21 Mar 2024

The Angel Hotel, one year after the fire

 A year after the fire that devastated the Angel Hotel and adjacent buildings, Sean Killick returns to North Street to report for South Today

28 Apr 2023

Mass Protest


A month after the last visit, South Today sends reporter Sean Killick to Midhurst where patience is wearing thin.

28 Mar 2023

Traders' Fears

 A further report from local South Today correspondent Ben Moore on the effects of the fire on local trade.

20 Mar 2023

10 Feb 2021

The Vaccination Hub

BBC South Today visits the vaccination hub in the Memorial Hall, where the actor Hugh Bonneville is volunteering.


14 Dec 2016

North Street (1953)

A party of visitors to Midhurst enjoying ice creams in North Street in 1953.

21 May 2016

Sgt. Stan Jackson banks at Barclays

This advert from (I think) 1991 shows "Sgt. Stan Jackson" cycling up Red Lion Street to obtain a last minute loan from the Midhurst branch of Barclays Bank...

Was Stan an actor or genuinely a Midhurst resident?

6 Apr 2015

Easter Monday

Easter Monday and the weather here in Midhurst is glorious. What a wonderful day it would have been for a Point to Point meeting!

5 Feb 2014

The "Don't Cut Us Out" Campaign

The cameras of BBC's "South Today" visit Midhurst to get views on whether the Council Tax for West Sussex should be frozen for (yet) another year.

This features some interviews in North Street and Margaret Guest, the Chair of the "Don't Cut Us Out" Campaign.

2 Feb 2013

Polo - The 1979 British Open Championship Final from Cowdray Park

Following on from the previous post, here is the coverage by Southern Television of the final of the 1979 Gold Cup.

Day By Day Special (1979) Cowdray Park

From the GH video collection this item from the much loved and greatly missed Southern Television.

An episode of the evening magazine programme Day By Day. It was originally intended to be broadcast entirely live from Cowdray Park but on the day this was not possible due to "technical issues" (most likely, given this is 1979, industrial action). So Fred Dinenage is in the Southampton studios with David Bobin reporting from Midhurst - or more accurately of course, Easebourne.

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.

13 Jan 2012

Songs of Praise from Easebourne (1983)


It may have said "from Midhurst" in the opening titles but it was the gravel outside St. Mary's Priory Church in Easebourne that the BBC trucks had rolled over earlier in the year.

The programme was recorded in the summer of 1983, on what was a warm evening; particularly for those taking part who were asked to wear winter clothes as the programme was to be shown in November.

The Rev. David Evans rehearses.

Powerful lights shone through the windows

The programme in production.

30 Dec 2011

Church Hill - Ford Fiesta advertisement (1979)


...and now a commercial break! The actor Jeff Rawle had been known for playing the title role in the television version of Billy Liar a few years earlier and has had a long career with shows such as Drop The Dead Donkey and Hollyoaks. Playing opposite him (quite literally) in this ad is David Janson, himself well known at that time for his part in the RAF based sitcom Get Some In.

I witnessed this being filmed (and if memory serves it really was celluloid) on a day in 1979. What was extraordinary was the sheer scale of the production.  Church Hill and Red Lion Street were closed off for the day. Church Hill was made to appear bi-directional with two rows of cars positioned between Sheep Lane and the market square. All the usual paraphernalia of a film crew was there, giant lights, huge camera, vans and lorries, scores of technicians and extras all headed by a director in a sheepskin coat hollering orders through a megaphone. At his command "two-thousand eight hundred and forty-nine pounds" the cars would move off and carry on until the shout of "cut". Then the cars would be reversed back into position and the whole process started again.

Everything you see on screen was part of the production, every car and driver and the passers by. There are two girls who spent the day walking a few steps down the hill then back up again to their start position, they are barely visible for the few seconds they appear. I don't know how many takes were done but I saw several in the course of about an hour and the crew were there all day.

That they were filming a car advertisement  was quite obvious so I knew what to look out for. Even so, when it did finally appear a few months later I'd seen it a couple of times before I realised it was the one I had seen being shot ... the Midhurst part forms only 15 seconds of the final commercial.

The car itself was the Ford Fiesta Popular, a new version of Ford's smallest car cut down to a minimum specification and at a price that (allegedly) would make a mini owner jealous.  I couldn't help feeling though that they could have cut another hundred or so off if they hadn't spent so much on the ad.

