Posts Tagged ‘1954’

Yorkshire – Knaresborough

March 16, 2016

Once again we look at my railway poster art calendar. This time, for March, it is a scene in Knaresborough, Yorkshire.


Jack Merriott was the artist and this was produced in 1954.

The River Nidd flows under a handsome railway viaduct which has a steam hauled goods train passing over it. The train and loco are not clearly defined but the river is awash with pleasure vessels with a lady shading under a parasol, relaxing on a punt taking centre stage. Picnics and tea rooms abound by the river side. It looks idyllic and charming.

My visit to Knaresborough was way back in 1998 – almost twenty years ago. The scene I snapped then is much as shown in the poster – with handsome viaduct over the River Nidd. But we were there just before Easter and there were no pleasure boats on the water. But I was lucky enough to get a train crossing the viaduct.image004

Sadly, no steam train for me but a rather nondescript diesel train adds to the scene.

Alfriston Church

February 13, 2016

This is another of my grandfather’s pictures and it shows my dad and aunt at Alfriston in East Sussex.


Alfriston is always very highly regarded as a pretty village. In my childhood it became something of a tourist honeypot. It is wonderfully situated, between the South Downs and the River Cuckmere and of course, being ‘Alfric’s Town’ it has history.

I’m not sure what Grandad was most interested in when he took the photo. He hasn’t shown the church to best effect but he has caught his children on a gnarled old tree. This must have been around 1929.


There’s Dad standing up tall and high with my aunt hanging on grimly rather lower down.

That tourist honeypot destination was not often visited by us. My dad preferred to find his own places, quiet and unspoilt by the masses. But we did visit over 60 years ago in 1954 when my dad decided it was cheaper to buy cards rather than take his own photos and here is the one of the church.


Hmm! It lacks the human interest of Grandad’s photo.

The sailing barge and the dredger

August 11, 2015

image002 Photos like this remind me of just how ancient I am. The scene is just off Newhaven. The year is 1954. I was five years old and so can remember scenes like this. Oh, I can also apologise for the rather poor quality photo.

Let’s start with that sailing barge.


It is just about to pass the end of the sea wall on the East sid eof Newhaven Harbour. I’d guess dad, who took the photo was on the much longer west pier.

The barge, presumably, is running on a motor for the sail is furled. But it definitely looks like a Thames sailing barge to me. So yes, I remember these vessels in service.

The other ship in the photo is a bucket dredger.


This dredger was called the Foremost Prince and I believe she worked, clearing the mud out of Newhaven Harbour, from 1947 for about forty years. So back in 1954 she (or should that be he as he was a Prince) was quite new. The idea was simple. Bucket scoops on a continuous chain dredged the sea bed and then tipped the mud into the hold. When full, ‘The Prince’ went out into the English Channel and dumped its load. My dad always reckoned it washed back into the harbour.

It certainly looks archaic now but yes, I remember it well.

Carol Singers

December 24, 2014

Respect for the ways of others has always been a feature of my family. That includes now, but I’m referring to my childhood family.

I would not have called my childhood home a Christian religious one. We were not church goers although we kids were bundled off to a Sunday School at the very local Friends Meeting House. But music was enjoyed and that always included church and religious music. And certainly we enjoyed a visit from the carol singers as Christmas approached. My dad, who had a good bass voice, often took part for our local ‘Ifield Association’ went carolling to raise funds for the good of the local community. I believe my sister also sang sometimes.

This photo, another from 1954 so 60 years ago, shows the singers outside our house.


Sad to say, I don’t have the names of the members of this group but they look to be having a good time. Dad would have been the photographer for this one and he did well to capture a sharp image. I wonder if he had some kind of flare. Certainly he had no flash gun.

I did like Christmas when it was simpler, much less commercial and not dominated by ‘how to be perfect’ TV shows. But of course, I was a young child then and most young kids don’t notice the stress that events cause parents. Perhaps they were running around like headless chickens just like so many do today.

Back in 1954

December 23, 2014

Christmas has real poignancy for me this year. For the first time in my life I face a Christmas with none of the people I grew up with. When I look back to childhood Christmases I have nobody to share memories with – except that on rare occasions – and usually when I was a bit older, we might have spent a day with my cousins and grandparents. My cousins are still alive.

But the day to day memories that might be shared with a parent or a sibling – they have gone – as far as a topic of conversation is concerned. I find it seriously daunting to be the senior member of my family; the head of three generations and with nobody older or wiser to turn to.

I am aware, of course, that I am not the only person in this situation. I can now recall that my dad and my gran both reached this situation. But it is only now that I am in it that I realise what an impact it has.

But let’s be positive. I have a wife (and I have known her since I was little more than a kid), I have children. I have grandchildren. I have cousins, nephews, nieces and even half siblings. We all have wider circles of friends – and some of my friends I have known for nigh on 60 years. And then I have a lovely collection of blog readers. Many are people I don’t know at all, but they feel like friends.

