The Seaside

Memories of going to Climping

CXL 808, the only car registration I have ever been able to remember.

It belonged to the first family car my father bought after the war in about 1947. The car was a 1936 two-door Morris 8, black with blue sides. To reach the amazing speed of 40mph was a thrilling experience for my brother and me, urging the car on as we gazed at the needle's slow progress on the speedometer. I think of our travels in that car a great deal but particularly so when I go down to the sea at Climping, and park by the same flint wall that was there all those years ago when we would come down all the way from Twickenham for the day, as a treat in the summer holidays - probably our only sight of the sea for another year. Little did I know at the time that, later in life, I would have 40 years near that sea which I was then so sad to leave when it was time to go home.

Father's Morris 8
That's me in the back seat!

The journey down took about two and a half hours and was a worrying time particularly as we neared Bury Hill. In those days the hill was not the race track of today but a winding road, the start of which is still visible at Bury by the Nursery. My father would start to get very anxious as we approached, fearful of getting behind a lorry and not "having a good run at it". Picking up on the stress levels I used to get on the floor of the car under the blanket, hands over ears, and remain there until my brother told me we had made it. I believe the car only had three forward gears and no synchromesh on the change into bottom gear, so my father's worries were probably well justified. Matters were not helped one year when he accidentally changed into reverse!

Once the climb was accomplished I emerged from my retreat knowing that we would soon be there, only downhill all the way, and opening the window and breathing fresh air I was always conviinced that I could already smell the sea. We would sometimes stop by the side of the road to let the car (and ourselves) recover. The left hand side then was dense woodland, there was no glimpse of the beautiful view towards Houghton and Amberley which we marvel at today. I suppose then we ran down the hill towards Arundel, down Ford Road to our destination, and pulled up beside the flint wall on the left. We couldn't wait to climb out of our back seats and rush down to the shore and the magic of THE SEASIDE, which was such a rare treat in those days when families couldn't necessarily afford holidays. We were lucky even to have a car in which we could go out for picnics at the weekends and rare trips to the coast.

It is difficult to comprehend how much things have changed in my lifetime when I cross the current congestion of the A259 to go down Climping Street and discover the same flint wall that I touched so reverently 70 years ago!

Elisabeth Sturt
July 2018

(Originally published in Yapton News, July 2018)