Posts Tagged ‘Crawley’

Cigs and Veps at Crawley

August 3, 2016

1998 was not, for me, a good time on the railways of Britain but I still took the odd photo. Here we see my old home town of Crawley in Sussex and just arriving at the station is a former 4-Cig in the hideous livery that Connex used back then.


Back in the 1960s the Cigs had replaced my much loved 6-Puls and 6-Pans. They had been built in the 1930s. By 1998 these Cigs were life expired and got castigated as ‘slam doors’. They were, and perhaps rightly, not deemed suitable for the 21st century.

My luck was in as two trains passed at Crawley.image004

On the left we see the back of the Cig train. These had been built to be mainline express trains and had the benefit of big picture windows. On the right a stopping train made up of a 4-Vep is arriving. These were pretty hideous items from day one – which was after the Cigs were built. These had a door to every seating bay to get people on and off quickly and the seats were narrow. Whereas the Cig had two seats each side of the central corridor the Veps had two seats on one side and three on the other. They were built to replace the old stopping electric units of various kinds. Their one virtue was that they were gangwayed throughout the train so you could get on and then find a seat.

These photos were amongst my earliest digital pictures. I was in possession of a very basic digital camera in 1998.


Go tell Aunt Mercy

June 20, 2015

The old song actually is ‘Go tell Aunt Rody that the old grey goose is dead’. As a child, I tended to swap Mercy in and Rody out because I had an Aunt Mercy, or rather a Great Aunt Mercy. We used to see her quite often because she lived quite near us.

From the old photos we think Aunt Mercy was fond of family for in those days, close on 100 years ago, when money was short, we seem to see her quite often in family photos.

This one was taken close by my grandparents’ flat in Bexhill. I can recognise the terrace in the background as those flats – where dad was born. My grandfather would have been the photographer. I only have a negative.


Mercy was the older sister of my Grandad. She was born in 1878 so was best part a dozen years older than my grandfather. She married George Ernest Edwards in 1903 and had five children who survived and we see the four youngest ones here. Hilda, who stands next to her mother, was born in 1905 and in front we have John, born 1914, Ruth, born 1911 and George born 1907. From that we take it that the photo dates from the early 1920s

I knew the two girls, albeit as older women. They were my dad’s cousins and they lived only three or four miles from us. I’m not sure I ever met the boys and I’d still like to know more about them.


January 20, 2015

My Dad aged 0 to 10

I am well blessed with photos of my father. My grandparents were, I am assured, always short of money but photos were taken. Of course these were not in the huge numbers taken today. But there are enough to portray the change from baby to boy and onto being a young man and more on into adulthood and old age.

Let’s just look at early days here.

Dad was born in 1919. No doubt this was approximately nine months after his dad returned from World War One service.


This is an early photo with dad just a few months old.

Dad was born and raised in Bexhill so the seaside was always an available attraction. Here we see him as about a two year old with his spade and ready to dig.


At a similar age dad had a close encounter with a black swan. This must have been in the Egerton Park in Bexhill.


The next photo has been captioned by my dad.


His Aunt Mercy lived on Malthouse Road in Crawley.


This collection was taken when Harry stayed with Aunt Nellie. Aunt Nellie at Firle seemed to have been his venue for a summer break.

Another photo at Firle.


I think there are amazing family likenesses here with grandchildren and great grandchildren my dad never knew.

Let’s finish with Harry the schoolboy in 1928.


So there we have just a few photos to cover the first ten years of Dad’s life. There are many more.

In the back garden

April 20, 2014

Yesterday we looked at a picture taken in the back garden of my Great Aunt Mercy which was in Crawley in Sussex. Today we are looking at the back garden from my childhood. It is forty years newer than yesterday’s picture.


The houses we see were not ours. We see next door, with the shed where Perce and Min lived. The middle one of that terrace of three changed hands quite often, but the end one had two spinster ladies – Alice and Beatrice Rapley who were known by us as Auntie A and Auntie B.

The garden bears a resemblance to Great Aunt Mercy’s, with the galvanised dustbin and some junk. There are the remains of the family swing although we children were all teenaged, or nearly so, by then so it probably had ceased to be used.

And now to the people.

We start, on the left, with my brother. He was twenty months older than me. We were always different and through childhood we didn’t make good playmates. I learned to love him after he left home and he became a really good friend until his sad death at the age of 33. Then there is me, looking rather smart in shirt and tie. I seldom wear one of them these days. But I had spent the first twelve years of my life never having new clothes and at about this time I had got my first brand new set of apparel – including a tie. By heck, I was going to wear it.

