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

©Jemverse

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

©Jemverse

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.

©Jemverse

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].

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

©Jemverse

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

©Jemverse

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

Malduppinne

Part of the ‘Past to Present’ series from Jemverse

'Malduppinne' as it was first called
in thirteen forty-seven
by grant from John le Pottere
to his wife in his succession
Its purpose now long lost to time
a museum now it hosts
in the oldest secular building that
the town of Shoreham boasts
From 'Malduppinne' to 'Marlipins'
this build of Caen stone
with flint-knapped chequered walls remains
the oldest one still known

©Jemverse

Photo – from a postcard in the author’s collection

[Although vaguely referred to as ‘The Chantry’ (as this postcard claims) this ancient building in Shoreham’s High Street probably dates back to the 12th century and is one of the oldest buildings erected and used for entirely secular purposes remaining in Europe. Now hosting the town’s museum, the earliest written reference to it is in a deed dated 1st August 1347 (20th year in the reign of Edward III) in which John le Pottere of New Shoreham bequeathes a stone-built corner tenement called ‘Malduppinne’ in the market place called ‘Otmarcat’ (oat market) to his wife Juliana and thereafter to their son Richard to hold for life. However, the building itself (certainly medieval) probably dates back to at least 1100 with a reconstruction in about 1300. It was definitely a builder’s storehouse in the 19th century as it was then occupied by Messrs Gates & son, a long-established Shoreham family with roots back to medieval times. One other thing is definite; it has never had anything in common with a ‘chantry’. That’s nothing more than whimsical fantasy].

The Lanes

Part of the ‘Past to Present’ series from Jemverse

Up at the top of Buckingham Road
the elms, mature, still stand
a reminder of the distant past
when the manor house stood grand
part of a bygone Shoreham
a remnant of 'The Lanes'
with triangle of trees and shrubs
is all that now remains

©Jemverse

Postcard – from the author’s collection

[The image on this postcard shows ‘The Lanes’ as they were in the early 1900s. A local Shoreham historian, Michael Norman, said the elms were planted by the Lord of the Manor as part of a considered plan to provide timber for shipbuilding. Others say that they were seeded during the Napoleonic wars to provide gunstocks for the army. All that remains now is an overgrown triangle of trees at the northern border of Buckingham and Old Shoreham roads].

Two Bridges

When in flight over Shoreham
a hundred years ago
two bridges you would see
'cross the river down below
The Norfolk and the railway
but no footbridge crossing yet
for the town and all its people
had that pleasure still to get

©Jemverse

Photo – from a postcard in the author’s collection

[This picture dates to before 1921 when a new footbridge was opened spanning the river to the bottom left where a group of people can been seen. Shoreham airport (from which the aeroplane here probably came) opened in June 1911, just eight years after the Wright brothers first ever manned flight in December 1903. Strictly speaking, Shoreham had three bridges when the picture was taken, but the third – the old toll bridge – is to the north and out of shot]

Tarmount Shepherds

Now where people park their cars
on tarmac for some shopping
once stood an open field where
you'd oft see sheep a-hopping
A shepherd's hut stood to the south
close to its southern border
fenced in with wooden latticework
to keep the sheep in order
On Tarmount Lane in Shoreham town
the shepherd's field you'd see
for many years with grazing
for the sheep that wandered free

©Jemverse

Photo – from a postcard in the author’s collection

[This picture, taken from the top of St Mary de Haura’s church tower, shows an early 20th century view of Shoreham looking east towards the chemical works on the beach and the harbour entrance. You can see the shepherd’s hut and field in the bottom left hand corner. It’s now a car-park.]

The silence of ancient walls

Beside old Railway Gardens this old flint wall has stood
built two hundred years ago but still it's looking good
And if its stones could talk and tell the history of the years
of Shoreham since the railway came of all those toils and tears
What a merry tale that would be for us who live
in this town beside the sea and what we wouldn't give
For history books are great to have but the interesting essence
can only come from something that has stood from past to present
So sadly we will never know for these old walls are still
and silent from the years they've seen as they forever will

©Jemverse

Photo – the old walkway, Railway Gardens, Shoreham, West Sussex – Jempics

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