A Timeline - 1900 to Present Day
A chronological record of significant events describing the development of Sidlesham LSA from the 1930s until the present day.
Before the LSAEdit DateEdit Asset
Prior to the arrival of the LSA there was a strong farming tradition in the area.
Some of the pre-existing farms included Bakers, Chalder, Church, Easton, Ferry, Fletchers, Great Ham, Greenwood, Haise, Halsey, Ham, Highleigh, Jury, Keynor, Marblestone, Marsh, Oakhurst, Porthole, Redgate, Rookery, Shotfold and Street End.
Chalk, Cow, Fletchers and Street End Lanes as well as First, Second or Third Avenues in Almodington did not exist at that time - they were built for the LSA.
First ArrivalsEdit DateEdit Asset
The first 'settlers' lived in Keynor Hut while they were being trained and their houses were being built. They were then joined by their wives and children. The photograph shows the first tenants with their familiar outside Keynor Hut. 15 of these families have been identified and contact has been made with the relatives of more than 30 of the original unemployed miners and shipbuilders who came to Sidlesham from the north-east of England and South Wales before the outbreak of World War two.
RoadbuildersEdit DateEdit Asset
A team of roadbuilders, including Jos Aitchison, William Corner and Horace Hook arrived in Sidlesham to construct what are now Chalk, Cow, Street End and Fletchers Lanes in Sidlesham as well as First, Second and Third Avenues in Batchmere.
Stirland Builders (Birdham) was awarded the contract to build the LSA houses.
School expansionEdit DateEdit Asset
A scheme for improvement of the school was carried out including the addition of four large 'sunshine' classrooms as the school role increased from 120 to 284.
Sidlesham School was the first school in England to serve hot meals - on account of the perceived malnourished the LSA children.
Return homeEdit DateEdit Asset
Entries in Sidlesham School's Admissions Records show that several of the early settlers 'returned north', 'went back to Abertillery', 'returned to Durham' as they were unable to adapt to the new way of life. They were replaced by more unemployed miners and shipbuilders until the outbreak of World War Two.
World War TwoEdit DateEdit Asset
The original objectives of the LSA to allocate smallholdings settlements to the unemployed was suspended in order to maximise food production at the outbreak of the war.
Vacant smallholdings were occupied by US and Canadian soldiers.
Some tenants had evacuees from London. including Cowan (No 10), Booth (No 15) and Dixon (No 50)
The Home Guard, comprising a number of LSA tenants, was based at both Keynor Hut and No 88 (Fletchers Lane).
Worst Thunderstorms for 20 yearsEdit DateEdit Asset
The worst thunderstorm to hit the Chichester area for twenty years roared on Tuesday night (10th January 1956) through Sidlesham 'the smallholders village' wreaking thousands of pounds worth of damage to greenhouses and farm buildings. Reported in the Chichester Observer article & The Hampshire Telegraph and Portsmouth Gazette with photo of Henry Grimes (No 84 Fletchers)
Tenants NewsletterEdit DateEdit Asset
Anthony Dungey who lived at No 114 (Batchmere) edited a Tenants Newsletter in the 1960s. Amelia Littler wrote a moving account of the family's move south from Newcastle (See Stories No 32)
Tenants Newsletter (No 38 November 1966)
" A magazine for those Tenants of the Land Settlement Association who have at heart the well-being and unity of the Scheme and its community. STORMY WEATHER AT SIDLESHAM: Tuesday, 18th October. A day of high winds, squally Showers, torrential rain. About 5 p.m. Big storm coming over Batchmere. Just passing West of us and we watch, fascinated by cloud formations sweeping in from the sea. Rain and hail flinging down at the windows, bouncing in a misty • spray from the structure roofs. Thunder now and then. In maybe twenty minutes it has passed and we match the black clouds moving away over Sidlesham. It is all rather unusual but we suffer no damage. Just another one in the sequence of storms brewing in the last day or so. It was not quite the same across the fields at Sidlesham less than two miles away. What was described as a black ball of cloud swept across the fields, up to the Moldings on the Selsey road, and havoc began. The first Holding lost about 50 lights, the next double that, and the third, Mr. Evans', lost some 250 lights in five structures, and then it caught Mr. P.A. Stone's 90 x 30 and lifted it, so eye witnesses say, three times the height of the dwelling-house like a pack of cards. Passing on, the storm missed the next Holding to some extent but whipped off part of the tiled roof of The Anchor public house further on. It was a truly fortunate chance that everyone had gone in to tea, with the exception of a man working in an untouched Penland structure on Mr. Evans' Holding."
