Review of Meetings 2005

January - April

A lively discussion ensued at a recent meeting of the Yapton & Ford Local History Group when Adge Roberts recounted the history of the ill-fated Portsmouth to Arundel Canal. It is surprising just how much of the canal is still visible today when you know where to look and what to look for. The route of the canal is clearly visible to the west of The Pines and behind Downview, but it can be traced all the way from its junction with the River Arun through to Hunston.

The location and use of certain features of the canal were hotly debated with seveal theories suggested and rejected! Was Brow Cottage (currently occupied by Hobdens estate agents) used as a stable for for the horses that pulled the barges? Probably not. Was the adjacent, strangely shaped, area of the canal used as a turning or parking area for the barges? Unlikely since the barges were too long to fit in the space. The mystery remains unsolved.

Searching through the photographs contained in our library we have several showing local scenes and events. Unfortunately we don’t know who the people are in the pictures. Do you recognise anyone in the picture below? Do you know anything about the event in question? The sign says "National Fire Service Station C•3S" and is taken outside the garages attached to the Shoulder of Mutton. Can anyone remember this being used as a fire station?

Looking ahead, we are pleased to be taking part in the Bognor Regis Festival of Local History. On Sunday aftemoon, 5th June (in the Village Hall), we will be presenting an exhibition of local history with displays, photographs, maps and events. All are welcome to come along and learn something new about our village or perhaps you could use our library of records to look up your Yapton ancestors or find out something about the history of your house? And if you have any old photographs of Yapton or Ford that we may borrow, then please bring them along so we may copy them for our photo-library - preferably with a description and date attached!

G Westcott
May 2005


May - June

Last month’s Local History event presented by the Yapton & Ford Local History Group was a great success. Over 100 people came along to see the displays and, despite the adverse weather, 20 people enjoyed a guided walk around the older parts of the village and hopefully learnt something about the people and history of the buildings along the way. A big thank-you to those people who brought along photos and postcards for us to copy for our library - if anybody has any more old photos or newspaper clippings then please get in touch. Even more recent photos (such as the re-opening of the road through Ford Aerodrome in 1964) are useful and help to chronicle events for future Yaptonians.

When looking at old photographs it's interesting to see what has changed over time but also to see what has not changed. Look at this picture of Main Road. At first sight it's a familiar scene of the area around Victoria House and Tillington Cottages, but take a closer look. This picture dates from 1915, over 90 years ago, but you can still see the patch repairs to the roof of Victoria House. I wonder how many of the roofs on today's houses will last 30 years let alone 90?! But why were the repairs carried out all those years ago? Damage from a fallen tree perhaps? l doubt we will ever know.

Next door (Victoria Lodge) you can see the building of what is now Cabco. The facade of this building has changed over the years as has its use. In 1915 it was a "Butcher and Dairyman" shop run by William Baker and remained a butcher’s shop until 1981 when it became a taxi office. It has since been a solicitor’s office and a shop selling baby clothes before becoming a taxi office once again - quite a varied history!

Look closely at numbers 3 - 5 Tillington Cottages and you can see thatched roofs - when were these replaced with the tiles we see today? The large board in the garden of no. 3 is possibly advertising an auction sale which was the usual method of selling houses at the time.

On the other side of the road is a flint wall of what used to be Yapton Cottage. This building was derelict from 1895 and was demolished and a new house built in its grounds around 1913. The strip of land where the wall can be seen was compulsorily purchased by the County Council when they thought they might widen the section of the road from Church Rd, to the village green. Fortunately they decided against this or the traffic might travel even faster along here than it already does! Pity they didn’t leave the wall there however - that would stop people parking on the pavement (a criminal offence by the way) and obstructing the path.

A lot can he learned about our history from old photos and postcards, even if it often throws up more questions than answers.

G Westcott
July 2005