think. Dad had a Jowett motor car then”

Sometime around 1934, Roy ran off with the wife next door at number 93 Hendon Way, Beryl Antill, leaving Boof with Sheila, (9), John,(7),  and Mike, (2), to bring up.  Roy married Beryl in 1935, and Boof married the estranged husband, John Antill, both marriages were within a week of each other.

Pa later went to live with Roy, Beryl, and his Grandma, once they had set up home, at Ambleside cottage, in High Road, Feltham, Surrey.

I was living with dad, Girly, (Beryl), and Grandma, Dan Dan (May Ramus), at Ambleside, a cottage next to a stream, opposite the Mini Max Works fire extinguisher manufacturers, in Feltham, Surrey. The stream ran past the bottom of the garden at the back of the property, and dad kept 30 or 40 chickens in a large pen at the bottom of the garden. My favourite was ‘Droopy Wing’, which had a broken wing, and waddled around with one wing trailing, I used to cuddle and talk to it as I stroked it. I’d walk down the garden to the chicken coop, sit there with my comics, Champion, or Hotspur, and Droopy Wing would be first to arrive, I’d start reading, then one by one the other chickens would gather while I read to them all. One day I went to the coop, and got in to the chicken run to talk to Droopy Wing, when the cockerel, a big beast, jumped on my back, fearful the beast might do some damage, Pop came running and swiped it off with a spade”.

The headless chicken:-

Another time at Ambleside, “one of Roy’s ‘girlies’, a nurse, asked if she could have a go at ringing a chicken’s neck. He said she could, but she’d never done it before, and made a hash of it. It was comical, the sight of this chicken running around with its head hanging off with a broken neck, dad had to finish it off”.

Roy bought and sold furniture at this time, and all his business associates called him either Roy or Bob. “He used to take me out with him on business calls, sometimes he’d sit me on his lap and let me steer the car, a Standard, old square box thing with the battery on the running board, there was very little in the way of traffic in those days. On one occasion dad had tried unsuccessfully to sell a customer anything, so decided to nick the welcome mat on the way out. While waiting outside, I’d been sat in the car, watching an old distinctive red Brook Bond Tea van, parked up the hill of this steep road, with its wheels turned in to the curb to stop it rolling. The van came loose, wobbled down the road until it gently rolled in to our car and stopped”.

Also, on his 8th birthday, (1935, at 44 Tudor Drive, Kingston, when Boof was now with John Antill), he got a Cowboy outfit, “I was stood out in the street proudly showing it off, when the coalman calls me on board and took me on his round with his horse and cart, dropping me off later”.

Boof had started seeing John Antill, the husband to Beryl, and they were married in 1935, but Antill turned out to be a wife beater, who John remembers being a nasty bully to all of them.

During one of the beatings Antill was dishing out to Boof, Queenie Richards, (who lived next door with her sister, Ruby, and Ruby’s husband, Harold Ellis), heard the row going on and took matters in to her own hands, climbing out of her first floor window, along the window cill, and in to Boof’s house. Queenie was a fit lady, and soon had Antill be the throat, giving him the option of leaving by the back of the house, never to return, or out of the front door to the waiting crowd that had built up and were keen to dish out some much deserved justice. Suffice to say Antill left out the back way. From that moment on, Queenie and Boof became solid friends, and stayed together from then on, with Queenie becoming Auntie Dickie to the kids.

Sometime around 1935/6, they moved down to Eastern road, Brighton, opposite the Blind Boys school, taking Sheila and Mike with them.

Later, in 1936:-   “I remember at 6 Sudeley Place, in Brighton, after hearing Edward VIII abdicate on the radio, ma was crying on the doorstep, all the girls loved Teddy


Pa, circa 1937/8

Grammar School:-

“About 1938 dad enrolled me at Lewis Grammar school, where I stayed for a year before eventually running away back to Boof at Sudely Place, Brighton. I was Kitted out in the full Salt n Pepper outfit by Boof at Fosters in London Road, Brighton”.

We were quite the part walking down Lewis High Street dressed up in our best dress, with the local kids running along taunting us and sticking their tongues out


“At the ‘Old Grammar School’,Lewis, a real Dickensian establishment, the Headmaster,  Reverend Cecil Lewis, was a tartar. He was a stocky man, with one glass eye, and loud, with a short temper. I remember he walked up to one of the teachers on the quad, and after shouting something, hit him, in front of all of us pupils. The teacher he hit, Mr Davis, I recall as being a decent sort of chap. One day one of the older boys, Read was his name I think, slugged the head. He was a big lad, about to join up, and he wasn’t having any of the old man’s nonsense, so punched him on the nose and then stuck a waste paper basket over his head. He gained the everlasting admiration of the whole school”.

“Another of our teachers, Mr Jones, a Welshman, had an Austin 7 motor car, and used to take us out for weekend drives.”

Sports Day:-

On Sports day, the old man (Roy/dad) had the hump after getting beaten by Dan Dan (Grandma May) at a golf putting game on the Lewis Grammar playing fields, Dan Dan chuckling away in the car afterwards. Dad had a big Ford estate then, with wood frame bodywork”.

The escape:-

“I had decided I wasn’t hanging around any longer, so climbed out of my dorm window late at night, and eventually caught a bus back to Boof and Auntie at 6 Sudely Place, Brighton”. (Had a match box collection which gave to another pupil before leaving)


On the 1939 census:- Roy is living at 9 Strode road, staying with the Oliver family, Sydney, Minnie, Ernest, and Rosa. “I remember dad being part of a company called ‘OlRayCo’ which was a collaboration with the Oliver’s”. Roy is listed as being a ‘Hardware Factor, and fire service, Egham. Fireman’

Boof is living at 6 Sudeley Place in Brighton on this census, with Sheila, Mike, and Auntie Dickie. Pa possibly still at Lewis Grammar as a boarder. He was there about a year before he did his bunk one night and made his way back to Sudely Place.

Back to Surrey. War, and the ATC:-

“Sometime after the outbreak of war, Boof and Auntie decided to move back to Surrey, at Rydes Hill road, Guildford, where I joined the ATC.” (Air Training Corps)

During 1939/40, after volunteers were asked for, I became a motorbike despatch rider in the A.T.C, out of Stoke Park, Guildford, Surrey, (where the Surrey Control Centre was situated), and took to it like a duck to water. In charge of us youthful despatch riders, was, ‘Darkie’, (Oliver Blake), a lovely man, short, ex army, Neller Hall bandsman, an Indian in his fifties, and all round good egg, who lived in Dorking”. (Neller Hall was ‘The’ musical training place in the army). “Oliver, who played beautifully, gave me tips on playing the trumpet. I was allocated a Velocet 348cc motorbike to ride, along with my despatch rider pals on other bikes, taking despatches from one air defence control centre to another in Surrey, the main one of which was Stoke Park in Guildford. The biggest bike, a 500cc Norton Dominator, was allocated to big Norman, the other bikes were a BSA and 2 Ariels”.

