13 Feb 2012

Midhurst In Living Memory - Errata

As I have now completed my audio/visual collection of personal memories of Midhurst, I thought this would be a good time to take a pause before moving on to the more generic Midhurst material and take a look at the book "Midhurst in Living Memory".

This excellent volume was born out of the Midhurst Oral History project and is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of Midhurst (as well as being excellent value at only £7.50, due in no small part I guess to Heritage Lottery funding). I have no connection with the book or the publishers but I thoroughly recommend it as a satisfied reader ... in the unlikely event you don't already have your own copy.

It is therefore no criticism when I point out there are one or two factual errors. This is to be expected. As the editor writes in the forward: "...this is not a history of Midhurst - it is a collection of memories, not all of which will be accurate, or the same for any two people."

However, I do think some of these inaccuracies should at least be noted - particularly where a factual error in a personal reminiscence has been repeated in the commentary or a picture caption. Here then are three I spotted and forwarded to the publishers for consideration, should the book ever be revised for a second edition.

Firstly page 123. I knew them very well so I feel duty bound to point out that the proprietors of The Three Horse Shoes pub were Dick and Kitty Layzell (spelt with a Y).  Dick (whose name was actually Henry) took over the establishment from his father between the wars whist his brother Ephraim (known as "Effie") ran the Oxford Arms on Bepton Road. The Three Horse Shoes stands in North Street today as a Pizza Express, the Oxford Arms alas is long gone.

Then on page 158 John Stringer recounts the day that Michael Foot arrived to unveil the H.G.Wells plaque in a "vintage Rolls Royce".  This is fine, that is John's memory and the passage should remain. However, there is a photograph of the occasion earlier in the book and the claim is repeated in the caption.

Now leaving aside the innacurate count of "Victorian maidens" and concentrating instead on the transport, the common definition of a vintage car is one built between 1919 and 1930. I'm sure the owner of this fine model would be dismayed to hear it described as such because it is, of course, much older and therefore a veritable veteran. A fact confirmed both by its 1901 registration and the Veteran Car Club badge visible atop the dashboard.

Neither is it a Rolls Royce, whose first car in 1904 bore the distinctive palladian style radiator grill sported by every model since. But to my shame, although a lifelong motoring buff myself, I have been unable to identify this particular car. It doesn't take part in the annual London-Brighton run so therefore isn't in the programme of entries and the badge and plaque are both too indistinct to make out from the photo. Ah, if only Michael Sedgewick was still with us, he would know!  If you have any idea please tell me.

And finally, page 198 with reference to N B C Lucas.  Peggy Stempson mentions coming to the Grammar School in "about" 1971 and I would agree with that. I recall she did a job swap with her husband (the well remembered "stinker" Stempson) at about that time. However she says that Lucas was already an established headmaster and that he "looked the part". Hmmm. The records show that Donald Fisher took over from Luke as headmaster in 1967, four years earlier.

There is further confusion with the photograph on that page:

It is captioned as a presentation to N B C Lucas in 1969. Actually I believe it is a presentation to Mrs. Lucas, who retired as a teacher in that year. I don't recognise the gent on the left (a governor perhaps?) but otherwise from l-r are Donald Fisher, N B C Lucas (looking on), Mrs. Doreen Vera Lucas* (apparently the recipient) and deputy head Mr. Buckle.

So those are my memories, perhaps you have your own?

I'd love to hear them.

*Amended for the correct Mrs. Lucas, see comment from Vicki Brown below.