Review of Meetings 2013

January - February

The Yapton & Ford Local History Group welcomed Bill Gage of the West Sussex Records Office as their guest speaker for their first meeting of 2013. A full Clubroom consisting of members and guests heard about the history of the Railway in West Sussex. Bill, with the aid of slides, described the coming of the railway in 1840 when the line from Brighton to Shoreham was laid down. ln 1846 the line was extended to Chichester with stations at Yapton and Woodgate, and then on to Portsmouth. The branch line to Littlehampton was opened in 1863 closely followed by the branch line to Bognor in 1864. This line was served by a station at Barnham resulting in the immediate closure of Yapton’s station.

Bognor’s station has had a chequered life. lt was destroyed and rebuilt in 1892 and then again in 1897. ln 1899 it was totally destroyed in a fire. The station that we see today was what was built in its place. Most of the workforce employed to build the railways came from local agricultural labourers. lt was in 1892 that the method of construction changed and sleepers were introduced.

Other lines were built. Ford to London with a station at Arundel which the Duke of Norfolk would only allow if the station was built well outside of the town.

The year of 1897 saw the appearance of the Selsey Tram line. lt was called a Tram, although in truth it was a railway, because it was not required to protect road crossings as they would have been if it was classed as a railway hence saving costs. This line carried in the region of 80,000 passengers a year.

Apart from passengers the railways of West Sussex played a major role in carrying livestock to markets, and during times of conflict ambulance trains carried the injured troops to the Chichester Hospitals, St. Richards, Royal West Sussex and Graylingwell.

February’s meeting was given over to discussing past and possible future projects of the Group. The discussion was led by Historian Dr Andrew Foster who is also a group member. After congratulating the Group on their past achievements and publications he proceeded to float ideas for further projects.

One strong contender was to interview as many women of the two villages as possible, young and old, to discover their thoughts of living in the villages. Another idea from the floor was to compile a Who’s Who of Yapton and Ford documenting personalities who have made a name for themselves in one field or another.

Current projects being undertaken by the Group are 'A Year ln The Life', where we are asking all of you to submit to us your photographs of Home and Village Life so that we can compile a photo diary of living in Yapton & Ford during 2013. We also have an ongoing project of Oral History where we are recording people’s memories of living in Yapton & Ford.

Another project which is a personal project by member Jim Payne is the Centenary of the start of World War One and he would like to hear from anybody with memorabilia or memories of that time.

Allen Misselbrook
March 2013


March - April

The County Archivist, Alan Readman, made a welcome return to give the members and guests of The Yapton & Ford Local History Group an illustrated talk on the Royal Sussex Regiment, at their April meeting.

Alan expertly led his audience through the history of the Regiment beginning with their formation in Northern Ireland. lt was raised by Arthur Chichester, the 3rd Earl of Donegal, at his own expense under the banner of the 35th Regiment of Foot in 1701. lt was formed to help combat the rising tide of Catholicism.

lt saw action in the American War of lndependence and the attack on Quebec under General Wolfe against the Royal Roussillon Regiment of France. lt was because of this victory that their eventual home in Broyle Road was named the Roussillon Barracks.

The 4th Duke of Richmond, Charles Gordon Lennox, started recruiting from Sussex and their name eventually changed to the Sussex Regiment of Foot in the 1780’s. The Regiment fought in the Napoleonic Wars and their strength increased to two battalions. While one battalion was away fighting the other remained at home training.

The Barracks in Broyle Road was built in 1803 and became the home of the Sussex Regiment in 1873. It remained so until 1960 when it moved to Canterbury.

During the 1830’s they served in the West Indies and after a Hurricane struck in 1832 the Regiment helped the local population overcome the devastation. As a result of this the Regiment were awarded the right to add 'Royal' to their name.

Among other actions that the Regiment were involved in were the Indian Mutiny, The Relief of Khartoum and the Boar War.

A third battalion was raised around 1900 and the Regiment was heavily involved in WWI, losing 300 men killed on the first day of the Ypres engagement. During WW2 they suffered heavy losses at Monte Casino. They also saw action in Burma, Korea and Aden before they were merged with other Regiments in 1966.

Allen Misselbrook
May 2013


May - June

The Yapton & Ford Local History Group’s usual monthly meeting was replaced by a visit to the Tangmere Museum. Members and guests were given a guided tour of the impressive collection of static display aircraft which included WWII aircraft such as the Spitfire, and the Hunter which broke the World Air Speed record in the early 1950’s after taking off from Tangmere.

The collection also included the English Electric Lightning, the last all British designed and manufactured fighter, which could attain speeds of up to 1500 mph in the 1950’s but at the expense of only being able to remain airborne for a maximum of 40 minutes on a fuel load.

English Electric Lightning 53

Our guide entertained us with many anecdotes along with many facts and figures about the various exhibits. On completion of the tour, the History Group’s party could explore the rest of the Museum which included displays covering the stories of the special agents who were flown out from Tangmere into Occupied Europe. The displays covered the Battle of Britain as well as other equally absorbing subjects related to the history of Tangmere airfield.

The History Group welcomed Helen Poole to their June meeting. Helen, who has been involved with Sussex museums for over 20 years, gave an illustrated talk about Charles II and the Civil War in Sussex.

Helen described the historical background to the War which pitched fathers against sons and brothers against brothers. lt was fought between the supporters of the Monarchy, Cavaliers, who believed in the 'Divine Right of Kings' and the supporters of Parliament, Roundheads.

The first battle of the war was at Edge Hill in Worcestershire in 1642. Chichester fell to the Parliamentarians after a siege later that year followed by the fall of Arundel. During December a bloody battle was fought at Haywards Heath where 200 were killed. Arundel was re-taken by the Royalists in 1643 only to lose it again later that year. The final battle of the conflict was also fought in Worcestershire following which the King was beheaded at Whitehall on 30th January 1649.

There followed a period when the country became a Protectorate governed by Oliver Cromwell until his death in 1658. His son succeeded him until 1660 at which time the monarchy was restored.

Allen Misselbrook
July 2013