Caroline Bullen reports on the day members of The Chichester Society visited the new Selsey onshore Lifeboat Station on 26th June 2019.
As everyone assembled outside the station, the weather conditions were much more favourable than the previous visit in rain and high winds shortly before the old station was demolished, in 2016.
The visit was scheduled for 11am, but upon arrival we were told that the all-weather Shannon class lifeboat named ‘Denise and Eric’ had been launched for a training exercise.
So it was decided to have the indoor presentation until the boat returned. News then suddenly came through that the lifeboat was in fact on it’s way back, so everyone returned to the launch area. As it happened, this was a great opportunity to see ‘Denise and Eric’ being beached on to the shingle, ready to be skilfully manoeuvred by the impressive recovery system team. A great photo opportunity!
The Launch Recovery System was initiated to haul the boat onto the tractor unit and return it to base. Mike Cole, the Station Education and Visits Officer then invited members back inside the station building to give a detailed account and presentation of the new Shannon AWL 13-20 and a D class inshore lifeboat (ILB D-827 ‘Flt Lt John Buckley RAF).
Joined by Colin, whose task is to ensure the boat gets safely ‘in and out’ of the sea, members then had the opportunity to ask questions.
Launched from the beach, the 18 tonne, ‘self righting’ Shannon lifeboat, performs better the faster it goes. Fuel is specially delivered to the station by a road tanker to fill the Shannon’s 5,000 litre fuel tank. Costing £2.2 million, the Shannon, whose engine is completely waterproof, does 2 nautical miles to one gallon of fuel.
Shock absorbing seats further protect the 6 crew from impact when pounding through the waves. Of the 34 at the station, 32 are volunteers. A mechanic is on site and daily and monthly checks are made as well as an annual review. At one time, all volunteers were fishermen, today however, they number only 4.
The 37 tonne, tractor Launch Recovery System, ‘Miss Eileen Beryl Phillips,’ costing £1.5 million is designed and manufactured at Clayton Engineering in Knighton, Powys, Wales. Designed for the Shannon class lifeboats, it revolutionises the way lives are saved at sea. It can tow boats up steep, shingle beaches and can be driven straight into big surf and safely launch the boat in up to 2.4m of water. In the event of a breakdown with an incoming tide, the water-tight tractor can be completely submerged in depths up to 9 m before being retrieved once the tide is receded in complete working order.
Once recovered from the beach, bow first, a unique turntable cradle rotates the Shannon 180 degrees ready for her next launch. Larger windows and CCTV give volunteer tractor drivers better visibility. A hydraulic system means that the height of the whole rig can be reduced to fit inside the boathouses. The reduced time of launching with such an impressive system, certainly makes a difference.
It is far from those days back in 1861 when it all began with a double-banked lifeboat, 35 feet long and using 12 oars which was transported from Chichester. The boat, costing £180 was presented to the institution by members of the Society of Friends.
Members were interested in seeing old photographs of the encroachment of the sea and its impact upon the position of the station over time.
With it’s 155 year history, the Crew have been presented with 10 awards for gallantry. Their dedication and bravery in saving lives is phenomenal and in the words of Mike Cole, they are all one big ‘happy family.’
Visit over, members made their way over to a pre-booked lunch at the Lifeboat Inn – an opportunity to chat and reflect upon on a noteworthy charity who provides a 24 hour lifeboat search and rescue service to save lives at sea.
Editor Elizabeth Williamson on challenges facing her team
to update a 54 year old classic
Chichester Society members have probably consulted, or even own, a copy of The Buildings of England: Sussex, by Ian Nairn and Nikolaus Pevsner, first published in 1965. It covers the historic county, treating the post-1888 East and West Sussex as two separate sections in a single volume. Nikolaus Pevsner’s East Sussex was revised by the late Nicholas Antram and published as Sussex: East in 2013. At last the West Sussex volume is complete and is now available in bookshops.
