Posts Tagged ‘Ifield’


September 22, 2016

From my childhood home in Ifield in Sussex to a village called Crosshill in Ayrshire, Scotland is  a road journey of 435 miles which the Automobile Association estimate would take seven and a quarter hours of continuous driving. Yet my childhood home was called Crosshill and was named after this village. My home was one of a pair of semi-detached homes. The other was called Straiton and that is named after the neighbouring village to Crosshill.

When returning home from a recent holiday in Scotland there was an opportunity to visit Crosshill in Ayrshire and see just what my old home had been named after.

Like many a Scottish village it is quite an attractive place.


Here we have some of the main street and just opposite here there is a Post Office and store where I was allowed to copy an old photo they had hanging up.image004This photo, to judge by the car, dates from my childhood era.

We also had it pointed out to us where we could see more photos from the past.


The square had a war memorial and of course, it still does.


This is King Street in 1913 – a dozen or so years after my home was built.image010A similar view now.


And this was my childhood home – the right half of the pair. The left half is Straiton.


Sussex County Magazine

June 6, 2016

My dad started taking the Sussex County Magazine in 1948 and continued until that version ceased publication in 1956. If he got a whole year, he had them bound into one book with one index. I have these and also the ones that never were bound – a few from 1948 and 1955 onwards. These have their front covers on which I think make them more attractive.

And this one would really have excited us when it was delivered through our front door for it depicts our village. It dates from January 1955.


That’s the Plough Inn in Ifield. Ifield Street which runs off to the left leads to the church. On the right, under the spreading tree was an old blacksmith’s smithy. Just outside was the iron disc on which tyres were fitted to wooden wheels. It’s still there and so is The Plough.


Actually, it is remarkably the same considering 60 years and the growth of Crawley in that time.

But back to the magazine and its headline for what was inside – Old barrel organs at Sussex churches. Amongst those depicted is the one at Piddinghoe.

image006My dad must have remembered this article for when opportunity arose we went to see this barrel organ. I recall winding the handle and seeing how it worked – changing the hymn by a small movement of the barrel. Yet I can’t have heard anything for this was a pipe organ and the pipes were missing. Memory plays tricks for I’d have sworn we made music on that organ.

I still get much enjoyment looking at these magazines about my birth and childhood county.

Ifield – Then and Now

April 5, 2016

This was the street on which I was brought up. My family moved to a house well down this street when I was less than a year old. It was still the 1940s!

This postcard has been seen before on this blog. It was posted in 1921 and I believe changes had been made between then and my earliest memories.


Most notably, the left hand side of the road as we look at it had a pavement. But other than that this was the street I knew from my earliest times. The road is called Ifield Green. The one heading off to the right is called Langley Lane. I’d have known most of the people who lived in any house that can be seen in that photo.

Now I still have relatives who live along that street so I still visit it. They live in a house that wasn’t built in my early memories. I remember it being built. On one of my visits (actually back in 2009 I took this photo.

image003There often seems to be much more in the way of greenery – trees and shrubs these days. Houses that used to be visible are now hidden. There are now pavements on both sides. There’s an ugly concrete street lamp.

The large house on the left is clearly the same and there is still a hedge on the left around allotments.  Speed humps have been put in the road and whilst it might still look quite quiet it is actually a busy road. Down at the far end of the picture there is still the village shop. There is also a pub not far past the big house. What was open land, just past Langley Lane, now has a row of large detached houses. They are set back a little and are hidden by hedge and trees.

I can just make out the bus stop shelter which I recall being built. It is near the white van.

As a child I could play in the street but that changed in the mid 1950s when the New Town of Crawley was being built and particularly when Gatwick Airport was under construction. That major project led to what seemed like an endless stream of lorries carrying spoil away from the site trundling along our little road.

You can see more of my village street by clicking here.

The Quarter Mile Field

March 26, 2016

My dad died in November 1996. Ten years on we had a family get together and took a walk that Dad would have taken many a time.

And here’s a group of us setting off.


I can recognise siblings, children nieces, wife, cousin, great nephew etc in that photo. I took it so I’m not in it.

