Review of Meetings 2004

January - October

The Yapton & Ford Local History Group has had a busy year. We meet once a month in the village hall where a guest speaker entertains and informs about local and social history. Recently, we have had a wide range of speakers on diverse subjects ranging from "The Interpretation of Tithe Maps" to the "History of Recorded Sound".

In June, we took part in the Bognor Regis Festival of Local History presenting an exhibition of local history with displays, photographs, maps and a slide show. Club members were on hand to explain the displays and hopefully pass on some of their knowledge and enthusiasm for the rich heritage we have in our village.

Over 200 people visited the exhibition during the day, coming not just from Yapton but also from as far away as Chichester and Worthing! Some took the opportunity to try and discover the history of their house or to learn about the industrial heritage of the village. The most popular expression heard during the afternoon was, "Well I never knew that!".

In August, we were pleased to help co-ordinate the return of "Peggy" the steam traction engine — 100 years ago to the day she was first delivered to John Sparks Engineers. Many of you will be familiar with the name John Sparks who was the main employer in Yapton between 1860 and 1924. His close association with Yapton is reflected in the names of many of the roads and buildings in the village ("Foundry Road" and "Holkham Cottages" being just two of many examples). The Co-op Store used to be Sparks' repair shop and blacksmiths and the gable wall of the building shows where a high arch (see picture below) was built to enable traction engines with tall chimneys to enter the building.

There is no doubt that without the presence of Sparks Engineers, Yapton would not be the thriving village it is today.

G Westcott
November 2004


November - December

At the November meeting of the Yapton & Ford Local History Group, we were pleased to again welcome Dr. Andrew Foster of University College Chichester. We really are very well blessed in West Sussex with both the quantity and the quality of local and genealogical history we have in the county. Apart from having the County Records Office in nearby Chichester, we have Worthing and Crawley public libraries with their vast collections of local history records. These are the places most people will be aware of, but Andrew was able also to cite a good many others whose records could provide the missing link in your historical research. These range from the College’s own library to the libraries at Arundel Castle, West Dean College and others. Did you know there’s even a very good historical library within Chichester Cathedral?

Also, an ever-increasing amount of information is being made available on the Internet by both national initiatives (e.g. The National Archives) and locally (e.g. the collection of photographs from West Sussex Past). For anyone who is interested in researching the history of their house or their ancestors, you really are in the right place!

Dominic Andrews from Sussex Finds was guest speaker at our December meeting on the subject of Archaeological Reconstruction Art. Dominic is keen to bring history to life and rather than keeping it as a boring list of facts and dates, he has combined his formal background in archaeology with his talent for art. Using his knowledge and his imagination, Dominic is able to reconstruct what a Saxon warrior might have looked like or even whole villages! There are virtually no contemporary drawings of medieval life (other than the nobility) and it is difficult to visualise how the majority of people dressed and how they lived. By piecing together archaeological finds with written records and painting the result in living colour, Dominic shows that the Dark Ages perhaps were not as "Dark" as previously thought!

The Old Post Office is once again in the news. A planning application to extend and convert the building into 5 maisonettes and turn the garden into a car park is to be determined by the Planning Committee of Arun District Council. The current building dates from around 1920 when it replaced an earlier, 19th century, building on the same site. If the plans are approved, an impression of what the "new" Old Post Office might look like is shown below:

G Westcott
January 2005


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