Darkie managed 6 of us young dispatch riders at Surrey Control Centre, the control centre for all air raids and everything else”. Some of his ATC dispatch rider pals were:- “Norman Gunn, a big chubby boy, looked funny on a motor bike as he was so big. A well off farm lad from a well to do family. I fired my first shotgun at his farm on the Sussex/Surrey border, which blew me over, much to Norman’s amusement. Then there was Dan Gerald, a compact, healthy young lad, and Ray Jordan, a 15 or 16 year old from Jersey. Everyone called me ‘Tich’, as I was the youngest and smallest, although we were all more or less the same age. We had canvas armbands with writing on until we got our uniforms. Under Surrey Control Centre were:- Reigate, Horley, Dorking, and Leatherhead, which we despatched messages, etc to.”

It was mainly night duty as the rest of the time we were at work or school, at North Mead Boys School, and then Clarks Commercial College, which taught us short hand typing”.


Watching the Dad’s Army film together, as a convoy is escorted by motor cyclists on screen, Pa said, “I used to do that”, so I asked, “did you escort convoys then?”, he said, “yes, but there were 6 of us, I didn’t do it on my own. We escorted troop convoys, or fire engines down to Portsmouth after bombing raids, leap frogging each other at junctions to keep the way clear and then bringing up the rear after the fire engines had passed.”


Interest from the local constabulary:-

The local bobby, PC Burbridge, lived a couple of doors away from us in Ryde’s Hill road, and came round to see Boof and Auntie about me riding a motor bike while under age, the upshot of which was that I had to pay him a visit so he could have ‘a quiet word’ with me. He told me he understood I was doing my bit for the war effort, and it was pretty much left at that. I carried on, often coming back late at night from duty, and parking my KTS Velocette in front of our garage.”

Me and the boys visit dad at the fire station:-

Egham fire station, where dad was stationed with the Egham fire brigade. Me and my ATC dispatch rider buddies turned up on our bikes, when the fire station were having a training session on the tower. We were invited to have a go, and to my horror and embarrassment, I found I had a fear of heights I hadn’t counted on until I was up there. Having watched dad climbing the tower, hitching the ladders up and fixing them as they went, when my turn came, I got up there all right, but was frozen by fear once up the top”.


During this time we were living at Rydes Hill road, Guildford, opposite the Haydens, where Sheila met John Hayden”, (her husband to be). “Auntie Dickie was doing a milk round, in a Morris 8, and I went with her. I started driving then, first just moving the car up the road, then ended up driving it the whole round. The milk round was where the term, ‘Mate’, came to be used between us, and lasted our lifetime.”

During this time, in 1940, Auntie adopted a boy herself, Tim, who went on to grow up as brother to Sheila, John, and Mike. Auntie, while on her milk round in Guildford, had met a young girl walking her baby in a pram, crying, so she enquired what was wrong, and the young girl, Rosemary Springett, 16, told Auntie that she had to give up her new born child, Trevor Springett, and Auntie offered there and then to adopt the child, changing his name to Tim Richards once the adoption had gone through.

Trying to join up:-

In 1941, while at Rydes Hill Road, I tried at age 14 to get in to the R.A.F, as air crew or pilot, sent through by the Air Training Corps. I failed the aptitude to be a pilot, but showed great aptitude to be an air gunner. Put in a replica rear turret of something like a Lancaster, Halifax, with all the gear inside they would have, being watched and contacted by intercom, “Don’t keep your guns on that one, you’ve already killed him”, great fun as a 14 year old, firing at the lit up dots. Having failed to get through, they said I could immediately go in to the airborne troops, because they were desperate for them, this is before they did all the big stuff.”

“I got put on 18 months deferred service, but they discovered my age in the meanwhile, and the game was up. This in turn hampered my chances to join the Navy as a junior, which has a limit of age 16. By the time I was found out, I’d turned 17, so had to wait for call up for the Royal Navy now”.

Basic Training:-

Starting point was at HMS Royal Arthur in Skegness, the old Butlins camp, now used for basic training. (Square bashing etc)

HMS Demetrius, Wetherby, Yorkshire. Royal Naval Shore Training Establishment. Pa 2nd right, middle row, standing

Writer Training:-

Clerical stuff, book keeping etc. HMS Demetrius, at Wetherby, Yorkshire. Pa rowing on the River Wharfe in any spare time he had. Got to know the people running the boat hire outlet.

While on leave from training, the V.E day celebrations. A number of us Navy boys made the trip by train from Pompey to Brighton station, straight in to the Imperial Arms opposite the station, we worked our way down Queens Road in full uniform, picking up mates as we  went, determined to stop at every pub along the way, I took a left at the Clock Tower down in to North Street. No one would let me buy a drink, so by the time I reached St Peters Church, I’d had a few. I had my trumpet in a bag over my shoulder, and some people asked what was in the bag, when I told them, they demanded I play a tune. A policeman held up my music sheet, and I played for the crowd. Perhaps noticing my condition, the bobby flagged down a cabbie and instructed him to get me home. He dropped me outside Boof and Auntie’s place at the top of Elm Grove, no charge,  Auntie came out and hauled me in”.

The following day:-

“I must have been all right, as I woke up in the morning and went down to the pub with Auntie. I’d long since made a solid decision never to try and outdrink Auntie, that was a battle you’d be sure to lose, she could drink with the best of them”.

Sydney, Australia. Late 1945, early 1946

HMS Ranee, and HMS Vengeance

“HMS Ranee was my first ship, an Auxiliary Light Fleet Carrier. It was a Liberty Ship, a lease lend effort from the Yanks, and a noisy ship it was. We boarded at Pompey, went through the Med., spent a week at Gibralta, and two months at Malta, through the Suez Canal to Aden and on to Australia, at Parramatta, docking at Woolamaloo. We were lodged at Warwick Park, a dispersal area for troops moving through before being sent on.”

First night ashore in Australia we got a three course meal with a bloody great steak for half a crown, there was rationing back in Blighty. I arrived in Australia on HMS Ranee, to join HMS Vengeance as ‘Squadron Writer’ for 812 Squadron. We nicked everything we could find, photos, cloth. Everyone had to come to me for passes, rail, leave, etc”.

I typed out ticket exams for R.N.R merchant seamen coming across to the Royal Navy. Flights written up every day, the duty officer would come to me, after the Skipper and pilots had devised the flight plans, for me to type them up”.

Sydney to Bankstown, airfield outside Sydney.

Big do at Sarjents Ballroom in Sydney.

We were three months in Oz before sailing on HMS Vengeance, a Light Fleet Carrier,  to Ceylon by 1946. I practiced my trumpet playing in the bloody great aircraft hangars on board. There were two lifts, one fore and one aft.”

