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NEWHAVEN HISTORICAL SOCIETY CELEBRATES 50 YEARS

December 2nd 2019.


Newhaven Historical Society will be celebrating its 50th anniversary at its meeting tomorrow, Tuesday the 3rd of December, at Hillcrest Centre. Its origins were in the formation of the Newhaven and Seaford Historical Society, by local history enthusiasts, Peter Bailey, Ron Britchfield, Tony Payne and George Jakens.


The first public meeting took place on April the 29th 1969 at the Ferry Boat Inn, where a packed audience heard a talk about the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway.

Further trailblazing occurred in 1971 when a museum was opened on the West Quay area at Newhaven. The building, measuring eight feet by twelve feet, had once been the harbour pilot’s watch house and the society paid five pounds a year rental, which included electricity. Its most recent use had been a store room, with an accumulation of junk and coal. It was cleared out, re-roofed and a porch built to hold back the south-westerly winds. The entrance charge was set at 5p – a shilling in the old money.

Although the building could only display pictures on the wall and a few photo albums, it proved most popular and was soon overwhelmed with old photographs, paintings and artefacts.

Following on from a fund-raising campaign, together with grants from the council and donations from local firms, a pre-fabricated building was bought and erected near the cliffs below Newhaven Fort. The new museum opened during the summer of 1974 and the increased space was rapidly filled with thousands of photos, items dragged from the seabed and historical memorabilia relating to the area. Eventually the building began to burst at the seams. Security was a problem and during the 1987 storm it was invaded by water.

In 1995, the Society was offered a home by the proprietors of Paradise Park in Newhaven and the museum, in its spacious new home, opened at Easter in the same year. Television actress Judy Cornwell cut the ribbon and declared the museum open, much to the delight of the Curator and founding member of the Society – Peter Bailey.

Today, the Newhaven Historical Society continues to operate the museum as well as organising five ‘open to all’ evening meetings when guest speakers give presentations on a variety of subjects. In addition, the volunteers who run the Society deal with enquiries from throughout the U.K. and all over the world, from those seeking information about their family history and other matters connected with the town and surrounding areas.

Tomorrow's meeting will celebrate the 50th birthday of the Society prior to a talk on 'Sussex Inn Signs and their History' by Sussex historian Janet Pennington at 7.30pm.

Doors will open at 6.00pm for light refreshments and non-members are welcome to attend the evening - £5.00 entrance.

For further information contact Will Pillfold Tel: 01273 517603