Review of Meetings 2010 (contd.)

September - October

The Yapton & Ford Local History Group held their 18th AGM on 6th September 2010 in the Yapton and Ford Village Hall. The Vice-Chairman reported that the Group had experienced another very successful year with a varied and interesting programme of speakers and visits, culminating in the extremely well supported exhibition about Ford Airfield. He thanked the efforts of all those that made these possible. The Treasurer reported that the club funds were in a healthy position and in the light of this the meeting agreed not to increase the annual subscriptions for the coming year.

Following the AGM, antiques expert Brian Height, gave his professional opinion and evaluation of various items of interest brought to the meeting by members.

For our October meeting, a packed Village Hall Clubroom welcomed guest speaker, Pauline Habgood, who gave an account of her childhood memories of life living under the German occupation of Jersey during WW2. Pauline recalled how, on 9th June 1940, the Islanders could see smoke rising from the French coast and the British troops destroying anything on the Island which would benefit the Germans. This was followed by the British troops leaving Jersey taking with them 10,000 local volunteers who wished to enlist and help defend their country. Any women and children who wished to leave were evacuated leaving about 41,000 to endure the uncertainties of occupation.

The members and guests heard Pauline describe the worsening conditions that they had to live under. Their meat ration being reduced to 2oz a week and their diet being supplemented with seaweed. They ran out of salt, pepper and butter as well as tobacco and soap. Cuttlefish bones were ground down to be used as "toothpaste".

When the coal ran out there was no electricity and her home could only be heated if enough wood could be found. The population's health suffered when medical supplies ran out. The elation that Pauline and her family felt when they heard the news about D-Day on secret radios had to sustain them over the following months as their supplies rapidly diminished. The situation was alleviated somewhat with the arrival of Red Cross parcels. The Germans, cut-off from the mainland, eventually surrendered and the Islands were liberated.

Pauline was thanked by the Vice-Chairman for a very personal and illuminating account of living in the only part of Great Britain that was occupied during WW2.

Allen Misselbrook
November 2010


November - December

The members of the Yapton & Ford Local History Group were treated to an architectural feast by Alan Green at their November meeting. With the aid of slides he transported the audience through the development of Georgian Chichester.

The first building on the scene was John Edes House in West Street. lt is not certain who the architect was as many of the buildings of that era were designed using a book of standard features. The next major building to be built was Pallant House, now an art gallery, which was built in 1712 by Henry Peckham.

These and many more "grand buildings" were built for "well to do" people as a status symbol to impress their neighbours. The chosen building material was bricks made locally and the usual flint which was prevalent in medieval times. Those who wanted to impress but could not afford the cost of a new building, built a brick facade to cover the existing timber framed buildings. One of the distinctive features of the Georgian houses was the chimney pots, the majority of which were made in Fareham. No two were the same.

Alan Green showed slides of other buildings in the city which can still be recognised. His descriptions of these were usually accompanied by humorous anecdotes. One of these buildings was the Ship Inn which was built for Admiral Murray who served with Nelson at Trafalgar. Another was what is now Zizzi’s restaurant, which was the first theatre to be built in Chichester.

Rob Bonnet was the Group’s guest speaker at their December meeting. The history of mills, with special emphasis on Sussex, being the subject of his illustrated talk.

The development of mills was traced from their earliest forms, which were not wind powered but turned by animals or human beings. The earliest recorded instance of a windmill was in Persia around 650 AD with the first one in Britain being in the 12th century, probably situated in Lincolnshire. Prior to this, the main driving force was water with between 5000 and 6000 entries for water mills being found in the Domesday Book in 1086.

Rob Bonnet, who is a member of the Sussex Mills Group, described, with the aid of slides, the main types of windmills. The first type being Post Mills followed by Tower Mills and finally ending up with Smock Mills. The History Group members heard of the importance of the windmills to the local economy and how different grains and other materials required different types and designs of millstones.

Working in the mills was fraught with danger with many instances of people having their cloths snagged in the rotating machinery or being hit by the rotating sails which resulted in loss of limbs and even death.

The evening concluded with a question and answer session followed by refreshments.

Allen Misselbrook
January 2011