Tag Archives: beachy head

Wandering: South Downs Way – Eastbourne to Exceat

7 May

A little over a year since I started walking the South Downs Way I was back in Eastbourne, East Sussex starting it all over again. This time I was accompanied by my wife, who has decided that she would also like to walk the South Downs Way (SDW) this year. This year I had planned to take a week off work and walk the route in one go, but for now we will be walking it together over several months.

The route is now quite familiar to me, I have only walked it a few times but have revisited it in my mind and in my digital photo albums many times. I won’t go into the details of the route here, beyond the basics: head west from Eastbourne up onto the hills, across Beachy Head, past Belle Tout lighthouse, drop down to the National Trust cafe and bar at Birling Gap, up to the start of the Seven Sisters, up and down the Seven Sisters several times and finally down to the Cuckmere River and along to Exceat.

Weather conditions were generally good for walking, probably more a little more sunshine than cloud with a few very light (and brief) showers. All in all it was a good walk, the Seven Sisters didn’t cause me any real problems and although my legs and feet were tired they soon recovered.

I hope to try to make this walk of the first section of the South Downs Way an annual occurrence, at least for as long as I am capable of completing it. For now though I will leave you with a few photos.

Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters, East Sussex (7th May 2011)

Seaford Head and Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex (7th May 2011)

The obligatory trig point photo - Cliff End trig point, Seven Sisters, East Sussex (7th May 2011)

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

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Picture Postcard Parade: Beachy Head again

8 Apr

I wouldn’t normally have bothered with a card like this when it turned up on eBay a couple of weeks ago. The view is nothing special and the condition is a little poor, but it was the message that had been written in the top-left corner that appealed to me.

I would have to agree with the writer’s comment, it is lovely at Beachy Head and in answer to the question, “Yes I would like to go walking there” and probably will very soon.

The condition of the back of the card is not very good, someone has removed the stamp taking with it most of the postmark, so these particular pieces of dating evidence are gone. The message on the card however almost makes up for the missing stamp, like the one earlier in the week it is on the subject of collecting postcards.

The sender says she is “now collecting Coat of Arms now, but please don’t send Poole & B-mouth as I have those”. I wonder how big her collection was and how many different themes she collected?

“Death must have been almost instantaneous”

9 Jan

My relatives continue to amaze me with their ability to make the national newspapers and in the quite gruesome ways their lives are cut short. To the two relations who were killed in railway accidents I can now add another who died in a maritime accident.

Thomas Henry HUTFIELD married my 2x great-aunt Harriet Ellen MITCHELL in 1900, I don’t have the exact details only that it was in Q4 1900 in Portsmouth Registration District. I had been unable to find Harriet in the 1901, but then I didn’t know at the time that she had married. It wasn’t until I was searching for her widowed mother in the newly released 1911 census that I found both Harriet and her mother living in Portsmouth, Hampshire.

The fact that she was living in Portsmouth and that despite being married her husband was not at home immediately made me think that her husband was serving in the Royal Navy. That is pretty much where my research ended. I added a few children to the marriage but never took the research any further until a few days ago.

I bought and downloaded a copy of Thomas’ naval service details from DocumentsOnline, in the hope of finding out a bit more on him and his family. I have found naval records to be largely devoid of family or personal detail in the past, and this one was no exception.

What I did find however, beneath the long list of vessels on which Thomas had served was the following intriging note: “21 July 1911. Accidentally killed on board ‘Kangaroo’ owing to bursting of a steam pipe during steam trials.”

Using my membership of  the Surrey Library Service I was soon searching copies of The Times newspaper online for a mention of the accident. It didn’t take long to find a report of the accident, a message of condolence from the King and details of the inquest.

According to The Times for the 22nd July 1911:

While the destroyer Kangaroo was carrying out steam trials off Beachy Head, about four miles out, shortly after noon yesterday, a steam pipe burst. Two stokers were killed by the explosion and five injured. The bodies of the dead men and four of the injured were put on board the cruiser Topaze, which brought them into Portsmouth, and the injured were sent to Haslar Hospital.

The above article lists the casualties and the report of the subsequent inquest gives further details of the accident. Bearing in mind that this was in a national newspaper, I would expect the local newspapers to give more information and probably mention of his funeral and the family he left behind.

This incident poses many research questions such as did Harriet receive some pension or compensation? Was there a memorial service for the two dead men? Where are they buried? What became of Harriet and her children after the death of Thomas? In other words, plenty of reasons to go and visit the Portsmouth Records Office and do some more digging.

Picture Postcard Parade: Beachy Head Light House. Eastbourne.

10 Sep

This is probably my favourite postcard at the moment, it shows Belle Tout lighthouse east of Beachy Head near Eastbourne, East Sussex. For a postcard that is over 100 years old the colours are incredibly vibrant and the novelty of feeding chickens on Beachy Head is just so appealing to me. I can’t help wondering if any of the chickens ever tumbled over the edge of the cliff!