“Docking at Columbo, where we were ‘unshipped’, then dispersed by lorries that took us to Katakurunda, where there was a jungle airstrip made of metal roll strip. Vengeance went on to India to transport troops.”

“In Katakarunda there was a lake nearby we used to go to for a swim, lots of cases of ear infections as a result!”.

“There was a ‘leave camp’ at Nuraylia Hills,  in tea plantations set in gorgeous green hills very much like the Sussex Downs, with huts named after Sussex resorts, ‘Littlehampton’, ‘Bognor’, etc. Each hut bunked about 50 or 60”.

John Ramus- Squadron Scribe for HMS Vengeance

Coming home:-

From Ceylon, I sailed home by R.F.A, H.M.S Eaglesdale, to a west England port, possibly Portland. Back in England, we got the customs officer blotto, took a load of ‘Rabbits’ (contraband) ashore with us, I had a radio. They (the Customs Officers) must have dreaded us coming, we used to get them so drunk every time we came ashore on arrival back home. The ship birthed at Portland, and we were taken by lorries to Pompey barracks. While there, at Queens Hotel in Southsea, I was typing up 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rate ticket exam papers for Merchant navy boys navigation exams. I met up with the boys, Pat Dalton, and Johnny Phelps in Pompey. Johnny Phelps was the man for getting the beer vouchers, good snooker player and general schmoozer, six foot one, blonde, good looking lad with a great sense of humour.

Next posting:-

I stayed in Pompey a matter of weeks until I blagged an officer to get me a new posting oversees, hoping to see some action, and got Port Said, Egypt. After V.E day I was shipped off to Port Said on a Royal Mail ship, to HMS Stag, a land base, and spent Christmas 1946 there, where having drunk a bottle of cheap hooch, I ended up in hospital, and contracted malaria while in there too. Jewish terrorists were planting limpet mines on British ships at the time, Port Said was full of Liberty ships”.

1947: Back home and de-mob:-

“While in service, I’d been in contact by mail with Uncle Nev in South Africa, and once we knew we would be stopping at Port Elizabeth on our way back from Egypt, he said to let him know when we’d be arriving, and he’d show me around. I was really looking forward to seeing him, but the ship developed engine trouble, and had to bypass South Africa and head straight home to Portland for repairs. I was disappointed to miss seeing Nev and South Africa”


“Back in Portsmouth where we were demobbed with 4 months full pay. I went to get my first job with Brighton council as a life guard at Black Rock. Johnny Phelps had got in first, then Pat Dalton, then they wangled it to get me an interview and I got in too”.

Wangford Tyre Patch- Greyhound at Coral stadium, Hove:-

Myself, Dalton, and Phelps pooled our money to put half a crown on Wangford Tyre Patch to win. It romped home and we bagged 50 bob in winnings. When out together when times were tough, it wasn’t unheard of for items, such as jackets, to get pawned by the others to get money for beer, I came back one time and they’d hocked my Navy greatcoat when we were at Burtons snooker hall, above the shop, opposite the clock tower in Brighton”.

Simple Things

January 3, 2021

Pa and Freddie

Pa and Freddie


Today I have actually been able to get some work done, just a couple of amendments for Building Control, but it seems like a lifetime ago since I could even think about work, the paid variety that is.

Pa is settled in the lounge, on his second session of foot plate walking, an electric walking machine that hopefully helps his circulation and movement. He was in hospital for 6 days, (no visiting allowed), before I was finally allowed to pick him up on the Sunday (20th), having been on intravenous anti biotics and a low fibre diet, and while in there he had also suffered a bout of gout, so I was handed a bulging bag of meds to take away too. The elation of coming home was soon wiped out for Pa by a reaction to the meds he was on, but a phone call to our local GP on the Monday, and a change of medication, (steroids for the gout), started to turn things round within a few days.

Freddie had been going up to Pa’s chair while he was in hospital, looking at it then back at me, as if to ask the question, ‘where is he?’, and he jumped up into it a couple of times, so when Pa came home and was settled back in his chair, Freddie promptly, but gently, climbed up into his arms and just lay there for a good 20 minutes. He did that a few more times, especially when Pa hadn’t been feeling on top of things in those initial days of reaction to the meds. It’s impossible to overstate just how much that meant to the old fossil, and as I said to him, “that’s the best medicine you could have”, the smile on Pa’s face said it all really.

By Christmas eve he felt well enough to come out in the car with me and Freddie, this has always been one of the goals I aim for when Pa has been ill, once he’s recovered enough, getting him out and about, and the Shoreham Fort is one of his favourite places to visit, looking out on to Kingston Bay and Shoreham Harbour while I walk Freddie around the Fort. The next goal to aim for after that is to get him back behind the wheel of his own car, which we achieved yesterday, going to the Adur Rec, then on to the Fort between 8 and 9 in the morning and very little other traffic about, I walk Freddie while Pa listens to Classic FM in the car.

Christmas day dinner was a simple roast chicken dinner with rhubarb and apple crumble pudding, which Simon joined Pa, Ant, and myself, for probably the most low key Christmas feed we’ve ever had, but it was as good as any because we had Pa there at the table, when just days earlier it was touch and go, and never mind what your mind is doing with the worrying possibilities. To be brutally honest, I don’t deal with those worries very well, I’m a natural worrier, and I’ve had years of practice, none of which makes it any easier.

There are plenty of people far worse off, and I sympathise greatly with them, but when it’s your own, you can’t see past that, and in fairness, I don’t even try, I have to concentrate on what’s most important to me, as I would expect anyone else to do. You can worry about others when you’ve got the luxury of having your own situation under control. At 93, Pa isn’t going to be running round the block, or even round the house anymore, but he is still determined to get about as much as he can by his own efforts, (however slowly it might be!), and his innate fighting spirit never ceases to amaze me. 2021 will bring what it brings, I have no preconceptions of what may lay ahead, but if Pa is there with us then it will be just fine.

Christmas Future?

December 16, 2020


Me, Pa and Freddie have been having a cosy week of dog walks and watching too much TV while Ant has been down in Cornwall helping Si Wilson paint his static home there. On Friday our friend Anne Macey popped round with a brightly coloured waistcoat she made for Pa, entirely out of materials we’d given her from Ma’s extensive collection, and mighty fine it looked too. She’s a good scout, and pops round on occasion for socially distanced tea and biscuits. During the summer we could all sit in the garden, but it’s a bit nippy and damp for that now, the only real struggle is keeping the old man in his chair, adamant that he ought to be able to get up and greet visitors, even if it does take him half an hour to penguin walk across the lounge, with the occasional Jack Douglas impression at random moments! (Carry On fans will get this)

We’ve nailed the Christmas card lists, despite the double inconvenience of a)- the Lifeboat Station shop not being open, so had to get our RNLI cards online this year, and b)- not having the Sussex Yacht Club pigeon hole post box this year, both owing to Covid restrictions, but friends have rallied and helped out, just got a handful left, which I hope to get sorted soon. Our last Tesco delivery came Monday, no more slots available until the new year as it stands, but keep checking for cancellations on the advice of the friendly delivery drivers, but overall, we’re pretty well prepared for our Three Men and a Dog Christmas 2020.

