Mapping the past

No.15 in the ‘past to present’ series from Jemverse

Found an old map in Emmaus
worn and dusty and old
thought to myself 'I'm having that'
went out of the shop with it sold

Familiar but different
there are things long gone away
a past the history books have claimed
from our quaint yesterday

And yet there's still a memory
from distant childhood time
places gone, remembered still
with part of them still mine


Photo -Jempics. Taken from the 1946 map itself. An original 182 Ordnance Survey of Sussex from 1933, it’s significant as it’s pre-Shoreham flyover (1970) – so there’s no blot on the landscape, pre-Beeching (1966) – so the whole of the old Guildford line is marked with all the now long-gone stations, and it’s immediately post-WWII – so the Brighton & Hove Municipal Airport at Shoreham is there but not marked as such. (Emmaus – btw – is a second-hand bric-a-brac and furniture store run by a homeless project).

The morning after the mourning

It's the morning after the mourning
the official period done
and though not forgetting Majesty
she's now radiant in the sun

Her long reign now is over
and with Phillip and the rest
she's Queen now where in heaven
everything is just the best

Long live now King Charles the third
a new era for our land
our only wish, continuance of 
his Mother's loving hand


Photo – Google images

[Queen Elizabeth II was queen of the UK and other Commonwealth realms from 6 February 1952 until her passing on 8 September 2022. Her reign of 70 years and 214 days is the longest of any British Monarch and the longest recorded of any female head of state in history. At the moment of her passing the throne accessioned immediately and without ceremony to her eldest son Charles, former Prince of Wales. At 73, he’s the oldest person ever to assume the British throne, a record previously held since 1830 when William IV acceded at age 64].

Two thousand years

Two thousand years of weathering
this column's stub has seen
in situ still in Sussex where
in all that time it's been
A testament to Roman skill
and craftsmanship to see
that though but just a stub remains
it's here and long will be
So, looking up to Bignor Hill
this ancient land so fair
I stood to ponder that a while
and in that moment share


Photo – column stump at Bignor Roman Villa, Sussex – Jempics

Four spans across the Adur

Part of the ‘Past to Present’ series from Jemverse

Four spans across the Adur
at its mouth at Shoreham town
on the road on into Lancing
at the foot of Sussex Down

Four spans of steel construction
admired for sixty years
'til Norfolk Bridge mark II's demise
'midst many local tears

Four spans across the Adur
not forgotten yet now lost
to progress and the march of time
no matter what the cost


Photo – from a postcard in the author’s collection – Jempics

[The second Norfolk Bridge in Shoreham was opened on 4th July 1923 by Lord Leconfield. A four-span cantilever design, it was initially a toll bridge until 1927. It was replaced the third (and present) Norfolk bridge in 1987].

See also ‘Of horses and lions‘ (posted here in July)

Youth and music

Part of the ‘Past to Present’ series from Jemverse

Saturdays in the seventies
and me in middle teens
caught the bus oft into Brighton
forty-nine from Southwick Green
then went up to the Clock Tower
through the door and up the stairs
to listen to the music long
on cushions sprawled up there
Virgin Records, ah those halcyon days
for some a misspent youth
but the music that I heard has brought
a lifetime hence of truth


Photo – from one in the authors’ collection

[Virgin Records moved into the building on the corners of North and Queens Roads by Brighton’s Clock Tower early in 1973. Next door was the old Regents Cinema, by then empty and disused. Both buildings were demolished in 1974 to make way for a new building now housing Boots the Chemist. Curved and on the corner, Virgin Records (the second in the country after London’s Oxford Street branch) was a three-quarters circle with a further semi-circle on a raised level behind. This raised level was covered with floor cushions with headphones for private listening. For a return fare of 20p I could take the 49 bus from the Green in Southwick (where I lived at the time) into Brighton where most Saturday mornings were spent lounging on Virgin’s listening floor cushions simply soaking up the sounds].

