Haywards Heath in old picture postcards

Haywards Heath in old picture postcards

:   Nickola Smith
:   Sussex, West
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-5690-5
:   88
:   EUR 16.95 Incl BTW *

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Haywards Heath has seldom received a good press. Travelling through Sussex in 1894, Augustas Hare warmed to the charms of Lindfield and Cuckfield, but of Haywards Heath he wrote 'Here, till recently, was a wild heath with a fine group of fir trees. The land has been cut up and sold in small portions by the Sergisons and is now a colony of cockney villas' and still today the town is most frequently dismissed as an 'urban sprawl'. For in truth, Haywards Heath is a railway halt that just grew. There was no overall plan and, although buildings have since been demolished and replaced, gaps infilIed and the town limits stretched to accommodate new estates, none could be imposed.

The name of the town reveals its origins: the waste or 'hothe' of the Manor of Hayworth. Hayworth's Hothe became Haywards Heath.

In 1937, the eighty-year old architect and builder Arthur Richard Pannett, widely acknowledged to be one of the 'makers' of the town, spoke of this area before the coming of the railway as comprising two inns, eight farmhouses, one windmill with house and nine cottages - a total of twenty. The heathland, a large part of it within the estate of the Sergisons of Cuckfield Park, was traversed by two intersecting roads running north to south, and east to west.

A Private Act of Parliament gave the go-ahead for the building of the London-to-Brighton Steam Railway in July 1837 and

sanctioned the scheme proposed by the engineer, J. U. Rastick. The speed of construction was remarkable, considering the need to negotiate with locallandowners, to carry out extensive tunnelling and to build the Balcombe Viaduct with its great supporting arches incorporating eleven million bricks. The track reached Haywards Heath in July 1841 and Brighton two months later.

Although from the start the railway advertised its passenger facilities and anticipated an increasing number of those wishing to travel daily to London, it was the new opportunity to shift materials and livestock that attracted the enterprising. Goods yards were rapidly established to service the grain and stock market to the west of the track and timber, coal and builders yards to the east. All these activities created employment, bringing men and their families to the area. Houses and shops quickly followed along with feeder roads extending either side of the track to meet the old route across the heath.

Further away to the east, another major project got underway. The Sussex Asylum brought more construction workers and staff and a parallel settlement grew around the old crossing of the Lewes/Cuckfield and DitchlingiLindfield ways. St. Wilfrid's Church, built on the high ground between these two concentrations of people, drew parishioners from both.

The pictures included here date from the late 19th and early 20th century, when Haywards Heath was a new and burgeon-

ing town. Beside the affIuent who settled in the district, wealth accrued to architects, builders, lawyers, shopkeepers and other providers of goods and services. The same names recur Bannister, Pannett, Finch, Waugh, Hilton, White, Clarke and others - in organising local govemment, supporting church and chapel, encouraging new schools, donating generously to pubtic works and participating in all the local societies and entertainments. Because of the town's enviable position, however, this pattern of life was bound to change. Surrounded by beautiful countryside, a short drive from the coast and (after electrification in 1933) with over a hundred trains a day to London in under an hour, Haywards Heath became ever more popular with commuters. The population rose from 1,276 in 1871 to 7,344 in 1931 and 28,190 in 1981.

Already in the 1930's, the Iocal paper expressed concern about upsetting the balance between commercial premises and private houses, the increase of motor traffic and the ousting of small individual shops by the branch stores of Sainsbury, Timothy White and the rest. Those problems persist today on a larger scale, made more complex by modern social developments and compounded by the recession which has affected Mid-Sussex so badly in recent times.

The following postcards and photographs present a very different image - the young face of Haywards Heath, aften, but certainly not always, a more appealing one. Very roughly, they

follow a path from the Station, south to Muster Green, east to Sussex Raad and then north again, with many a diversion along the way.


This compilation would have been impossible without generous help from Valerie Fanner, CIaude Ferguson, Joy Hay and members of the Finch Family, Win Hilton, Philip Pye, Lillian Rogers, George Seanor and David Tucker. Many thanks also to Mrs. Conway Gabe for access to her late husband's papers and to Christine Wilson for her indispensable word processing skills.