Best laid plans and all that jazz, we seemed to be going along quite nicely, then in the space of 24 hours, Pa develops stomach pains, so phone Anne, she’s also a nurse, tell her Pa has a temp of 38.4 and stomach pains, “he needs help, call the doc” she told me, so call the surgery, get told he’ll have to have a Covid test first, I explain he’s 93, not very mobile even when well, and defo not now. She politely tells me she’ll pass on the info, but doubts I’ll get a different answer. Thankfully the Doctors all know Pa, he’s put some business their way in recent years, and Dr Oates was great, even if her advice was sobering, call 999, as the combination of temp plus tender stomach in acute pain not a good mix, she wanted him to have blood tests and a proper work up at hospital. By about 16.30 yesterday evening we went through what now seems a familiar routine, albeit hopefully not as drastic as the other times. The paramedics were brilliant as always, and Freddie took a shine to one of them, so that kept him mercifully quiet during the procedure of checking Pa’s vitals. They told me to prepare a day bag with pants, pyjamas, toothbrush, toothpaste, and slippers, and took him away by 17.15, at which point I think the wind was sucked out of my lungs, going through the whole not knowing headfuck.

Ant arrived back from Cornwall shortly after, “everything all right?”, “no not really”, breathe in, and explain. Fast forward to today, called the hospital Emergency Floor this morning and apparently, they believe he has a perforation of the bowel, but are hoping to deal with it by antibiotics and a (low fibre?) diet, not sure if I remember that correctly or not, and he’s on morphine for the pain. Today I took up his glasses, a book, a picture of Freddie, and a card just to tell him to hurry up, get better and come home. I should explain that I was only allowed to hand the bag of bits to a receptionist on Zone A of the Emergency Floor, and she would take it to Pa over in Zone B. I was pleasantly surprised I’d even be allowed in to the hospital, let alone walk the corridors to the Emergency Floor. Masked up and using the hand sanitisers of course. Conspiracy theorists please go and bury your head back in the sand.

Hopefully tomorrow will bring better news and that the antibiotics are doing their job. We’ve long been calling Pa, ‘Captain Scarlet’, so I’m pinning my hopes on him living up to that well-earned name, and coming back fighting fit for Christmas, that’s all I want Santa.


November 1, 2020
Timmy at Beach Dreams ready to set up our pitch.

Timmy oh Timmy, why did you have to leave us

On Friday night at about 8pm I had a call from Brian Parsons, and he broke the news to me, hoping to let me know before I found out by accident. I can only remember bits of our conversation, I was just stunned I think, my initial thoughts being for him and Jo, Tim’s mum, Gloria, the rest of his family, and extended foster family. All I could think was, “fuck it, fuck it”, and I can’t even imagine what they’re going through.

Tim was so much more than you would think, so complex in lots of ways, but so easy going and carefree in his outlook to life, and the importance of taking it by the scruff, which he did so often. This attitude took him round the world, made him friends everywhere he went, and if it had been written down would have made a great read I have not the slightest doubt. He told me snippets over the many dog walks where our paths crossed, him with his train chasing Collie, Choo Choo Charlie, and me with wee Freddie, our Bichon. He’d lived among Maoris in New Zealand, they’d been impressed with his tattoos, lived in a squat in Sydney while working for a company ‘dressing’ swanky apartments not far from the Opera House, snow boarded wherever the opportunity presented itself, surfed, skate boarded, and lived a pretty Bohemian life as he careered around the world without a plan.

Tim dressing the shop for Beach Dreams 2015

But there was another side to Tim, a caring, proactive role within the social services, where he worked helping children from troubled backgrounds find somewhere to live, find jobs, and on occasions he would be called out to some custody centre to bail one of his charges, or have to deal with screaming irate relatives because he happened to be watching over their child and they had his number. It gave me a chill sometimes when he explained the things he was having to deal with, but that’s the kind of person Tim was, he cared, and actually did something about it, often more than he was paid to do. He told me he’d learned that from his mum, Gloria, having fostered so many children, most of who, if not all, maintained contact as if they were actual family. The tragic news of Tim’s heart-breaking final act, to take his own life, is going to break a lot more hearts.

He knew his job was taking a toll on his health, and had tried to make the break a few years back, coming to work with us on the buildings, and he was happy as Larry for a while. Sadly the work wasn’t continuous enough for him, and eventually he reluctantly went back to working in the care sector.

Timmy was a bit of a dreamer like me, and was always coming up with ideas for making things to decorate a home, night stands, picture frames, tables, chairs, and always with a beach/surf/snowboarding/ganja theme. He produced some lovely stuff, and managed to sell a good deal of it, he had a great eye for a finish, and how to ‘dress a room’ as he called it. We even had a stall at Beach Dreams in 2015 to show off our collective efforts, he was at his happiest then I think, with the promise of his creations getting noticed and possibly a new direction for him to go in life.

Tim in Andorra

The absolute happiest I ever saw him was when we went snowboarding, then he was completely in his element, but still, typical of the man he was, despite being on a different stratosphere to us as boarders, he took the time to tutor us, and especially a young Benn Grisbrook on his first time when we were snowboarding in Andorra.

When Tim asked if I’d help trace his family tree I was happy to help out, and amazed at what I found. He’d told me how his dad died early, and may have mentioned the Burmese link, but once I got going it turned out to be a hell of a story they have as a family, some generations of which, were born and raised in Burma, having arrived there originally as river pilots in Bengal in the early 1800’s. This family history, and the stories his dad had told him of their time there, his dad apparently in a plane taking off up the runway as the Japanese army were almost upon them at the outbreak of WW2 in that region, sowed the seed in Tim’s mind that he wanted to visit and track down whatever he could find out. When he asked me if I’d be interested it was a no brainer, Burma was like some mystical country, only recently at that time having opened their borders to the outside world. He was like a kid in a sweetshop virtually the whole way round, loving the people, and they loved him right back, with his infectious smile, and deadly combination of dark hair and big blue eyes. While on the one hand I’m so pleased I got to do that trip with him, I’m absolutely gutted there will never be another. He had asked if I fancied a trip to Jamaica a couple of years back, but I wasn’t overly keen on that one, and I think it slipped of his radar eventually.