What can you expect to find that’s new and what has been preserved from the original Sussex? The foundation is Ian Nairn’s West Sussex section, with some interventions by Pevsner, and the swathe of Pevsner’s East Sussex consigned to West Sussex in 1974. It has taken three authors to bring it all up-to-date. The team grew as work progressed. Tim Hudson took on Arundel and Chichester (apart from the Cathedral and Close, revised by John Crook), Midhurst and Petworth, places south of a line from Southbourne to Eartham, all but one of Lutyens’ houses, and the Charterhouse in Cowfold. Jeremy Musson has worked on the remainder of Chichester District, that is, eastwards to Loxwood and Bury. Other significant contributors were Bernard Worssam and David Rudling for specialist introductions to the county’s geology and archaeology. David also checked and updated all archaeology entries and wrote new ones including Roman Chichester and Chichester’s City Walls. ‘Pevsner guides’ would be an impossible task without the help of dozens of experts on particular localities and subjects, many of whose names you will recognise in the Acknowledgements – where we also thank those who kindly invited us into houses, churches and public buildings.
Spotting stylistic contrast
Should the reader detect differences in style and content in the easterly parishes, that is at least partly due to the distinctive approaches of the original authors. Pevsner regretted that Nairn ‘… found that he could no longer bear to write the detailed descriptions which are essential’ once he had completed West Sussex, acknowledging that ‘Mr Nairn has a greater sensibility to landscape and townscape than I have, and he writes better than I could ever hope to write. On the other hand, those who want something a little more cataloguey … may find my descriptions more to their liking.’ A balance has been struck: the original authors’ intentions and words have been preserved where appropriate but often fresh research and more time to investigate have required fresh beginnings or almost complete overhaul.
Probably most important to Society members is the new information about Chichester and its immediate surroundings. At the centre is John Crook’s account of the Cathedral, prefaced by a splendid new introduction clearly explaining the building phases. There is new information too about the Close, including rare survivals like the C13 roof of St Faith’s chapel in St Faith’s House. In the town, Tim Hudson has cast a critical eye over the most recent additions: Pallant House Gallery, with a ‘lumpish S front’, and the Novium, ‘unrelated to its surroundings’, do not come off unscathed, though there is praise for the ‘appropriate’ additions to the Festival Theatre. Some older modern buildings are reappraised. One is Marriott Lodge, which, at the time of the first edition, was planned as an extension to the Theological College at No. 3 Westgate. New discoveries have been made about older buildings presented here as ‘Perambulations’. Within a short walk along West Street one can find out about such diverse subjects as: the 21st century sculpture of St Richard; the Prebendal School’s medieval fabric; Edes House and its seventeenth-century interior; the original purpose of former St Peter’s Church; and the architect of the Oliver Whitby School (until recently House of Fraser).
Useful attention is given to historical development. Along the coast for example, Selsey has been separated from the ancient Church Norton and given its due as a seaside resort; there are some special early C20 buildings including large Arts-and-Crafts houses, notably The Bill House by Baillie Scott. On Thorney Island the RAF Officers’ Mess takes its place alongside the medieval church and rectory.
A huge range of information is to be found throughout this volume from church monuments, medieval wall paintings and war memorials to the architects of Victorian churches and schools; architectural histories of great houses such as Cowdray, Petworth and West Dean; and the local character of cottages and village halls. New for this edition are discussions of challenging modern designs, particularly those for the Goodwood and Wakehurst estates and at the Weald and Downland Museum, with its collection of vernacular buildings. This West Sussex volume of The Buildings of England series will guide you to the best of the county’s architecture. And the colour photography is fantastic!
Elizabeth Williamson is former editor of the Pevsner Architectural Guides. Tim Hudson is a former editor of the Victoria County History for Sussex. Jeremy Musson is an architectural historian, consultant, and author.
An earlier article by Tim Hudson published during the planning phase for the update is available here
(This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of the Society’s Newsletter)
When one studies William Gardner’s map of the City of Chichester dated 1769 it becomes clear how little of the really important elements of our great City have actually changed over all the years.