Why Midhurst was chosen I have no idea, it would not be well known to viewers (unlike, for instance, the Albert Hall or Piccadilly Circus seen later in the commercial). The same part of Midhurst was used some thirty years later in episodes of Foyle's War.  I wonder if perhaps anyone involved with Foyle had earlier worked on this Fiesta advertisement?

24 Dec 2011

"Down Your Way" 6. George Cloke


The final part of "Down Your Way" and my last upload until after the Christmas festivities.

For this interview we go over to Midhurst Whites for some facts about the brickworks from George Cloke  (who helpfully begins by spelling his name so I know I've got it correct). Followed by a summary of his visit to Midhurst from Brian Johnston.

Music from the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra playing Weber's Invitation to the Waltz.

"Down Your Way" 5. John Boulton


Three miles up the Guildford road, north of Midhurst to "the world-famous" King Edward VII Hospital, to talk to the secretary John Boulton for this fifth interview. Perhaps the most poignant so far as John outlines, with some pride, the hospital's past achievements and plans for the future. Of course at that time neither John nor anyone else would have had any suspicion that thirty years hence the hospital, founded in 1903, would be no more.

John's record choice was Imperial Echoes played by the Band of the Coldstream Guards.

23 Dec 2011

"Down Your Way" 4. Gladys Werry


Time now for Brian Johnston to discover more about stoolball so it's off to Little Ashfield to talk to the president of Midhurst Stoolball Club, Mrs. Gladys Werry. Not surprisingly the discussion involves several comparisons between this ancient Sussex game and cricket, Johnners rather tactfully covering his scepticism at the suggestion that the Sussex game is older.

Mrs. Werry reveals in the interview that she was previously a player for the club and was once skipper. Beyond that I have not discovered much about Gladys bar this (dare I say slightly amusing)  article from the Reading Eagle of 21 March 1971 which shows she had been widowed by the time of the recording.

The music choice was Harry Secombe singing the Drinking Song which comes, of course, from The Student Prince.

"Down Your Way" 3. Adrian Hill


Down to "Laundry Cottages" in the shadow of Cowdray Ruins now to talk with the artist Adrian Hill. From 1958-1962 Adrian presented a BBC television programme called Sketch Club in which he demonstrated drawing skills. Children could send in their own drawings and (according to the show's  IMDb entry) Ronnie Wood was a regular contributor.

It is evident in this interview that Adrian and Brian Johnston were already acquainted, presumably from their BBC connection. Adrian talks about how he came to Midhurst when recovering from tuberculosis and how he introduced the concept of occupational therapy to the King Edward VII Sanatorium, a subject revisited in the later interview with John Boulton.

For his music Adrian chose the theme from Sketch Club, which was taken from The Sleeping Princess and played by the Finlandia Orchestra.

22 Dec 2011

"Down Your Way" 2. Philip Tatham


As the Band of the Grenadier Guards playing Richard Knight's musical selection Sussex By The Sea fades away, Brian Johnston moves to Cowdray Park to interview the Polo Manager, Colonel Philip Tatham.

By coincidence, I completed my work on this upload on the day of the 35th anniversary of Colonel Tatham's death in December 1976. I emailed Robert Collingwood, the owner of the Tatham Family History website, who added a link to the interview. The site contains a lot of details about the colonel's interesting life and career, but sadly neither Robert nor I have a picture of  "Bolshie" Tatham so instead I inserted one of Brian Johnston into the video.

As mentioned yesterday, the recording level problem effecting the first interview had been sorted out so this segment, and the ones that follow, are quite audible.

Colonel Tatham's music choice was The Keel Row played by the Band of the Honourable Artillery Company.

21 Dec 2011

"Down Your Way" 1. Richard Knight


At some time in the mid-seventies Brian Johnston brought his radio programme Down Your Way to Midhurst. The format of the show, which had been running since 1946, was an interview with a local person followed by a piece of music chosen by them, repeated six times. A set of mini Desert Island Discs for ordinary people.

This first interview was with Richard Knight who had lived all his life in Midhurst and had served as a page boy during the visit of King Edward VII in 1906.

As recounted in the book "Midhurst in Living Memory", Richard sadly died after the recording and before the programme was broadcast.

This recording of the broadcast was made on a reel-to-reel tape recorder (bought appropriately at one of G. Knight & Son's auctions) and the sound quality is quite poor due to the levels being set too high. This was luckily fixed during the first piece of music so the subsequent clips are much more audible. For this one a transcription has been made and I think it is accurate, but I still have some doubts about who or what is got in from the common (at 4:01) or exactly where the curfew is rung (4:14).

The exact date of the recording is not known but it must have been made in either 1974 or 1975.