The kissing gate

Part of the ‘past to present’ series from Jemverse

Parallel to Oxen Avenue
the ancient trackway lay
from Mill Lane to Upper Shoreham
as a pedestrian way
Elm trees at its southern end
stood by the kissing gate
which though the trackway is still there
has long since met its fate


Photo – from a postcard in the author’s collection

[The picture of the kissing gate in this postcard dates to around 1900. Both the elm trees and the gate have long gone now but the pathway remains beside the old flintstone wall just visible in the bottom right. A ‘kissing gate’ allows pedestrian passage but prevents large animals like horses and cattle from passing. As only one person can pass at a time, tradition has it that a kiss was required as right of passage when a girl followed a boy (or a boy a girl)].

Of horses and lions

Part of the ‘Past to Present’ series from Jemverse

When the Norfolk Bridge first opened
the High Constable had the key
for the old toll bridge in deference
in eighteen thirty-three
The Duke of Norfolk he was present
for a procession up the street
'neath both surmounting arches
and the horse and lion's seat
Designed by W Tierney Clarke
it was the first of three
to bear the name of 'Norfolk Bridge'
in Shoreham by the sea.


Photo – from a postcard in the author’s collection

[The first Norfolk Bridge (pictured here) was opened by the Duke of Norfolk on May 1st 1833. Old Shoreham bridge (the present Old Toll Bridge) was locked up by the High Constable of the town for the grand opening of the new bridge following a procession up the High Street. The lion and horse surmounting the arches and carrying the chains on which the bridge was suspended represent the crests of the duke whose name it bears. When the second Norfolk Bridge was opened in 1923, these stone statues were winched down and re-erected at Arundel Castle, the Sussex seat of the duke. The third (and current) Norfolk Bridge was opened in 1987].

The old crab house

Part of the ‘past to present’ series from Jemverse

Now long gone from the harbour
demolished years ago
the Old Crab Inn as once it was
is nestled there below
alongside the old shingle beach
beneath the tunnelled hill
at the bottom end of Gardener Road
for halcyon days to fill


Photo – from a postcard in the author’s collection

[The old Crab House, originally the ‘Crab Inn’ was built on a shingle beach-fronted spit of land at the base of the cliff bordering Shoreham Harbour in West Sussex, UK. Demolished in the 1940’s, the land adjacent to it housed a Canadian army encampment, billeted there at the beginning of the second world war to man two ‘Bofer’ anti-aircraft guns positioned on the cliff-head behind the house. The ‘tunnelled hill’ reference relates to a number of old smugglers tunnels built below the cliffs in this area].

Old Buckingham walls

Part of the ‘past to present’ series from Jemverse

As a boy I used to play there
inside the burnt out walls
for hide n seek and other games
within its hallowed halls
once we ventured to the basement
down dark and dusty stair
oblivious to danger
with innocence to dare
But now all these years later
it is a block of flats
though with outer walls remaining
preserved and still intact


Photo – the east & south elevations of the old Buckingham House today – Jempics

[The original Buckingham House was built in 1655 but extensively remodelled in 1808. When its last owner passed away in 1905 it stood empty until 1910 when dry rot and fire destroyed it. The remains were in ruins until 1962/63 when plans for the new and existing Woodview Court were proposed within its north and west elevations. Building of the new flats was completed in the late 1960s, the east and south elevations preserved as a part of the planning permission granted].

The last West Pier II

Part of the ‘Past to Present’ series from Jemverse

I found it on the high tide line
after a night of fire
the Grand Old Lady of the sea
destroyed by spite and ire
Yet carried on an ebbing tide
along the coast to me
a memory of those boards I trod
now rescued from the sea
So though her grandeur is no more
complete her fall from grace
Brighton's West Pier always will
in history have her place


Photo – Jempics – Brighton’s closed West Pier, early 1980’s (pre fires).

On 28 March 2003 the pavilion at the end of the derelict West Pier in Brighton caught fire. Always presumed to have been the work of arsonists, yet never proven, it was still the final death knell for the grand old lady. Opened back in 1866 and surviving two world wars, the pier was sadly closed to the public in 1975. However, I still have fond memories of walking its promenade decks back in the 60s and early 70s. Who knows, I could have trodden the very board fragment I rescued and which now has pride of place in my back garden.

The pier head, summer 2002
My salvaged board fragment

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