Nairn and Pevsner in their 1965 edition of the Buildings of England record that the Romans occupied Chichester almost immediately after the conquest and encircled its 100 acres with a wall much of which remains today. It misses its four cardinal gates and perhaps these could be reinstated.
But within its walls lie not only the Cathedral, distant views of which are dominant within the largely flat landscape, but also its precincts, the Market Cross, St Mary’s Hospital and a plethora of Georgian architecture lining its medieval street pattern. Of all the periods of English building, none has surpassed the Georgian era and we have numerous examples of houses rebuilt from about 1700. Dr Thomas Sharp’s 1949 report Georgian City commissioned by the City Council includes the pertinent remark that ‘Chichester is a very special city indeed which probably holds more of the purity and true essence of its type than any now remaining in England. It is an important and irreplaceable part of the national heritage’.
The Chichester Society Executive Committee believes that this kind of history could make Chichester a prime candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Status when one considers the good fit we make with UNESCO’s criteria for selection spelt out below. It can take years to submit an application but these delays may be acceptable if Chichester becomes better known both nationally and internationally. Our September newsletter will be asking our members what they think.
Do you agree that we should try? Please let us have your comments
The Selection Criteria for Inclusion
To be included on the World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria.
Until the end of 2004, World Heritage sites were selected on the basis of six cultural and four natural criteria. With the adoption of the revised Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention, only one set of ten criteria exists.
to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;
to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;
to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The (UNESCO) Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);
to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
The protection, management, authenticity and integrity of properties are also important considerations. Since 1992 significant interactions between people and the natural environment have been recognized as cultural landscapes.
The extent of our history was captured in part by our Heritage Trails -details of which are on our website here where they are available in downloadable form or can be followed on a smartphone or tablet as you walk around our City. Printed versions may be available from the Novium and other locations.
The Society has objected on 15 July to the plannng application 19/01531/REM – All outstanding Reserved Matters for the erection of 91 dwellings with associated parking, landscaping, informal open space and associated work on Phase 2, Parcel B, pursuant to permission 14/04301/OUT.
The Executive Committee had the following comments on this application and asked the Council to seek modification of these details of the proposal to improve the contribution of this development in the growth of Chichester.
We support the local objectors’ concern that no traffic measures are being implemented for improvement in safety or dealing with congestion and air quality on the Old Broyle Road and St Paul’s Road .
The implementation of the architectural character studies has been disappointing and is restricted to random sprinkling of brick colours render finish and artificial slate and concrete tile roofs. We couldn’t ascertain what materials and finish are proposed for windows and external doors. Unlike Parcel A there are no chimneys or 2.5 storey features proposed but as for the earlier phase more articulation of facades and attaching of detached houses to form architectural groups would improve place making.
Parcel B, like Parcel A, is remote from all community facilities and the current 2 hourly bus service into the City produces a car dependent settlement. This is exacerbated by the lack of permeability out of the site for cyclists and pedestrians.
The provision of tandem parking to many houses is a difficult feature in user experience.
There needs to be a proposal for landscaping the buffer zone between Parcel B and the retained Whitehouse Farm property to the east.
Security for public open spaces should be provided with r-orientating houses to overlook
The Society relies heavily on volunteers and we have a wonderful ‘bunch’ helping with such tasks as stuffing envelopes, hand-delivery of the Newsletter and membership administration. So now the Chichester Society is seeking a part-time Treasurer for October this year to join the ‘team’ when the present incumbent Bob Wiggins retires after 3 years in the role.
‘Treasurer’ sounds daunting but in essence it is to keep proper financial records and to demonstrate this by producing an annual statement of the financial position of the Society. To provide more details the tasks involved are summarised below and as you will see the volumes or effort involved do not in any way require full time commitment – just as and when needed by the matters at hand.