My sister comes next she’d have been at that age where parents know nothing and are a total embarrassment. I recall thinking, though, that she looked good in that skirt.

Then comes my dad, the other link between yesterday’s and today’s photos. After a war disrupted younger life, he had not long had a job which allowed us some luxuries in life.

The lady pointing out something is Geppa who, despite the very French sounding surname of Gerard, was German. She was the wife of Herman who had been a prisoner of war in this country – one of those German prisoners who became friendly with our family. Herman must have taken this photo.

Finally, we have my mum, enjoying life in that short period when the financial struggle was more or less over, and before she was diagnosed with cancer.

My dad’s fruit bushes are in the foreground. Having been a commuter to London – and he still was in part, he had decided that he should grow crops that were low in time need and fruit bushes fitted the bill.

Dad with Cousins?

April 19, 2014

Well I think it is Dad. The little lad in the front of this trio has a look of my father as a boy.


But all I have is a negative, so I can’t be certain.

The location, I am fairly sure, is At Great Aunt mercy’s house which was in Malthouse Road in Crawley and I imagine the girl and boy behind are two of her children. I’d guess at them being her youngest two. Ethel Ruth Edwards (known as Ruth) was born in 1911 and John Edwards was born in 1914. My dad was born in 1919.

The picture is full of the period. The clothes, of course, but also things like the galvanised wash bowl hanging on the fence and the galvanised dustbin. I know Mercy and her husband Ernest kept hens. Maybe the cage like structure next to the wash bowl was their night quarters – or perhaps they kept cage birds.

Ruth Edwards married Bert Barrett in 1931. They had three children.

John Edwards had a wife called Gladys and I think they had three children.

The Childhood Garden

March 15, 2014

Today I am looking at the backdrop for much of my childhood – the little garden at our house in Ifield.

Ifield had originally been a village to the west of the little town of Crawley but by the time of this photo – 1955 – it was rapidly becoming a part of Crawley New Town. It still remains on the edge of the town/


My dad has taken this photo from the bedroom window. He has placed my mum in the photo, looking over the garden.

Let’s start with the crazy paving – irregular shaped slabs of Yorkshire stone. This had been purchased at a house clearance sale which I have memories of. I dare say it was bought cheaply. The difficulties of transport and the inconvenience of laying it must have kept the price down to something we could afford. I have no idea how dad moved it all. Neither do I remember what covered the yard beforehand. But I know my dad was delighted with his purchase and even took it up and moved it when a garage was built and then moved it to a new house when he moved across the road.

On the left, the open window under a lean-to roof was our bathroom. Originally it had been an outhouse but conversions were made. I remember that window being put in. I’m sure Perce, our next door neighbour, helped. That’s odd, for he was a plumber.

Down the garden there is a structure that looks like a well head. It isn’t and never was. Seemingly there were a lot of bricks scattered about and dad gathered them up and made a garden feature. I think of it as growing nasturtiums. This was something I rather approved of for I liked the flavour. My dad tended to go in for dual purpose plants – both pretty and functional. After our mock well head was made, similar structures popped up in other gardens in the street.

In my memory, beyond the ‘well’ there was a rough area, left available for small boys to enjoy. We dug holes, made dens, played jumping games and took our dinky toys out to drive around roadways in the dirt.

Dad had decided that soft fruit was the thing to grow in the garden – pretty but functional. There were strawberries, gooseberries, red and black currants and raspberries. These could of course be eaten fresh but could also be preserved by jamming or bottling. My mum did both and with luck we had fruit from the garden for much of the year. We also had a peach tree which grew up the house wall. It is those twigs at the extreme left and also a plum tree near the bottom of the garden. My brother and I used to enjoy climbing in that tree.

Near that plum tree, and visible to me in the photo, were dad’s bees. Again, they were multi-purpose. They provided honey and also ensured a good set on the fruit bushes and trees.

Just behind our back hedge there was ‘the factory’. This small works was a part of British Manufactured Bearings. They had a radio and when on it was tuned to the Light Programme. How I loved the sounds of ‘Music while you Work’ which came through each morning and afternoon. But just what work the people did I never really knew.

That back garden was my back garden from 1949 until I left home. That, I could say, was in stages between 1967 and 1970.

