All is not as it seems.

By Andy Gilbert

This is one of my favourite photos from the archives at Newhaven Museum. Once again I thank Peter Bailey for letting me share it with you.

This man is obviously walking on water! There was absolutely no camera trickery in those days, and I haven't created it on my PC either, so how was it done?

The truth is that the man is actually walking along one of the wooden beams of the gridiron at the Railway Quay, just south of the Marine Workshops. You can see the remains of this structure to this day, and all of our steamers (but not the car ferries), tugs and dredgers would rest on the gridiron during their refits. When the tide went out, they'd be left high and dry, allowing maintenance and painting to be carried out. Newhaven actually had three such structures. This one, another next to the Watch House, just south of the old Lifeboat slipway and a concrete one south of the entrance to Sleepers Hole, known as the 'South Hard' or simply the 'Hard'.

Back to this photo, and our man is walking and sweeping, just as the water is lapping over the wooden beams, giving the impression of walking on the water. The photo was, I believe, intended as an April Fool's joke, and was featured in 'Life' Magazine at the time. There was no date on the photo in the museum, but the vessel in the background is a paddle steamer, so it's old!

Photo:Sweeping up!

Sweeping up!

Kind permission of Newhaven Museum

This page was added by Andy Gilbert on 29/06/2008.

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