The last time we spoke was on the phone about a week and a half back, and he said he was hopefully dealing with things since his bipolar diagnosis, and told me he couldn’t drive for the moment, but could take Charlie to the local park, but that Charlie was getting a bit slow in his old age. I wanted to pop over, but he said he wasn’t ready for visitors yet, thanked me for the call, and we hoped to catch up soon. That’s not going to happen now, and however much I tell myself his soul, character, and memories will live on in us, it hurts like fucking hell to even be writing this. I don’t know if anything anyone could have said would have stopped you mate, but I wish I’d had the chance. Bless your heart Timmy, you’ve broken ours.

A (not so) Brief History of Aviation at Shoreham. Part 6

October 13, 2020

A (not so) Brief History of Aviation at Shoreham.  Part 6


January 1912 at Shoreham Aerodrome saw flying schools getting established, as reported in Flight Magazine- 06-01-1912

Brighton-Shoreham Aerodrome

Last weekend has seen the successful completion of two machines, the Collyer-England tractor biplane and the Chanter monoplane. The first named made straight flights on Saturday and Monday, with Dowland in control, and was put through a fair amount of rolling by both England and Dowling. Mr M. Chanter took his new monoplane out on Monday, and was in the air with her shortly after leaving the shed. On Tuesday she was out again, under the pilotage of her owner, and gave still better results. Ross, Gattler, Kent, and Davies, were out on the Chanter school Bleriots.

The Chanter Flying School at Shoreham

The Chanter Flying School at Shoreham, with their two Anzani-Bleriots and their 35-h.p. monoplane modelled on Nieuport lines. At the left-hand side is Mr. M. Chanter, the Director of the school. To the right are Messrs. De Villlers, Gassier, Kent, Ross, and two of the school mechanics.

A week later, Flight Magazine, 13-01-1912,  informs its readers of a significant addition proposed at Shoreham:-

‘Things are moving apace at the Brighton-Shoreham Aerodrome. In order that shedholders may be on the spot and able to avail themselves of every period of early morning calm, a clubhouse is shortly to be erected. A view of this building as it will appear when completed appears elsewhere in this issue. It is intended to furnish 20 bedrooms for their use and two billiard rooms, each with two tables, are to be provided. Good luck to such sound enterprise.’

With Flight Magazine keeping tabs on aviation progress around the country, Shoreham continued to receive coverage of its advancement on a weekly basis, here is their report for the week ending 20th Jan 1912:-

Brighton-Shoreham Aerodrome

Practically every day last week has seen outdoor work going on. The Chanter school was very busy on Wednesday, the 10th, Kent got off the ground for the first time, and made a very steady straight flight on the Bleriot. Gassler and De Villiers were both up several times, and Hamilton-Ross put in a flight or two both on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday, Gassler was doing a long flight in splendid form on one of the school Bleriots, but had the misfortune to run in to the wire fence between the hangars and the restaurant, damaging the machine but escaping unhurt himself. Saturday saw Chanter doing cross country work on the 40-h.p Anzani-Bleriot. In the gathering dusk his flying was brought to an untimely end by a down current of air which caused a rather abrupt landing in a field adjoining the Lancing College. The machine was smashed, but Mr Chanter was unhurt, having been thrown clear.

The Collyer- England machine has been undergoing an overhaul, and has only appeared outside on two occasions. On Wednesday England had her up and down the ground several times, and on Thursday Dowland was testing her. A cheer was raised when this neat biplane came spinning towards the sheds “two up”.

Collyer England biplane with Green engine at Shoreham.

Also in this edition, the magazine reports on Lieutenant Walter Lawrence’s movements in the ‘Air Eddies’ section:-

Lieut. Lawrence, of the 7th Essex Regiment, who was recently reported in the daily press as intending to cross the channel with miss Lottie Paine, one of the nuns appearing in “The Miracle” at Olympia, as passenger, has been for the past week at Filey, where he has been gaining experience on the Blackburn monoplane. By the time these lines appear in print he expects to be settled at Shoreham with one of the Blackburn school machines, which the firm has, in a very sportsmanlike manner, placed at his disposal, until he obtains delivery of the Blackburn two seater for which he has placed an order.

Lieut. Walter Lawrence Aviator Licence No.113 Certificate photo.
Issued by the Royal Aero Club.


In the January 18th edition of ‘The Aeroplane’, there is mention of the going’s on at Shoreham, and a photograph of Oscar Morison moving his Bleriot machine from the aerodrome back in the summer, with D. G. Gilmour standing in front of his car, a fine example of the transportability of these early ‘kites’:-

Morison moving Bleriot from Shoreham.


Meanwhile, local newspaper, Brighton Gazette Saturday 27th January 1912, reports on movements at Shoreham Aerodrome:-

Aviation at Shoreham

The “Blackburn” passenger carrying monoplane, expected at the Brighton-Shoreham  aerodrome from the north of England, arrived at Shoreham-by-Sea Station on Thursday, and Lieutenant Lawrence, who is flying this make of aeroplane, towed it over to the Aerodrome behind his motor car. As already announced, he will be staying there for a time

The last January report for Shoreham in Flight Magazine, 27-01-1912, is a brief summary of the weeks events.

Brighton-Shoreham Aerodrome

By the time this appears in print, Lieut. Walter Lawrence should have his Blackburn monoplane and have put in some good flying here.

Messrs. M. Chanter and Co’s staff have been busy getting the Bleriot’s into flying order again, and one of the machines will be at work again before the end of the week.

A 35-h.p Green is being fitted in the Collyer-England biplane as the machine has proved its worth and promised excellent results if provided with more power. Great things are looked for when she comes out again this weekend.

February saw the continuance of increasing activities at Shoreham, with the recently built hangars at near full capacity, and as always, Flight Magazine, 03-02-1912, following the aerodrome’s progress :-

Brighton-Shoreham Aerodrome

On Thursday last week the 25-h.p Anzani-Bleriot was brought out by Kent, who put in a short time at rolling practice, while Chanter was continuing the test of his new monoplane. Lieut. Walter Lawrence arrived with the Gnome-Blackburn monoplane, which has been placed at his disposal pending the completion of the passenger machine the Blackburn Company has on order for him.

On Saturday the machine was ready for working, and Lieut. Lawrence took his seat in the machine and had a rollover the ground, then did a straight flight. This was his first experience in the monoplane.

Sunday being an ideal day for flying, the Blackburn was brought out early, and Lieut. Lawrence did a little practice in her, getting accustomed to the control, and putting in some good work. During the morning, Mr B.C. Hucks took the Blackburn in hand, and, rising very quickly in to the air, made several splendid circuits, but had to come down on account of the carburettor freezing, and alighted on a piece of land outside the aerodrome. After lunch, Mr Hucks flew back in to the aerodrome and di a very fine flight. He then took Mr Blackburn up as a passenger.

Next day Lieut. Lawrence did straight flights, making excellent progress with his new mount. The Collyer-England machine has been out with a Green engine, but is not tuned up to the satisfaction of her owner yet.