And I have memories, aided by a wonderful collection of photographs and here is one of them – a photo of a family group of children who were all at the same school in December 1954 – 60 years ago.


I am the somewhat toothless person on the left. The photo was taken by the school photographer. My mum must have known he was coming. I have no memory of normally having to wear a tie to school back then. In the middle is my sister who died back in September this year. Christmas without Paula will be odd this year. Actually she went through quite a long spell of being a real grouch at Christmas. ‘I’m not doing Christmas’, she’d say. ‘We’re not doing presents’, she’d add. And on Christmas day she’d drag her husband out for a walk where she’d meet other grouches who weren’t doing Christmas and declare these folks were the ones who had seen the light and were truly sensible. Just after Christmas and before New Year she’d phone us up and invite them to come and see us. They’d arrive with boxes full of gifts. These were nearly all second hand because Paula traded in collectibles. I have zero objection to second hand goods and gifts. In fact I’m all for it. And Paula always managed to find such appropriate things.

In the last few years she got less grouchy and started doing Christmas again. But alas, 2013 was her last one.

Having said that, compared with my brother, Robin, who is on the right in the photo she did wonderfully well for age. Robin died back in 1980 leaving a wife and two young kids. Robin and I were too close in age to be good friends as kids. I only really learned to love him when he left home. But we still had to spend childhood together – fighting and arguing as siblings do. I still miss him amazingly often. He has a grandson, who of course he never knew, who looks just like him.

I’d better finish this post by saying I feel extremely fortunate with my life. I had loving caring parents, siblings who grew to love one another, and I have had a lovely wife for more than 40 years now and great children and delightful grandchildren. Who, actually, could ask for more?

The Bowthorpe Cup

December 7, 2014

I don’t rate myself as a gardener but I have won trophies at shows in the past – often with a minimum of effort. I’ve won them for fruit and let’s face it, fruit, by and large, grows itself. The real skill is in finding (say) 5 of a kind of fruit in tip top condition and matching each other perfectly on the day of the show.

My childhood village held a flower show. I don’t know, for sure, when it started. I entered it as an adult and I still hold this trophy.


It is always so hard to photograph shiny things! I’ve had a go with the main information but it tends to be a reflection of my camera and hands!


There we see – it was awarded by the Ifield Association Horticultural Society and this was the challenge cup for section 4 and that, I can tell you, was the fruit section.

The cup had been presented to the association by Mr and Mrs J Bowthorpe


I have no idea who they were but the cup still bears their name – the Bowthorpe Cup.

It was first presented 60 years ago in 1954.


The first winner, back then was N Longley – Sir Norman Longley who ran quite a substantial building firm. J Izard, in brackets, was the name of his gardener. I knew Norman – a good chap who cared about people and places.

The other early winners, R S S Hebeler with gardener J Moon and C J Denham-Davis with L Prendergast were not known by me.

Winners with gardeners soon faded out – a sign of social change.

When we get round to the 1980s, my name appears. I won it in 1982, shared it in 1984 and then won it in 1985, 1986 and 1987. That was the final year of the show. It had been a big marquee event and the cost of a marquee could no longer be afforded. The flower show closed and so I still hold that trophy. The flower show was a part of August Bank Holiday fun in the village.

By rights, it should have been mine for that final year and then up for grabs by a future winner. I still don’t feel as though I own the trophy, but just have it on loan. Maybe I should offer it to a local museum in the area of old Ifield (or, indeed new Ifield for Crawley New Town was built around it).

Furlongs and the campsite

October 19, 2014

It was a couple of days after the funeral of my sister that we (my wife and I) visited Furlongs. It was an emotional visit for me because Furlongs was where we camped each year from 1954 for at least 15 years. A little ledge on the South Downs was, and remains, a very important place for me. I know I spent about 6 months of my life there, over those years. They were six summer months and six months which did a huge amount to form who I am. In fact it did much to form who we were as a family of which I am now the sole survivor. Actually, there are a couple of other family members who ‘camped’. One is my wife although she was a mere girlfriend back then. The other is my dad’s second wife. I won’t say that camp had quite such an impact on them but at least I can still share experiences with them.

And there are other survivors too. There’s a past boyfriend of my sister who spent some time with us one year and there are day visitors some of whom remain good friends of mine.

Anyway, this post is about my rather emotional return to the camp site we loved just those couple of days after that funeral.

We found a spot from where we could look down on ‘our’ ledge.


Sheep used to graze the field by day and that meant it was a smoother shorter grass sward generally with less shrubbery on the hillside beyond.

I, of course, made my way to the ledge.


