EAST DEAN & FRISTON LOCAL HISTORY GROUP

Our next meeting is on Wednesday, 25 July. Click here for details.
WE HOPE that members will feel inspired to contribute some local history items that they have discovered. To get them published here, please contact us.
JUNE MEETING REPORT

Katherine Buckland, Heritage Engagement Officer, presented Planes, Trains and Airships. Despite the hot weather and Andy Murray, the meeting was well attended.

Katherine spoke about the fledgling aircraft industry in Eastbourne, and the early pioneers of this dangerous new world of flight. Crashes were common but most pilots were able to walk away from the wrecked planes, ready to fly another day.

Then she moved on to the Polegate Airship Station at Willingdon. Despite the traumatic times of WW1, there were some amusing tales and members from Willingdon were able to relate more stories which always adds to the enjoyment of the meeting. A film track from the IWM showed the entire camp marching to the Cook House and the sergeant, last in line, running with enthusiasm. It must have been a special serving that day! Many women were involved in the making and mending of the airship balloons, and a large crew of men were needed to guide these huge airships into the sheds.

A disappointment for train fans was that Katherine only mentioned trains in passing as carriers of aircraft parts for the aircraft factory and airship station, taken by rail to Polegate. The Polegate Airship Station was so called, despite being in Willingdon, because they were always named after the nearest railway station.
TOBOGGANING AT EASTBOURNE

From the Black and White Budget weekly magazine, published Feb 23, 1901. Photo by J Coster.
SENSATIONALISED FRONT COVER from the TRUE DECTECTIVE, March 1984. (The scantily clad woman with a gun has nothing to do with it.) Inside, the magazine tells the story of Dr John Bodkin Adams; a doctor with surgeries in Eastbourne and East Dean. Accused of "easing the passing" of his patients, he stood trial at the Old Bailey for murder. You can read the real, but none the less sensational story in booklet 48, written by Dr John Surtees. Decide for yourself whether he was a murder or man of mercy - it is not a clear-cut decision.
Ever wondered about the unlikely story of the tunnel running from the Lamb Inn in Eastbourne to the old Parsonage? Sometimes referred to as a smugglers or monks tunnel, it now seems certain that it was a cesspit. Not as romantic a tale but archeologist Jo Seaman finds the truth more exciting and unusual. Watch his investigation report from the cellars of the Lamb here.
This photograph, from the 1950s, appears to show Donald Swann (of Flanders and Swann fame) seated at a harmonium on the village green. We would really like to know more about it so, if you remember the occasion or can identify anyone in it, please contact us.
Here is a post card showing the forge at East Dean with blacksmith Luther Hills, and another unidentified man, standing outside. It was sent in 1949 to Mrs Gardner of St George's Square in London SW1. Mr Richardson wrote on it:

"The weather has been rather sunny & foggy in turns & the temperatures enervating."
This dramatic post card was published by A E Marchant, a wholesale newsagent based in Seaford. It shows rough seas pounding Seaford beach before it was raised and re-inforced in 1987 to prevent flooding in the town. The salt spray is drifting over some parked cars of early 1960s vintage and a loan crane on the beach (left) struggles, Canute-like, to turn back the tide!

In the photo Martello Tower no. 74 still has the additions put on top to make it into a cafe, and described by Dirk Bogarde as "a very curious and dampish place" where they took tea after swimming. These alterations have now been removed and the tower has taken on the more dignified role as the town's museum.
This is our stall and exhibition at the Village Fete in June. The weather was kinder this year, with no repeat of last year's downpour.

There were lots of visitors. Booklet sales and comments about the exhibition were encouraging, and a good number of new members were signed up.

Thanks to everyone who helped set up those pesky tents, and a special 'thank you' to those who visited our stall. Now it's time to pack it all away until next year.