The walk was from (more or less) my childhood home and it took us to the Quarter Mile Field.

image004This field is said to be a quarter of a mile long. And that is about right. In my young days it had always been pasture but now it has come under the plough. Of course, in animal drawn plough days the field was too long. A furlong – the length taken between rests for a horse plough, is an eighth of a mile.

Here are some of the men folk traversing ‘the quarter mile’.

image006Twenty years will have passed since Dad’s death this year. Maybe time to mark it again.

The news – 60 years ago

January 28, 2016

60 years ago! Where does the time go!

This is local news and concerns my then home village of Ifield and a children’s party in 1956.


I don’t recognise me in the photo but I dare say I was amongst the 92 children present.

The event was organised by Ifield Association and my dad was heavily involved with that. Ifield had been a small village community but it had become a part of Crawley New Town and my dad was keen to get the new arrivals involved in community life. This was obviously a part of that process.

Little Deerswood School, where the tea was held, had been the village school, but with the influx of new arrivals it wasn’t big enough and new schools were built. Little Deerswood became a special school and is now a nursing home.

We youngsters were already well integrated at school. My friends were a mixed bunch and some lived in old Ifield but most were incomers. I had many good friends who were Londoners but I recall a lad from Birmingham and a Scottish lad from Arbroath who were good mates of mine.

I suppose it was inevitable that many old Ifield people resented the arrival of the new, with houses (not to mention shops, schools and even churches) built on the formerly open land. For me, though, the New Town provided opportunities in both friendship and education. During my student days there was never a shortage of holiday work so by and large it served me well.

Having said that, I much prefer the rural area I now live in in Wiltshire.

The Auctioneer

January 22, 2016

I think of myself as a fairly quiet and retiring sort of chap, but sometimes you discover unexpected things about yourself. One thing I discovered was that I was quite happy to make a complete ass of myself, in public, by being an auctioneer. I have no training in this and wouldn’t want to do it at a ‘real’ auction with valuable lots. But one that crops up on a yearly basis is the ‘after the flower show’ auction when unwanted produce is left to help raise funds for the organisation.

I have been doing this, at one show or another, for about 30 years now and people still expect me to do it and folks seem to enjoy it, so I suppose I do OK.

This photo dates back to 1987.


This was the Ifield Flower Show. Ifield had been my home village as a youngster but by 1987 I had been a Wiltshireman for 17 years. The Ifield show was still a marquee affair and that was to prove its downfall. Hiring the marquee just proved to be too expensive. This auction was really the last ever action at an Ifield Flower Show for this was its final year.

I’m the chap standing on the ‘rostrum’ to give me height. I have a good range of flowers to auction, but at the time I seem to be showing the bidders a plate. Maybe it had blackberries, or perhaps some fudge on it

Almost inevitably, for I was no longer a local, I don’t know who the bidders were.  I had (and still have) family in the area and the flower show was always a good gathering of the clans. But I don’t see them there.

I ought to tell you my worst howler at a charity auction I was taking. One of the objects I had to auction was a loo seat and I was finding it hard to get a starting bid. I’d worked down to what I thought was an absurdly low starting figure and still had no takers so in desperation I asked, ‘Come on! Who’ll put me in?’ There was a pause and then a room full of people started laughing. Well it was a toilet seat I’d invited people to put me in. Needless to say it got quite a good price after that.


Skipping Sister

December 8, 2015

I’m looking back 60 years here – to 1955. We have a picture of my sister skipping on Ifield Green.


My sister died last year. She just made it to her three score years and ten.

Back in 1955 Ifield Green was unfenced from surrounding roads which, of course, were almost devoid of motorised traffic. It made a lovely playground for youngsters, offering the space a small cottage garden didn’t have. A young girl could skip across the field to her heart’s content. The green was common land. It belonged to its community.

These days the green is still there but has been suburbanised and organised – like so much of life for children.

People looking at the photo can hardly fail to notice the industrial building with the big chimney behind sister. Yes, it had been involved in rural industry for this was the steam powered corn mill in Ifield. Just behind this view of that mill there stood the remains of a roundhouse which had been at the bottom of a windmill and by this time the steam mill was joining it in a state of dereliction.