And that’s me with our ‘classic’ view of Mount Caburn across the valley made by Glynde Reach. That view can just take me to a state of happiness as enjoyed by me as a child up to 60 years ago. I can point out changes but essentially, it looks very much the same.


I think my sister must have taken this 1954 picture. The four people I see in it are me, my mum, my dad and my brother.


There are no tents, of course, in 2014.

A zoom in on a passing train (a mile away in Glynde) reveals differences.


The most notable one would be the streetlamps along the main road. Back in the 50s and 60s it was a dark world at night. There was a spot where cars (occasional of course) came over Ranscombe Hill on the road where the headlights pointed straight at us at camp. For an instant it was possible to read a book by that light from a couple of miles away.

By the way, my dad attempted a photo of a train back in 1954.


Interestingly, 60 years on I can tell you this was a train going from London to Hastings without going in to Eastbourne. The make up of the carriages makes it clear to me.

This, then, was our ledge, where we camped each year and where I spent 6 months of my life.


I was pleased to find a September flowering scabious.


Another view of our camp ledge, this time from one of the arable fields.


Now Eric Ravilious produced a picture (Downs in Winter) from a similar spot which shows our ledge


I decided I’d match his 1934 picture with a 2014 Cambridge roller which was actually elsewhere in the same field. So the picture below is edited and has the roller added.


Well, the rollers have certainly got bigger in 80 years!


Eric Ravilious – July

July 30, 2014

Now I loved that June picture, featuring the farm where I spent childhood summer holidays and it was with some trepidation that I turned to July. I was late making the change for our sojourn in Cornwall meant we were away from home.

But I had no cause for worry. The July picture was of another favourite childhood haunt at Newhaven.


Here we see a ferry from Dieppe arriving and entering the inner harbour. There’s some artistic licence here for Eric has made that harbour entrance narrower than it was in my memory.  Also, his inner harbour wall appears to show the end of the outer breakwater. His ferry, I notice, has two funnels. This picture dates from 1936 but ferries like that had gone by the time I knew the area which started 60 years ago in 1954.

But however far from reality it is, I instantly recognise the components which make up Newhaven. In fact, here’s a photo that dad took back in 1954 showing a similar view.


That ferry was the Brighton and standing looking on are me, my brother and my mum. The lighthouse in the foreground of the Ravilious picture is the one behind us, the spectators.  The other lighthouse Eric shows is a dot in the distance on dad’s photo, right out on the end of the outer breakwater. It’s half a kilometre out to sea – much further out than the little light on the wooden jetty on the left. That’s clear in Eric’s painting and my dad’s photo. The reality is that the two lighthouses that the Ravilious ferry is passing between are almost a third of a mile apart.

I hope this doesn’t spoil the Ravilious picture for people. I think it is a fantastic, if slightly fanciful rendition of a scene I knew well. I love the picture.


Cave dwellers

June 28, 2014


Well of course, strictly these people weren’t cave dwellers. They were mere visitors and explorers. Being young, they probably weren’t aware of the dangers of rock falls as they discovered natural sea made caverns like this one.

The people are, from left to right, my brother, my sister and me. The year was 1954 and the location was what we loosely called West Beach at Newhaven in Sussex.

We’d have been at ‘camp’ based in the location shown yesterday. We’d have ridden bikes almost 8 miles from camp down to Newhaven and then taken a half mile stroll along the beach to find the rock pools and caves. There’d have been a picnic brought with us – simple sandwiches and maybe a slab of compressed dates to share amongst us. And at the end of a day of exploration we’d have the reverse journey – back to where we’d left the bikes and then that cycle ride back to camp.

Happy days! Happy memories of a way of life that vanished when the car arrived!

The Hunt on the Hill

June 7, 2014

I do not ask anyone to approve or disapprove of fox hunting. I guess I am basically a countryman and one who has kept poultry. My keeping of poultry was ended by foxes that ‘broke the rules’. Foxes at night were one thing, but when they came in the middle of the day I felt powerless. My poultry was carried away to feed a fox family.

Yet despite this I am not in favour of hunting. I can’t call the killing of animals sport. I can’t object to the killing of animals for food. I don’t think people should get pleasure from it.

But hunting used to take place and 60 years ago my dad caught (on camera) a bit of a hunt riding up the track just above our camp.


I suspect that with just three riders – and the one on the grey horse looks too small for it – these were youngsters just exercising the hounds.

I’m going to compare this picture with another one – a painting by Eric Ravilious.


I think, and so do other members of my family, that the track in this painting is the one the hunt is on in my dad’s photo. Eric has, of course, used some artistic freedom and perhaps exaggerated the height of the hills. We know there was a chalk pit alongside the track near the hill top. It doesn’t show in Dad’s photo. Of course, I absolutely love the painting which Ravilious just called ‘Chalk Paths’ with no location given.