Issuing cheques (2 signatories are required to sign, one being the Treasurer) – approx 40 pa
Receiving monies (cash and cheques) and paying into bank – approx 50 cheques pa
Depositing and recording standing orders with the relevant banks – approx 15pa
Recording subscriptions received against relevant members and identifying and following-up non-payers – approx 380 members pa (most pay in Jan/Feb when standing orders operate)
Recording receipts and payments – approx 112 spread over the year
Reconciling records with monthly bank statements – approx 112 entries pa
Providing quarterly financial reports to the Society’s Executive Committee – 4 reports
Preparing annual accounts and paperwork for the External Examiner and obtaining approval from the Executive for his report – approx over 2 weeks around August-September (our year end is 31 August)
Presenting the Annual accounts to the AGM (October) – oral and written presentation
Managing Gift Aid details and claims – usually twice pa around May and September using template provided by HMRC
Managing Society details with Charity Commission – approx 1 week over the year
Issuing invoices and receipts for the Society (currently mainly to advertisers) – approx 12 pa
The present record keeping systems used by the Treasurer are as follows:
Membership application forms, standing orders and gift aid declarations for each member are filed as paper copies in membership number order (Membership contact details are managed and kept by a separate Membership Secretary) It is anticipated that the incoming Treasurer will continue maintaining the paper records)
Membership subscription and donation details for members are held electronically in a Microsoft Access database (The Access database could continue if there is familiarity with the software – otherwise it could be converted to a spreadsheet format or even managed on paper, albeit less efficiently)
Receipts and payments are held electronically using freely available software VT Cash Book available here (also used by the External Examiner). (It is preferable for use of VT Cash Book to continue, but its records can be exported to MS Excel and managed thereafter in that format – or even on paper , but much less efficiently)
Bob Wiggins will be available to smooth the transfer of duties and demonstrate and explain the 3 records keeping systems.
So are you interested? Or do you know someone who would like to develop experience in the work or software used or could help in elements of these duties to add to their CV? We are happy to clarify or discuss any aspect further.
If interested or have any queries please reply via our contact page.
One Cicestrian to witness the city’s changes is author and historian Alan Green
This 1959 aerial photograph provides a telling snapshot of the city as it was 60 years ago and is very nostalgic for me as it shews the Chichester of my boyhood. As a (true) Cicestrian I have observed closely the changes that have occurred over those 60 years and will point out just a few features that can be seen in the view.
Most striking from the first glance is the vast open expanse of Westgate Fields (B) which at the time were the city’s water meadows, stretching down to the harbour intersected only by the railway and the A27. For a boy growing up in Chichester in the 1950s and 60s, Westgate Fields was a lotus land: a busy shunting yard to be observed from the long footbridge, the River Lavant and its many tributaries, copious mud and many dogs. Loss of the fields began in 1962 with the building of Chichester College, followed in 1964 by the ring road (Avenue de Chartres) which cut across from Southgate to Westgate, then a car park (later to be redeveloped as multi-storey) and a rapid expansion of the college, all of which completely filled the area north of the railway. South of the railway the Terminus Road Industrial Estate was to spread westwards to occupy the fields down to the A27 (F) .
More lost open land can be seen to the north of the photograph. In 1959 East Broyle Farm (X) had just been sold for a private housing development. Starting in 1961, 412 houses were progressively built on the site known as the East Broyle Estate. Just below that was Little Breech Farm (Y)whichwas also to be developed for housing from 1967,this time by the City Council to provide affordablehomes.
The other expanse of open ground is Oaklands Park (C) where a notable absence from the photo is the Festival Theatre. Leslie Evershed-Martin had had his brainwave in 1959 but construction was not to start until 1961, bringing the one major change that surely no-one would dispute as having been for the better. The theatre apart, Oaklands Park has miraculously escaped the attentions of developers.
It is noticeable how the westward expansion of the city had been arrested by the Midhurst railway line (E). Although it had lost its passenger services in 1935, a stump of the line still served Lavant, conveying sugar beet. When this traffic ceased the line served new gravel workings near Brandy Hole Lane whence trains took the mineral to Drayton, thus obviating heavy lorry movements through the city. When this in turn ceased in 1991, the line was turned into a cycleway/footpath known, by dint of someone’s baffling logic, as Centurion Way. The Romans did many things for Chichester but railways were not amongst them! Staying with transport, Southdown’s bus operations had transferred in 1956 from West Street to a purpose-built bus station in Southgate. The adjacent, and brand new, bus garage (Q) has a thin shell, prestressed concrete roof whose clear span was ground-breaking for its era. Although locally listed, its future is now under threat from the Southern Gateway Development Plan.