George Peirce

March 11, 2014

Meet the Relative

Helen Peirce was my great great grandmother and I have introduced you to her already on this blog (click here for a reminder).

Helen had a younger brother called George who was born in 1833. George would have been my great great great uncle. I never knew him, of course.

But aspects of his life make him interesting to me. First of all, there’s his birthplace. I think of my ancestors as being East Sussex people through and through. Great Great Granny Helen, for example, was born in Newick in 1829 and by the time of the first ‘genealogy’ census in 1841 that was where they lived. But Helen must have spent a part of her childhood in West Sussex for in 1833, George was born in Findon and so, too, was his younger sister, Elizabeth. By the time John was born, in 1837, the family were back in Newick, That Findon birthplace fascinates me – not least because it is a lovely village.

Findon has a privately maintained and delightful web Page at was there I found this extract related to the school in 1836. I daresay ancestor Helen was a pupil then.

In the Spring of 1836, Findon was suddenly hit by an extremely hard frost at night and all the ponds were completely frozen over.   It was remarkable weather for the time of year.   This was followed by high winds on May Day which ruined the village festivities.  The poor school children ventured out as planned.  They were beautifully decked with their May garlands but were taken by the cruel gusts and battered and blown all over the place.  The celebrations in 1836 were quite ruined for the younger generation of Findon. 

George would probably have been a bit young to take this in.

George also fascinates me because at the time of the 1871 census he lived in Crawley which was my home throughout most of my childhood. His address was Clappers Cottages. I have not been able to locate these cottages.

By then George, an agricultural labourer, was married and had six of his seven children. It was to be his last census for he died at the age of 43 on 11th August 1876. He still lived in Crawley. I believe it was Tony and Gill in Australia who sent me a digital copy of a memorial card for George.


For the record, his widow, Martha and children continued to live in Crawley (more particularly Ifield) until after the 1881 census.

A bus at Three Bridges

March 10, 2014

I’ve said before, I was never really a bus nerd but even so, some old vehicles caught my eye. I’d go so far as to say I liked the old London Transport RT double deckers. I preferred them to the more modern Routemasters. Ideally I liked them in the green livery of the country services rather than the red of the London buses. But when I saw a red RT out at Three Bridges (a part of Crawley), I had to snap a photo of it.


This isn’t any old RT bus. It is an RTW or widened version. It may have meant that buses of the size of Routemasters were coming to Crawley for this old bus was equipped with L plates and was being used for driver training.

The photo dates from 1969. The buses date from around 1949.


Crawley, Hampshire

October 11, 2013

My home town, for most of childhood became Crawley in Sussex. I say became, because Crawley grew as the New Town was built and our little village of Ifield became a part of the much larger town.

But there is another, smaller Crawley, not far from Winchester in Hampshire. We used to pass quite close to the place quite frequently.

And then it became a place with genealogy interest. My wife’s great great great grandfather was Nicholas Lanfear. We can only imagine he was a rather restless character from the limited information we have.

‘He was born about 1795 but his place of birth and parents remain a mystery.  He was working in Crawley, Hampshire in about 1808 (from a settlement examination).  He married Mary Limbrick at Gloucester in 1818.’

With that in mind, back in 2003 we deviated from the main road and went into Crawley, Hampshire. These days it seems a grand sort of place. You’d think the people were definitely pretty prosperous. Nicholas, we know, was a hurdle maker and he probably was in and out of work and living on, or more probably below, the breadline.

We weren’t sure what, if anything the Nicholas of 1808 would have recognised 200 years later. Perhaps it might have been the church.


There we have an idyllic, peaceful, rural English scene

Of course, we don’t know if Nicholas was a church goer. It certainly doesn’t seem he was baptised here.

We have looked at the story of his transportation to Australia earlier on this blog (click here).

The Old Crocks

September 14, 2013

Or as I should say, the veteran cars.

When I was a child it was less than a mile’s walk to go and see the veteran cars on their rally from London to Brighton. It took place on the first Sunday in November.

It still does, but it has been re-routed and goes past my sister’s house. We saw a good collection of cars back in 2002.


Three in one – there’s a good start!


The new overtakes the 1904 version.


The weather was awful, but then it was, as always, November.


This one dates from 1895.

And so does this one.


Looks like the driver is texting someone. Perhaps it wasn’t a criminal offence back then.

A final picture gives me some steam. This is an 1899 steam car.