Tuesday was a very busy afternoon. Lieut. Lawrence getting the Blackburn out, and rising very quickly from the ground, covered three 5 mile circuits in splendid fashion, climbing to an altitude of 1,000 ft. He vol planed, and landed very easily. The Collyer-England was brought out, and some good work put in. Mr Chanter had his new monoplane out, but after doing several runs could not get the engine to work properly. The 25-h.p. Anzani-Bleriot was also brought out, but only did rolling practice, as the engine was not working satisfactorily.

The engine was the three-cylinder 35 h.p. Anzani. The Chanter Monoplane was used for training at Shoreham, Sussex, when the school was transferred there.

In what would prove to be a  tragic week for the aviation world, progress continued at Shoreham, with Flight Magazine:- 24-02-1912, relaying the events to its eager readers of the previous week:-

During the early part of last week most of the machines were in the sheds for various reasons. The C.E biplane was having her new tractor made and fitted, the Chanter monoplane undergoing sundry minor adjustments with a view to still further increasing her efficiency, while the Blackburn was in the final stages of repair after the mishap of the 3rd.

Wednesday saw the C.E biplane up, England and Dowland in turn at the control. She is much improved with her new tractor. On Friday, further flights were put in, but the last landing resulted in a buckled wheel, which rendered the machine hors de combat for the day.

Lieut. Lawrence was on the wing again on Saturday, the Blackburn being finished. A trial flight of 3 miles in the morning proved so satisfactory that a trip to Brighton was arranged for the afternoon. At about 3.45, Lieut. Lawrence left the ground and rapidly gained the height of 1,500 feet. When passing over the front at Brighton, handbills were thrown from the machine, to be eagerly caught up as they reached the ground, it being the first time this form of advertising has been tried in this district. The trip lasted 22 minutes, and was brought to a very successful close with a graceful vol plane.

One of early Shoreham aerodrome’s most colourful characters, Douglas Graham Gilmour, suffered a fatal accident while flying out of Brooklands Aerodrome on Saturday 17th Feb 1912. He was a hugely popular pioneer of aviation, whose untimely death was reported widely throughout the world to a greatly saddened public, but he was always prepared for such an eventuality, as following newspaper reports, and friend’s testimonies, will show.

Douglas Graham Gilmour, crashed and died 17th Feb 1912

Here is the report from The Yorkshire Evening Post, Tuesday, February 20, 1912:-






Mr Graham Gilmour, the daring young aviator who was killed on Saturday at Old Deer Park, Richmond, wrote a letter last May, and sealed it, giving instructions that it was not to be opened except in the case of his death.

This letter it appears, contained his wishes with regard to his funeral arrangements. It is requested that no bell is to be tolled, and that there is to be “no mourning and no moaning”

If any flowers were to be sent they were to be coloured ones; his body to be conveyed on a four wheeled farmers cart, or a motor lorry. He also wished to be buried with his mother and father at Mickleham Church.

Further on in the article it reads as follows:-

Evidence of identification was given by Mr Staples Firth, of Upper Tulse Hill. He said Mr Douglas Graham Gilmour would have been 27 years of age next month, and had been brought up as an engineer. He was also an aeronaut, and resided at Bookham, Surrey. He had been deceased’s solicitor, and also a personal friend for some years. When he saw him last Thursday he seemed in his usual condition, but perhaps was a little run down. He was very active and vigorous, added the witness, who paused, and then said in a low voice, “and a very courageous man”.


Answering questions, Mr Firth said deceased was an expert in flying, and was not foolhardy or reckless. He calculated all that he did in relation to his flying. Deceased told witness that it was his practice to make a minute inspection of his own machine before he went up. “He had no trouble?”, asked the Coroner. “No” Mr Firth replied. “He had everything in perfect order”.

Later that year it is revealed that Gilmour wrote his will out on headed paper of the Royal Albion Hotel, Brighton, one of Harry Preston’s hotels, while staying there around the time when he and Eric Cecil Gordon England flew from Shoreham to Hove lawns on the 21st May, 1911, nearly dunking in the sea after engine failure. Perhaps it was this incident which made Gilmour think about writing a will.

Nottingham Daily Express, Friday, May 24, 1912

“Graham Gilmour’s Will

The will has now been proved of Mr Douglas Graham Gilmour, the famous aviator, who was killed whilst flying over the Old Deer Park, Richmond, on February 17th last, at the age of 26 years. His will was made on a sheet of notepaper, with the Royal Albion Hotel (Brighton) heading, is dated May 25th, 1911, and reads as follows:-

“I leave everything to Mrs Marcia Milbank, and wish her to pay Mrs. Moor, of  80, Maida Vale, W., per cent. of the income until Mrs. Moor’s marriage or death. Trustees:- T. W. S. Pollok and Staples Firth.”

The will is witnessed by Mr. H. R. Preston, (Hugh Richard Preston), proprietor of the Royal Albion Hotel, Brighton, and Mr. H. J. Preston (Harry John Preston). As he named no executor of his will, letters of administration with the will annexed of his property have been granted to Marcia, wife of Robert Charles Milbank of Goose Hill, Martock, Somerset, by whom Mr Gilmour’s estate has been sworn for probate as of the gross value of £22. 10s”

As it ever was with the growing world of aviation, life went on, and Lieutenant Lawrence, as if to emphasise the ever present danger of aviation at the time, nearly comes to grief on a flight from Shoreham to Eastbourne, covered by Flight Magazine, 2nd March, 1912:-

Brighton-Shoreham Aerodrome

On Saturday last the flying conditions were ideal the greater the part of the day, and Lieut. Lawrence gave exhibition flights during the morning. The C.E biplane has been putting in good work and is proving a very manageable machine, she is extremely steady and answers readily to her controls; she would be an excellent ‘bus for school purposes. On Monday morning Lieut. Lawrence flew to Eastbourne on the Blackburn monoplane, covering the 32 miles in 26 minutes, there being a following wind which increased from 8 m.p.h when he left Shoreham, to about 30 m.p.h. by the time he landed. As he approached Eastbourne, at an altitude of 2,500 ft, his engine failed and he was forced to come down on the beach, and although several ballast trucks were right in the path of the forced vol plane he managed to elevate the machine sufficiently to clear them and so landed without damage. The fact that Lieut. Lawrence has only recently taken to the monoplane, this being but his seventh flight on this type, speaks volumes for the capabilities of this popular officer as well as for the efficiency of the machine, which, by the way, is the same B.C. Hucks used for his tour in the west of England and the Circuit of Great Britain.

