From the 1950s

By Andy Gilbert

At our recent 10th anniversary event, we were given some old black and white postcards, dating from the 1950s. A couple of them are well known and have already appeared on Our Newhaven, but having mint condition original cards meant that we could could scan them to the highest quality this time.

Image No.1 is a view of Newhaven breakwater and Seaford Bay, taken from Claremont Road in Seaford. The No.12 bus from Eastbourne has just turned onto the Promenade heading towards Bishopstone Station and then Newhaven. No Buckle Bypass in those days, of course. Note the end of the 30mph speed limit, so the bus - and anyone else - could go along much faster than they can today!

Image No.2 is the 'classic' view of the cross channel steamer entering Newhaven. The steamer in this case is the French-flagged, Arromanches, which entered service in 1947. She was built before the war and captured by the German forces whilst still uncompleted. As her engines were not yet installed, they did nothing with her, unlike her twin sister Londres, which became the minelayer Lothringen for the Kriegsmarine.

As always in those days, a large crowd is there to watch the steamer enter, and if you look at the signal mast near the West Pier lighthouse, you'll see that it has a railway type signal to allow ships to enter or leave. Well, this was a railway port, so what else would they use?

Finally, Image No.3 is a view of the harbour taken from Hillcrest Road. At the East Quay, and preparing to sail, is the Brighton (VI) of 1950. Sailing up river is the Worthing, of 1928. Judging by the lighting angle, this is late afternoon, so she would presumably be heading to the night berth, where she would disembark her passengers, then swing ready for the evening's crossing. Having these two ships in the same image allows us to date it between Brighton's arrival in 1950 and Worthing's sale to Greek owners in 1955.

The southern part of Sleepers Hole is still mainly mud - it would be almost another ten years before it was was dredged out to build Cresta Marina. At the extreme left of the image, you can just see the Harbour Watch House, with its large signal mast. Moored at the berth at the northern end is a landing craft, with the number 101x. I can't find any photos matching that number, unfortunately.

If you look between the two houses at the right, you'll see some railway trucks, remember that in those days, there was a track all the way down the West Quay and right out to the end of the breakwater.

Photo:Seaford Bay and Newhaven breakwater

Seaford Bay and Newhaven breakwater

Old Postcard

Photo:Arromanches enters the harbour

Arromanches enters the harbour

Old Postcard

Photo:Newhaven Harbour and cross channel steamers Brighton and Worthing

Newhaven Harbour and cross channel steamers Brighton and Worthing

Old Postcard

This page was added by Andy Gilbert on 17/10/2017.
Comments about this page

Really interesting photos! As Andy says, image 3 must be taken between 1950 and 1955, but I also notice that the East Pier appears to be intact. As far back as I remember, a collision-damaged section was bridged by a curved span (visible in other photos on this website). Does anyone know when this damage occurred?  If so, this might give an even closer date.

Can anyone identify the enormous structure on the right of image 1? I don't remember having seen this and, with the absence of post-war cars in the picture, I would say this was taken not much later than 1950. Although it might be reasonable to assume the bus is on ser.12 from Eastbourne, I am fairly sure this one is on ser.123 from Seaford (Vale Road) to Lewes, alternate ones continuing to Haywards Heath (I won't bore non-bus people with my reasoning!).

Does anyone remember the diversionary route avoiding The Buckle in heavy weather before the by-pass was constructed?  There were warning signs, illuminated when required, near the Bishopstone turning and in Claremont Road, adjacent to the railway coal yard. Buses from Newhaven would turn up what is now called Hill Rise, follow left along the top and, after some bends, descend into a steep-sided valley and up the other side to join Firle Road, then Belgrave Road and rejoin the normal route at Claremont Road. Between the turn-off and Firle Road was all open fields; today, most is built-up and it is not possible to follow this diversion.



By Bruce Macphee
On 20/10/2017

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