I recall feeling really quite sad when the chimney was demolished although it probably was unsafe. The steam engine mechanism was preserved and for many a year was on display in London’s Science Museum although I believe it may be in Germany now.

The building, though, was resurrected and became the headquarters of the local Nautical Training Corps. I have no idea what function it serves now.

I suspect, and indeed hope, all children think they lived through the golden age for childhood. I am 100% certain that I did. We regarded the world and our community as safe and secure, we were free spirits who could roam at will. We met and chatted with adults we knew. They weren’t a threat to us. Life was a happy and glorious adventure – full of fun and the love of a family.

My skipping sister just seems to catch that happy spirit.

The Village where no bread is sold

September 17, 2015

My childhood street in an old postcard

We have seen my childhood street before. I still visit it because family still live there, albeit not in the same house so I have shown fairly recent photos and others from my childhood. This postcard is older for it was posted, I believe, in 1921.


It is captioned Ifield Village and Ifield is now rather subsumed into Crawley although something of a village atmosphere lingers on.

Despite being long before my birth, it looks familiar. The lane leading off on the right is Langley Lane and the gate opposite it on the left leads into allotments which are still there. The difference from my childhood days is that the left side of the road had a pavement all along it. Nowadays there are pavements on both sides and parked cars clog up the road.

The large house on the left still stands. I had a friend who lived there. My own house was at the far end of the street on the right hand side.


Yes, it is in amongst that group.

Actually, it is the back of the card, sent by and to people unknown to me, which adds interest.


It has two postmarks and neither of them are clear. But the message is one to savour, particularly this bit.


This is a view of a village where no bread is sold.

It wasn’t so in my childhood. We had a village shop and it sold bread!

Dad, the thespian

July 30, 2015

My dad may not have seemed a likely actor, but he did take part in performances put on by our local amateur dramatics group which was run under the auspices of the Ifield Association.

Such performances always got local press coverage. A reporter/photographer would appear, usually at a dress rehearsal and collect cast names and parts. There may even have been a critic at a performance to write up a report.

Those, of course, were the days when simple and tolerably happy news was enough to sell a newspaper.

Here is one such photo as captioned by my dad.


The information is all there. The play was called ‘Where three ways meet’ and was performed in May 1953 at St Margaret’s Hall. I know nothing about the play but I do know some of the presentations were written ‘in house’.

My dad, HGF, is the policeman. Other performers, all known to me although I’d have been sub five at the time, were Ron Hoad, Bill Jupp, Maureen Yeates and Mary Butler.

I have to say that what I remember most was being able to play at being a policeman, using that helmet. Great fun!

And it is pleasing to have happy memories, although scary that they date from more than 60 years ago!

Ifield Church

May 4, 2015

For virtually all of my childhood I lived in Ifield in Sussex. I was there to see it grow from a village into a neighbourhood of Crawley New Town. I am glad not to be there for all sorts of reasons now, one of which is the threat to the place from a possible second runway at Gatwick Airport.

Throughout the 65 years in which I knew Ifield (and I still have close relatives living there) much has actually remained unchanged but today, because I have a postcard, let’s look at St Margaret’s Church.


This card of the old building dates from 1906 but is still instantly recognisable.

I have to say the church was not important in my childhood. We also had a Quaker meeting house in the village and I was sent off there for Sunday school. It was actually nearer to home than the church and could be reached without any need to cross a road. And my parents were fully in favour of the pacifism and egalitarian side of that movement.

However, Dad had a good bass voice and used to sing and I recall him taking a leading role in ‘The Messiah’ when it was put on in the church.

My sister actually got married in Ifield Church as well.

And recently I discovered my dad had a baby cousin buried in the churchyard as well. Dad’s cousin Mary joined, amongst many others, Mark Lemon who was the founder of the Punch magazine.

This is not a family card. I think my sister gave it to me having purchased it but I’ll show the message anyway.


It was posted in Chichester on 14th April 1906 to a Miss Ayling in Haywards heath from her sister ‘Nance’. I have no idea who these people were but it reads as though they were having a good get together for Easter. Easter day 1906 was the 15th April in 1906. How lovely for them.