It may well have been Lieut. Lawrence that was spotted by crowds on Brighton seafront on this occasion, as reported in the Brighton Gazette of Wednesday 21st Feb:-

“It was a curious coincidence that almost as soon as the sad news of the disaster to Mr. Graham Gilmour had spread among the crowds on the Sea Front, an aeroplane was discerned approaching from the direction of the Shoreham Aerodrome, and public attention was rivetted upon the movements of the aviator. He was advancing rapidly against a headwind, and was soon over the West Pier, proceeding eastwards about three hundred feet above the channel. It was apparently one of the new type of monoplane, tapering off into a kind of dolphin tail. It struck observers that the motion was wonderfully steady, and that the aviator had complete control over the machine. Off West Street, the pilot turned inland, and passing behind the Grand Hotel and the Hotel Metropole, once more made for the line of the shore, and sailed away at a terrific rate for Shoreham, soon being lost in the haze.”

Fire at Shoreham Aerodrome

Fire at Shoreham Aerodrome hangars, Feb 29th, 1912. Photo by F. Rowe

At the end of February, disaster befell Shoreham Aerodrome, and chiefly Chanter and Co flying school, while Lieut. Lawrence’s plane had a very lucky escape, reported in Flight Magazine of March 9th 1912:-

Brighton-Shoreham Aerodrome

Three aeroplanes have been lost as result of the disastrous fire which broke out in the sheds on February 29th. Some employees were saying goodbye after a Leap Year ball at the Town Hall on the early morning of February 29th when they observed flames in the direction of the aerodrome. Making their way thither they found a furious fire raging and involving three of the hangars. In order to keep the fire under control a fourth hangar was pulled down. The three aeroplanes destroyed were a Nieuport and two Bleriots belonging to Messrs Chanter and Co. which were housed in two of the sheds, while the third shed, which usually housed Lieut. Lawrence’s Blackburn machine, was empty. Damage is estimated at over £1000.

The Brighton Gazette also covered the story in their Saturday 2nd March edition, here is a part of their coverage:-

Big Fire at Shoreham Aerodrome

Meanwhile the Shoreham Fire Brigade arrived on the scene, and the work of isolating the flames, rescuing aeroplanes and other articles from the hangars yet intact, and getting the fire under was assiduously proceeded with. Chemical fire extinguishers were brought into action, and buckets of water poured on the buildings. It was touch and go as far as the fourth hangar was concerned, but by cutting down a portion, the fire was kept away from the remainder of the block.  The Brigade got the fire under by about four o’clock. Three aeroplanes were destroyed, including a Nieuport and two Bleriots. Two engines were also destroyed, while among other effects lost were the tools of the mechanics, which are of a somewhat valuable character. The three machines taken out of the other hangars included Mr England’s aeroplane and the Metzgar-Leno monoplane. Mr Wingfield and Mr Pettett (Manager of the Aerodrome) were also apprised of the occurrence and came over from Brighton.”

It would appear that all did not go smoothly with the rebuild of the destroyed hangars, resulting in the builder, John Joseph McManus of Brighton, taking the proprietors of the aerodrome to court:-

Brighton Gazette Saturday 18th May 1912

Shoreham Aerodrome

Brighton Builder’s Appeal

In the Court of Appeal on Tuesday before Lords Justices Vaughan Williams, Fletcher Moulton, and Farwell, the appeal was heard of Mc Manus v the Brighton-Shoreham Aerodrome, Ltd. And another, on the plaintiff’s appeal from an order by Mr. Justice Bucknill in chambers. The plaintiff, Mr. John Joseph McManus, a builder and contractor, of Brighton, sued the defendants, originally known as Aviators Finance, Limited, for work done and material supplied in connection with work at the aerodrome. The plaintiff had received £500 in cash, and £400 in debentures, and he claimed that there was now owing a balance of £1,069 15s 10d. The defendants pleaded that the work had not been done according to specifications, that it was not left in a stable and proper condition, and that the plaintiff had used inferior and cheaper material. They also stated that plaintiff had been guilty of breach of contract, but all these and other allegations the plaintiff denied.

The plaintiff made an application before Master Chitty that certain portions of the defence should be struck out, on the ground that they were unnecessary, and tended to prejudice the trial. The Master refused to do this, and plaintiff then appealed to Mr. Justice Bucknill in Chambers, who dismissed the appeal, upholding the order of the Master. Against this plaintiff now appealed. The Court dismissed the appeal with costs, the appellant to pay the costs in any event.

Maurice Chanter took out an advert to alert the world of aviation that despite their losses in the fire, his flying school would continue as before:-

Chanter Flying School advert

Shoreham continued to attract the stars of the air regardless, with Pierre Verrier coming down on his Maurice Farnham biplane, on which he managed a creditable 4th position in ‘The Aerial Derby’ held at Hendon on 8th June in front of 45,000 spectators despite pouring rain on the day, proving again that aviators really were the brightest stars of this era.

Northern Whig Monday 8th July 1912

M. Verrier, on a Maurice Farman biplane, and having as passenger his mechanic, left Hendon Aerodrome for Brighton at 4.15  yesterday afternoon. He reached the Shoreham Aerodrome, Brighton, a 5.35.

Pierre Verrier-aviator


A Shoreham Lady Aviator

Winnie Buller (Probably at Douai, France) 1912

In The Aeroplane magazine of 21st March 1912, a half page spread was devoted to lady aviator, Mrs Winifred Buller, whose husband, George Cecil Buller, was Managing Director of the Shoreham and Lancing Land Company. The article was entitled:- ‘A British Sportswoman‘ :-

A fine example of British sportsmanship is that of Mrs Buller, whose husband owns a number of popular bungalows at Shoreham. When the Comte de Montalent was over here with the Breguet, Mrs Buller made several flights with him, and was so taken with the machine that she resolved to learn to fly it. Consequently, as her husband had to make a long business tour abroad, Mrs Buller shut up her house, packed her two small sons and their nurse into her car and drove across France to Douai, where she has since been flying. Her apprenticeship was short, for in spite of bad weather she has only been learning seven weeks, and evidently might have taken her certificate some time ago, for last week she made a flight of 100 kilometres across country from Douai to Arras and back, including several detours off the direct route to explore the country. This is certainly the longest cross country flight ever made by a woman. Mrs Buller says that the pupils at Douai have such confidence in the stability of their machines when in the air, and in the way they are protected in case of a smash, that they go out in all sorts of weather. Soon after her big cross country flight, Mrs Buller herself flew in to the wash of the Comte de Montalent’s machine and came down with quite a nasty bump, but absolutely without damage to herself. She is a firm believer in the sense of sitting behind the engine and inside a proper protective body.