July 1993

Nickola Smith


Mid-Sussex through the Ages by A.H. Gregory. Charles Clarke (Haywards Heath Ltd.) 1939.

The Metropolis of Mid-Sussex by Wyn Ford and A.C. Gabe. Charles Clarke (Haywards Heath Ltd.) 1981.

The Archive Department. The Mid-Sussex Times, Boltra Raad, Haywards Heath.

1. As long as the booking office and main station entrance remained on the west side of the track (1880-1930), the market place was a focal point of the town and at the time of this postcard, c1925, it presented a dignified front to the visitor. The market itself was concealed behind a high brick wall. Charles Golding's Station Hotel, with Corn Exchange annexe, faced the canopied station approach with an imposing classic fa├žade and Barclays Bank replaced the County Supply Store with a brick and ashlar edifice of suitable substance and gravitas. Next door to the bank, Golding, adapting to the times, substituted a motor garage for his livery stables and across the way at No 1 Boltro Road, Lloyds Bank occupied the corner site.

2.13. These two watercolours of the construction of the railway line through Haywards Heath have seldom, if ever, been united since they were painted by George Childs in 1841. They are reproduced by kind permission of Cuckfield Museum Trust and Brighton Museum and Art Gallery. George Childs, recorded as living in Bedford Row, London, and exhibiting at the Royal Academy in Suffolk Street between 1826 and 1873, was better known as a painter of landscapes and rustic genre subjects. Haywards Heath Tunnel in the course of construction (Cuckfield Museum). Although the railway line followed the geological route preferred by the engineer, it necessitated some lengthy stretches of tunnelling. Above the tunnel (south of the station) the building taking shape is believed to be 'Cleve-



lands', the first house to be built as a direct result of the railway. It was the home of Mr. Flesher , the contractor responsible for this section of the line. ('Clevelands' was demolished in 1957 for Muster Court). The line south of Haywards Heath Tunnel (Brighton Museum and Art Gallery). There is much activity here as the tip-trucks full of stone are dragged from the tunnel and hoisted up the embankment on barrow runs. A detonation occurs on the left breaking up an immense lump of stone. The picture serves to emphasise how labour intensive this construction was. Thousands of navvies were employed, all needing shelter and victuals.

4. A view from the railway embankment of the Market Place with Barclays Bank, the Hayworthe Arms Hotel, Barmister's Market and Bridge's shoe repair shop. The Southdown bus at its stop in front of the horse-trough suggests a date of 1934.

5. Bannisters Livestock Market c1930. By this time the market was one of the twelve largest in the Country. It occupied an eight-acre site with many purpose-built buildings and pens. Barmister's handled the sale of anything up to 100,000 head of stock each year in weekly auctions, an annual cattIe and pig fair in November and a Christmas fat stock show in December. The Market cJosed in 1989, when Sainsburys purchased the site.

6. The fire at the Corn Stores in Market Place, 21 October 1915, was a dramatic event, well-recorded by local photographers. The four-storey building, erected in 1846, was set alight by a spark from a passing railway engine. The wooden structure full of grain and forage was soon ablaze and all efforts to quench the flarnes by the fire brigades from Lindfield, Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill proved fruitless. The owners, Messrs. Jenner and Higgs, retreated to their Bridgers Mill premises.

7. Boltro Raad from the main station entrance to the Post Office building (erected in 1915) contained a good range of shops: gents' outfitters, florist, greengrocer, baker, ironmonger, music store and, of course, the printing press of Mr. Charles Clarke, who began publishing the Mid-Sussex Times in 1881.

8. This postcard sent in 1908 shows the old Post Office with its huge telegraph standard alongside 'Lirnehurst', Thomas Barmister's home and office. From here he carried out his auctioneering and surveying business until he moved down to Market Place. The curved frontage further down Boltro Road was Bradley & Vaughan's offices. In the 1930's the realignment of the station entrance precipitated their transfer to Perrymount Road.

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