In Stockbridge Road is the gasworks (O). This had stopped producing coal gas in 1958 when gas was piped up from Portsmouth, The south end of the site was redeveloped as the GPO sorting office in 1964 but the gasholders were to remain in use until the arrival of North Sea Gas in 1970. The north end of the site would eventually be redeveloped by McCarthy and Stone as Brampton Court.
Schools, Ancient, Modern and Revised
In New Park Road can be seen what is now the New Park Centre (L) with whose facilities most readers will be familiar. In 1959 however, it was still the Central Junior Boys’ School where I numbered amongst its pupils. The school was to move to Orchard Street in 1964 after which the site was earmarked for redevelopment. Fortunately, it was to be saved by a vigorous campaign to convert it into a community centre – a victory for democracy! In 1962 I moved on to Chichester High School for Boys (I) in Kingsham Road. In the photograph its extensive playing fields can be seen, but the eastern end of them have long since been developed for housing (Herald Drive) and most of the outlying school buildings have since been demolished. The remaining buildings were abandoned in 2014. They still exist, but only just as they are boarded up awaiting their fate: Chichester High School for Boys was to cease to be just two years later.
Chichester High School for Girls was then in Stockbridge Road (J). After it had amalgamated with the Lancastrian Girls’ School in 1971 it progressively moved to newer premises in Kingsham and the Stockbridge site was abandoned. Chichester Gate was built on its playing field in 2003 and recently the main school building was converted into student flats.
Industry and Infirmary
Almost opposite the Boys’ High in Kingsham Road was Wingard’s factory (P) . Wingard made seatbelts and other automotive products and were a major employer in Chichester. They were taken over by Britax who eventually relocated after which the site was converted into housing.
Chichester still had two main hospitals in 1959; The Royal West Sussex (M) in Broyle Road and St Richard’s (S)off Spitalfield Lane. Both were relativelysmall so the two gradually amalgamated at StRichard’s which was to expand exponentially into thecurrent hospital. The ‘Royal West’ (as it was knownlocally) was converted into apartments namedForbes Place after one of its founders. There wasalso the separate Isolation Hospital on the south sideof Spitalfield Lane [not indicated] but that closed inthe 1960s. I can claim to have been an inmate of allthree!
The Cattle Market (K) was still very active in 1959 with cattle arriving by train, being grazed overnight in Westgate Fields and then driven to market on the hoof. The photo shews the site covered with sheds and pens all of which were to be swept away in 1990 when the market closed and was converted into – yes – another car park.
Also seen still standing is the east side of Somerstown (N) This late Georgian development of artisan housing, had been condemned in 1958 as slums by Chichester City Council – a controversial action challenged in the national press by Sir Lawrence Olivier no less. Protest fell on deaf ears though and all was swept away in 1964. The site lay empty for 10 years before redevelopment took place but, whilst the new housing estate perpetuated the name Somerstown, it was a very poor substitute for what had been lost. Mercifully the west side of Somerstown was to be spared, its erstwhile ‘slums’ now being considered highly desirable residences. There was also to be destruction of many Georgian buildings in Southgate and Westgate in order to accommodate the ends of the aforementioned ring road, and this took place in 1963-65.
On the other side of Broyle Road is the Sloe Fair Field (V) taking its name from the eponymous fair that had taken place annually by Royal Charter since 1107. The field was tarmacked over to form a new car park in 1961 which deprived the fair of much of its charm. It invariably rained on 20 October resulting in the field becoming a quagmire making squelching through the mud an added attraction.