Beachy Head Light House

Both the front and the back have been written on, and helpfully the date appears to have been written on the front, 14.9.03 and a set of initials. As you can see the back just has a name and address on it, Miss Booth of Oxford Street, Ripley.

Beachy Head Light House (reverse)

I wonder if Miss Booth ever got this card, the marks on the corners attest to the fact that it has been in an album for a long time, and I wonder who L.A.L. was?

The Wandering Genealogist returns to Beachy Head

14 Aug

I cannot help myself, it must be an addiction, it seems I take every available opportunity to visit Beachy Head. Today’s excuse was paying a visit the airshow at Eastbourne, East Sussex.

It was a rare opportunity when both my wife and I had a day off together and nothing else more pressing to do. For me it was pure indulgence, no work, no genealogy, no (serious) walking, just enjoying the scenery and the flying.

Grey skies over Eastbourne

Beachy Head was not perfect as a viewpoint for the airshow, with the aircraft displaying along the seafront at Eastbourne it is a little bit too far away, although several of them did arrive or depart over Beachy Head. What it does have is lots of open space and terrific views all round.

As you can see the conditions were not perfect at the start, the day began with grey skies (and a light rain shower whilst on the bus) but it did clear later on. Even whilst the skies elsewhere were blanketed in cloud, Beachy Head seemed to be basking in sunshine. It really felt like a privileged position.

Having taken the bus up to the top of Beachy Head we felt that we at least ought to walk back down to Eastbourne to get the bus back to Brighton. We made our way down the side of the hill and walked along the foot of the hills and into the town. This gave me a chance to get a photo of Beachy Head lighthouse and the cliffs.

Chalk cliff and lighthouse

The flying display was excellent, especially as we got closer to centre of the action on Eastbourne seafront, I prefer the older historic aircraft, but my wife preferred the faster and noisier modern jets, like the F-16, which I must admit was absolutely awesome. Unfortunately the seafront also meant crowds of people and traffic, which was a real contrast to the slopes of Beachy Head. We didn’t hang around long, we had a bus to catch, and the crowds were a bit too much for us.Blue skies and The Blades at Eastbourne

Before I leave Beachy Head

1 Jun

I may have run out of postcards of Beachy Head for the time being, but before I leave the subject of Beachy Head I would like to share the description from the 1898 edition of Black’s Guide to Sussex and its Watering Places.

Beachy Head is described in the chapter on Eastbourne, which it describes as:

This young town, though its population numbers only as yet some 40,000, is the most distinguished watering-place on the Sussex coast, still growing as an example of what can be done by enterprise and judicious patronage along with natural advantages

The description itself is under the heading of Excursions from Eastbourne:

Beachy Head is of course the chief lion here, rising grandly to a height of over 500 feet, about 2 miles west of the town. (Cab fare, with fifteen minutes’ stop, 6s.) There are, at least, three routes-the new carriage drive, bending back over the Downs by the Racecourse ; a middle way that starts from Meads by the back of the Convalescent Hospital, the easiest for walking ; and the rough path by the cliff edge ; or one might take the beach, if the tide be not coming in, whence a path mounts the chalky cliffs to the Coastguard Signal House.

It is clear from the guide that Beachy Head was already attracting plenty of visitors:

On this part of the Downs, there is little likelihood of going astray for want of fellow travellers. Once the climb is over, we have an easy walk over elastic turf that makes walking a delight, unless in very dry weather, when the footing may be slippery. The highest point is marked by the Signal Station, behind which an hotel and restaurant has been established as a branch of the Queen’s/ The view is an extensive one in clear weather, taking in the Isle of Wight, and sometimes even the French coast. Unless by the path below the Signal Station, already mentioned, visitors would do well to be cautious in scrambling upon the crumbling chalk edges, where several accidents have taken place.

This edition of Black’s Guide to Sussex and its Watering Places was the eleventh edition, published in 1898 by Adam and Charles Black of London, England.

Picture Postcard Parade: The Old Belle Toute Lighthouse

31 May

I think this will be the last of my Beachy Head postcards for now, it is time I got back to some more family related postcards. This is one I picked up at the South of England Postcard at Woking, Surrey last weekend.

The Old Belle Toute Lighthouse

This is very similar to the one I showed you three weeks ago, in fact almost identical. The reason I bought this one is for the cachet on the back.

The back of The Old Belle Toute Lighthouse

According to the book Beachy Head by John Surtees this particular cachet was in use before 1920, but I have no other clue about who published this and when. There were apparently four different cachets used by the Watch Tower, I showed you one of the other designs a couple of weeks ago. I just have to find examples of the other two now.

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