Winifred Buller went on to attain her flying certificate on the 3rd May 1912 while in France

Winnie Buller’s flying certificate



Brighton Gazette Saturday 24th August 1912

Shoreham to Southampton

M. Salmet’s Daring Flight

M. Salmet left the aerodrome at Shoreham on Wednesday night to fly to Southampton. It was a very daring deed, for the weather conditions were rough and boisterous, and the aviator obviously ran great risk in starting. He passed over Worthing at about 6.40, and caused considerable excitement, as it was seen that the machine was battling against a strong wind, and making an unsteady up and down course. It looked as though the aviator might descend to the west of Worthing, but the machine rose again. Later M. Salmet encountered quite a hurricane and a deluge of driving rain, and was forced to descend near Angmering. A great crowd of people who were waiting the aviators arrival at Southampton were disappointed. It was about seven o’clock when Salmet landed near Angmering, and naturally, in a quiet country village, the unexpected arrival created the greatest possible interest. M. Salmet said he was not afraid of the wind, but it was the rain that forced him to descend. The decent was made in a field to the north of Normanhurst, Rustington. M. Salmet resumed his journey by air to Southampton on Thursday morning, leaving at 5.30.

Henri Salmet outside a hangar at Hendon Aerodrome 1912


Robert Bertram Slack’s 500 mile tour of the south of England by Bleriot monoplane with Gnome engine. Following on from his hugely successful 1100 mile tour of Great Britain, starting at Hendon Aerodrome on the 15th June

Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser. Friday 21st June 1912

An Air Tour of Great Britain

The tour of Great Britain by a British Aviator, Mr. Robert Slack, who started from the Hendon Aerodrome on June 15th, is arousing very great interest not only among aviators, but also among the general public. The tour has been organised by the International Correspondence Schools, and is undertaken as a means of educating the public to an understanding of the vast strides that have been made in the science of aviation.

Robert Slack, aviator flying for the International Correspondence Schools

Daily Herald Saturday 31st August 1912

Southern Aeroplane Tour

Mr Robert Slack, the aviator who is on a 500 mile tour of the south, in connection with the International Correspondence Schools, arrived at Smitham Downs, between Purley and Coulsden, yesterday afternoon. Afterwards he continued his flight in the direction of Brighton. Slack reached the Shoreham Aerodrome, near Brighton, a distance of 40 miles, in 32 minutes. He was flying at an average height of about 4,000 feet.

Brighton Gazette Wednesday 4th September 1912

Aviator’s Visit

An aeroplane passing over the Brighton Front on Monday afternoon attracted much attention. It was a Bleriot monoplane, on which the I.C.S pilot, Mr. Slack, was making a flight from the Shoreham Aerodrome to the Race Hill. Starting at five o’clock, he rose to a height of 1,500 feet near Lancing College, and then made his way via Bungalow Town, and kept right along the seafront to Brighton. Nearing the Palace Pier, Mr. Slack came down to a lower elevation, and this gave the thousands of spectators along the promenade a better view of both the aviator and his machine.

After flying round the Pier he steered for Black Rock, and turning, headed for the grand stand on the race course, near where it had been arranged that he should alight. Planing down several hundred feet he found the position of the ground awkwardly situated for the descent, and, restarting his engine, he circled the hill several times to enable him to select the best direction for alighting under the difficult conditions. By careful judgement he eventually succeeded in descending. By this time a great crowd had assembled, including members of the Brighton Corporation, I.C.S students, the Brighton staff of the International Correspondence Schools, all shewing their appreciation of his performance in an enthusiastic manner.

During his stay of about 20 minutes, the people had an opportunity of viewing the machine, and meanwhile Mr. Slack was busily engaged with inquiries about his previous circuit of 1,150 miles of Great Britain, and he signed numerous autographs. Thanks to the able assistance of the police, Mr. Slack had no difficulty in mounting his machine and preparing for the return to the hangar at Shoreham. He left the Race Hill in fine style and steered in a north-westerly direction, which afforded an excellent view to the people in neighbouring places. Nearing Portslade he made for the sea, and kept to the coast. Turning in at Shoreham over the Norfolk Bridge, he descended gracefully near the hangar within the Aerodrome. The weather conditions during Mr. Slack’s flights were by no means favourable, gusty wind varying from 15 to 30 miles per hour, making aviation by no means easy, as was apparent from the way his machine swayed at times.

Flights at Shoreham

Mr. Robert Slack made two magnificent flights from the Shoreham Aerodrome on Saturday afternoon. After circling the aerodrome several times in a masterly manner, he headed for Worthing, and, working round via the Lancing Carriage Works at a height of about 1,000 feet, he then made for Shoreham again, changing his course easily, in spite of the strong rear wind, which had accelerated his travelling speed to about 85 miles per hour. Reaching the aerodrome he alighted amid the applause of a large number of I.C.S students, friends, and prominent local visitors. A second satisfactory flight was made shortly after, in the direction of Hove, returning by way of the Dyke, and before landing the I.C.S aviator gave a demonstration of vol-planing which delighted the spectators. Several students at this stage expressed an enthusiastic desire to accompany him on future occasions.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Slack will remain for some little time, and will carry out a varied programme from day to day, visiting most of the local centres of the I.C.S students, including Brighton, Worthing, Bognor, Eastbourne, Lewes, etc.

Flight Magazine note the arrival of Avro at Shoreham. 28th September 1912

“Avro School Goes South

The Avro School, which has hitherto been located at Brooklands, has secured new quarters at the Shoreham Aerodrome, near Brighton. They are going still further south as, following an order from the Portuguese Government, it is intended to found an Avro School in Portugal.”

West Sussex Gazette 24th October 1912

It is remarked in a journal dealing with aviation that the flying ground at Shoreham will probably be the scene of considerable activity this winter. Mr A.V. Roe, a well known aeroplane constructor, is moving his flying school there, and there has been some talk of utilising the river Adur, which flows at a distance of less than a hundred yards from the hangars, for conducting experiments with hydro-aeroplanes. Near one corner of the aerodrome, which is surrounded by a high fencing of corrugated iron, so that the frugally minded cannot remark what is taking place within, stands Old Shoreham Bridge. This very picturesque structure still survives.

Oscar Morison marries daughter of Bungalow Town residents, Howard and Annie Cleaver

Brighton Gazette  Wednesday 27th November 1912


Yesterday the wedding took place at St. Peter’s Church, Brighton, of Mr. Oscar C. Morison, the famous aviator, who was the first to fly to Brighton. His bride was Miss Marguerite Valerie Cleaver, of Shoreham and London. A great deal of local interest was evinced in the wedding, which was also attended by a large number of guests. After the ceremony, which was fully choral, the church being charmingly decorated with palms, variegated foliage and white chrysanthemums, a reception was held at the Royal Albion Hotel, where Mr. Morison made his residence during his flying expeditions here. Some 100 guests were received in a profusely decorated lounge.

Fellow aviator, James Valentine, was a witness to the marriage, and aviators friend, Harry Preston, entertained the guests at his Royal Albion Hotel afterwards. Also, Oscar’s new brother in law, Digby Cleaver, living at Bungalow Town with his parents, was the first Boy Scout to fly in an aeroplane. The Cleaver’s lived at Coronation bungalow while in Shoreham

Marriage certificate for O C Morison and Marguerite Cleaver. Fellow aviator James Valentine is one of the witnesses