Much of the change over the last 60 years has beeninevitable in order to provide for an ever expandingpopulation, but some, such as the wanton destructionof the east side of Somerstown and the obliteration ofthe water meadows, is difficult to forgive. One wouldlike to think that such would not happen today…
The same aerial view in 2079 will shew Whitehouse Farm (Z)developed with its 1,600 houses – but whatelse besides one wonders? I for one will not be hereto see it!
Alan Green is chairman of Chichester Conservation Area Advisory Committee and the author of several books on the city’s history.
(This article originally appeared in the March 2019 issue of the Society’s Newsletter. To see more from this issue go to our past Newsletters page)
The Chichester Society objected to various matters that arose in the planning application from Miller Homes and Linden Homes concerning the erection of 73 dwellings in Land West of Centurion Way and West of Old Broyle Road.
In particular the following objections were made:
The overlong access drive to the SANG car parking creates an un-necessary suburban
element of what is currently a country road out of the City.
The provision of tandem parking to most houses is a difficult feature in user experience.
The implementation of the architectural character studies has been disappointing in particular with the provision of dummy chimneys, painted brick facades, uPVC windows and that more articulation of facades and attaching of detached houses to form architectural groups would improve place making.
This first phase to be built is well screened, but is remote from all community facilities and the current 2 hourly bus service into the City produces a car dependent settlement.
The preponderance of culs de sac adds to vehicle journey lengths.
The affordable and shared ownership housing is readily identifiable ranged along the side closest to traffic noise rather than scattered throughout the estate.
The reference document in question is the West of Chichester Residential Architectural Design Strategy available to view here as Part 1 and Part 2.
Full details of the planning application 19/01134/REM and of comments made can be viewed on the Council website here.
An application was lodged by Mr Kieran Stanley in March relating to the property ‘Feather and Black’ in Terminus Road to create “a Dinner Dance Show Experience with Live Shows and Late night Music to be enjoyed by all ages and families” designed for all types of celebrity acts. Opening times for restaurant, dining and leisure use envisage from 12:00 (13:00 on Sunday) to 03:00 every day.
The Society’s Executive Committee would welcome the provision of a major venue in Chichester and believe there is an opportunity to provide this in a purpose-built facility within the Southern Gateway Regeneration Area close to a rebuilt City Transport Hub. However they were of the opinion that this Terminus Road property is not suitable for this purpose and would be better utilised for relocating the bus depot and post office to
free up the Southern Gateway site.
Their specific objections were:
The hours of operation and the large audience numbers will cause a noise and behavioural nuisance for residents.
This property does not offer adequate parking nor acoustic insulation.
The proposed use would clash with the recently permitted change of use to a church at the adjacent Ambulance Station.
There are not adequate or believable studies submitted regarding fire safety, acoustic performance, and the traffic plan of the proposed use with the large audience numbers.
Full details of the application and of responses from the public can be found here
Hard on the heels of the Government’s announcement of the establishment, amid much controversy, of its ‘Building Better. Building Beautiful Commission’ came the news that the Housing Project of the Year under the British Construction Industry Awards for 2018 had gone to Rousillon Park in Chichester, the site of the former military barracks.
The project was commissioned by Homes England and designed by architect Ben Pentreath and adopts a traditional street layout that responds to the historic street patterns within Chichester. A narrow, gridded street pattern links a series of green public spaces. Built on the site of the town’s military barracks, brick predominates but with the occasional use of the local grey sandstone and Sussex flint.
The architectural language adopts the scale, proportion and materials of traditional town houses, but is designed to feel intentionally contemporary in its restraint, with more modern detailing of elements such as doors, windows and railings. William Smalley Architectsalso worked on the design of houses.
Construction commenced in 2012 and the site was completed in 2018.
(Thanks to Stuart Tappin for referencing the item in the Ancient Monuments Society Newsletter and to Ben Pentreath for information from their website)
The Chichester proposed parking management plan went out for consultation earlier this year and related to the earlier Roadspace Audit study which can be found here.
The study included various recommendations relating to parking and it to these that the Chichester Society has responded. Members of the Chichester Society’s Executive Committee visited the various displays and discussed the substance of the study. Their response has been submitted and can be found here.