All About Wadhurst

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Local People


Compared with life in the 1990's things seemed much less complicated in the 1930's. The Second World War brought many changes.

Before the war families were not so affluent, many of them worked on farms around the area and others were employed on large estates or in large houses as gardeners, chauffeurs, cooks, housemaids and other jobs necessary in running these establishments.

Certain people became better known than others. There was one man known as 'Baron Griff' who slept rough over the stables at the Greyhound Public House. He had a very ruddy complexion and the children all called him "Strawberry Nose". He was said to be a *remittance man but no one seemed to know where he came from. This man was always seen sweeping up after the horses outside the hostelry.

*A remittance man was someone, often from a wealthy family, who depended on them sending money to him.

At a later date Maurice Tate, the well known cricketer, was publican at The Greyhound.

With a weekly market, held on Mondays another person seen in the High Street was Billy Mitten, nick-named "Bill Poster Bill". He would be posting up the auctioneers posters with his large brush and pot of paste.

Charles Bocking, grandson of the headmaster of Wadhurst's first school, worked for Watson and Son auctioneers. During his adult life he had the foresight to collect photographs and other memorabilia recording day by day life and important events which took place in Wadhurst during the 20th century. It is to him that the Parish is indebted for the Bocking Collection donated to them and held by trustees appointed by the local Parish Council. Stan Cosham is continuing the photographic recording of major village events and often holds exhibitions of his photographs for charity.

Unfortunately we no longer have the "beat men", the roadsweepers who meticulously kept our highways free from litter and our drains and gullies running freely. One of these men was Edward Blackman whose broom was as big as himself.

On the night of Thursday 19 September 1940 one of the younger members of our community, Rose Eade, showed great courage in rescuing three small children from Buttons Farm House which had received a direct hit from a German bomb. For this brave act she received the George Medal.

In the 1930's and even after the Second World War Miss Lilian Muir ran a little draper's shop in Balaclava Lane. She was frequently seen travelling round with her goods, in a basket on the back of her bicycle, and these she sold from door to door. While Sammy Manktelow followed the same kind of activity by going from house to house at weekends selling fish from a basket on his bicycle.

Rodney Bassett joined his family's blacksmith business in 1922. He was well known to all local horse owners who brought their animals to be shod at his forge in Durgates. In 1935 he was asked to deal with a pony from a travelling circus and to his chagrin it arrived accompanied by its companion, an elephant. Rodney was, like other members of his family before him, a local retained fireman and later became the Station Officer, the office he held until his retirement.

The Scots have been said to be miserly regarding money but this certainly did not apply to Benny Greig. He came to Wadhurst after the First World War, married and settled here. He started selling and repairing bicycles in a small building on the site of Ben Greig Motors in Sparrows Green. His business developed to the sale of cars and petrol and he also ran a taxi service. He was known for his geniality and his generosity. He formed the Old Time Dance Club and in its infancy took members from one venue to another in his converted two‑toned grey ambulance. In the days of 'steam radio', when radios were operated from acid batteries (accumulators), these were recharged at his garage for the price of sixpence. One old resident recalls that when, as a child, he took his there he always had a penny returned and was told to go and buy himself some sweets. It was not generally known but at Christmas time he would give the manager of a local grocery store money to provide Christmas fare for poorer families.

Doctor Erie Fazan, a local doctor, was a very distinguished soldier during the First World War. He won the Military Cross for bravery on the field on more than one occasion. He was a founder member of the Wadhurst and Tidebrook Branch of the Royal British Legion and was President for many years. As a doctor he took great interest in all his patients but especially families of ex-servicemen who had their own particular problems. Many people will remember how, as sick children and visited by Dr. Fazan, they would be distracted from his ministrations by being allowed to listen to the chiming pocket watch which he always carried in his waistcoat pocket. His name is perpetuated in a warden-assisted block of flats for the elderly known as Fazan Court.

In Sparrows Green the Clements family was very well known. Mrs. Clements was a very active lady and it was she who was instrumental in setting up the children's playing field in Sparrows Green. She cajoled local wealthy parishioners to provide the necessary land and cash for this project. Her daughter, Gwenda, carried on and ran the 2nd Wadhurst Girl Guide Company, the Tidebrook Women's Institute, organising the Home Industry Section at the annual Flower Shows and in the early days helped to establish the Youth Group. She was also an early stalwart of the Drama Club. She was a very accomplished lady and will be long remembered by those fortunate enough to have known her.

The Honorable Beryl and Daphne Courthope, daughters of Lord Courthope of Whiligh, were both involved with the Girl Guide Movement. The former ran the local Ranger Company until it was disbanded at the beginning of World War Two, while her sister was Captain of the 1st Wadhurst Girl Guide Company and then Divisional Commissioner. The Honourable Daphne Courthope became interested in local government and was an East Sussex County Councillor. She held the office of Chairman of the Education Committee for some time and became Chairman of the County Council at one period. For her work in this capacity she was awarded the O.B.E. When the new County Council Officers were built in Lewes the Staff Restaurant and Social Club was named 'The Courthope Club'.

One of our well-known residents today is "Algie" Hoare. He was a teacher in Wadhurst for thirty six years but is perhaps better known for the time he has devoted to the Wadhurst Brass Band which he originally started as a School Band at Uplands. Under his leadership it has gone from strength to strength contributing greatly to local charities and has taken a leading role in celebrations such as the 50th Anniversary of the end of World War Two which was held in Wadhurst on 20 August 1995.

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