EAST DEAN & FRISTON LOCAL HISTORY GROUP

I rested at Exceat, and lingered again to look at West Dean farm, nestling so snugly below me; then on again to Fox Hole, where I expected to find Mr. Dick Fowler, the shep­herd. My programme was altered, however, for I found that he had moved to East Dean, and as I thought to see the ox team there I rambled that way. It was no hardship, for a green track by the roadside was full of interest. Here grew many spikes of clustered bell-flowers and delightful chicory plants in bloom, and they made the way to Friston an easy one. A wandering clouded yellow butterfly gave a pleasing touch of colour to the path as it flitted along.

By the roadside at East Dean a forge with an old ox yoke above the door offered some interest, but I found that the team of oxen at Birling Farm had gone on a journey from which there is no return. My visit to Mr. Fowler, however, was worth much to me. He owns one of the best lots of canister bells to be heard on the downs to-day and these were in his hut. Most of them are very old and some are only fitted with crown rings of wire. Some belonged to his grandfather and are treasured possessions.

Barclay Wills, Downland Treasure, 1929
Isn't it amazing what local history information still turns, many decades after it was produced? Above is the programme for an entertainment put on by  6610 Servicing Echelon* at RAF Friston, in August 1944. Obviously there was a lighter side to their time at RAF Friston.

*No.6610 Servicing Echelon's job was to maintain the Spitfires of 610 Squadron which was based at RAF Friston from July to September 1944.

It came with a photograph of an RAF sergeant but, as is often the case, there is no way to identify him. Unfortunately nothing is written on the back except the name of the photography studio. All we can say is that he was an Air Gunner, as shown by the Flying Badge or Brevet on his uniform, and he possibly served at RAF Friston.
The Daily Mirror of 25 April 1905 reports "London's Royal Naval Volunteers taking part in the Easter manoeuvres at Eastbourne. They are here seen shelling Triston Hill from the valley." Well, they nearly got it right. (Thanks to Kevin Gordon for sending the newspaper clipping.)

Here is a clearer photograph of them having a well-earned rest (and drink) outside the Tiger Inn in East Dean.
Here is a post card produced from a photograph by John Dann. The scene will be familiar to many of our members as it shows the coast road near the old Belle Tout lighthouse. What might be less familiar is that the lighthouse doesn't have its lantern room on top of the tower. John took this photograph in the 1990s when the lighthouse was missing the top part of the tower which was destroyed by gunnery practice during WW2.

The lantern room was replaced by a temporary structure by the BBC for the filming of 'The Life and Loves of a She-Devil' in 1986, but it was removed once the production was over.
A virtual way to attend our meetings

We have known for some time that our meetings are not convenient for everyone because they are held in the afternoon. As an experiment, we did try evening meetings but these were poorly attended. Fortunately technology has offered a solution. Now our meetings are being recorded and can be viewed on YouTube at any time during the following three weeks. These videos are not listed on YouTube but a link will be sent to all members when the recording is ready to view.

Also you can find our promotional video here. Simply click on the link to watch it.

We hope this will enable more people to enjoy our meetings, even if they are unable to attend at the Village Hall in person.
Contact us if you need more information.
Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 25 June 2024. Click here for details.
After a postponement due to bad weather, our annual village fete finally took place on Saturday, 16 September, 2023. This time the weather held and it proved to be a very successful event for the history group. Our exhibition, about the 1962 Big Freeze, and our history booklets proved very popular. We also signed-up seven new members to join our group. A lot of effort for the organisers but a very worthwhile result.
Our stalls attracted many visitors and the display boards were kept grounded by the ingenious addition of water-filled milk bottles!
Local residents will remember how long the roadworks took on the Jevington Road. Perhaps it would have finished sooner if the workers had access to this magnificent machine.
A search on the Internet suggests that it is a Whitworth Armstrong steam roller, made in the 1930s.