The Future?Edit DateEdit Asset
Minutes of the AGM of Sidlesham & Batchmere Tenants Association record "devastating losses incurred by various estates and overall decline in profitability. The growers are concerned that the LSA as a whole will soon be no longer viable."
(LSA Bulletin No 1555 September 1978)
Proposed disbanding of the LSAEdit DateEdit Asset
On December 2nd 1982, Peter Walker announced the proposed disbanding of
the LSA Estates to the House of Commons. All Estates were to be
encouraged to set up their own co-operatives which were to be running by 31st
March the following year.
“A fortnight before Christmas we heard it on the radio one morning that
all the LSA was going to close down. That’s the way we heard it from
the radio. What are you going to do? You just don’t know. And it meant
your packing shed was gone, your maintenance on the house, all those sort
of things that were just going to close. We were just left in the air. It
sorted itself out and I don’t know if it was for the good or for the bad.”
(Arthur Wilson (No 86) on Grime to Groceries BBC Radio 2001)
Sidlesham GrowersEdit DateEdit Asset
Following the closure of the LSA SIdlesham Growers with 89 of the former LSA tenants, led by Ernie Boxall (No 107 Batchmere) was formed.
The LSA Propagation Unit became Almodington Nurseries, managed by former LSA tenants.
Other LSAs set up similar co-operatives, for example: Cambridge Salad Producers (Abington LSA) & Yorkshire Salads (Snaith LSA)
Administration of the Estate.Edit DateEdit Asset
"The administration of the estate is still the responsibility of the Estate Manager and marketing will continue until 30th April 1983. Mr Boxall and his committee have no jurisdiction on the estate, other than organising the new co-operative, until 1st May when they take over the marketing for members of the Co-operative". (LSA Bulletin No 2529)
Closure of Sidlesham GrowersEdit DateEdit Asset
One by one the former LSA tenants retired from Sidlesham Growers or left the area. The reduction in numbers eventually brought about its closure circa 2000, although it is still registered on Companies House website. Almodington Nurseries, the propagation unit for Sidlesham Growers continued trading until 2014.
Heritage TrailEdit DateEdit Asset
A Heritage Trail has been created to commemorate the Sidlesham & Batchmere LSA. The launch of the trail was held at at Keynor (Farm) House with 250 former tenants, staff and their families in June 2015. The launch was previewed on both BBC South Today and BBC Radio Sussex.
A trail leaflet is available. Smartphone users can access an offline trail and/or a copy of the trail leaflet can be downloaded from the home page of this website.
LSA Exhibition & FilmEdit DateEdit Asset
An exhibition explaining the development of the LSA, including our own film, was launched at the Novium Museum in Chichester on 9th November 2015. The film, which combines LSA archive footage and interviews with ex-tenants and staff, was made by Ben Cloud of Millstream Productions (Emsworth). Ben is the great grandson of Henry Cloud, a boiler maker from Palmers Shipyard in Jarrow, who came to Sidlesham in 1936.
Weald and Downland Living MuseumEdit DateEdit Asset
An LSA house (No 144) was dismantled by staff and volunteers from the Weald and Downland Living Museum under the supervision of the curator Julian bell in the Autumn of 2017. The house is now in storage at the museum, awaiting funding to be re-erected.
The LSA house was the home of Godfrey Shirt, an LSA Manager responsible for Central Services, including transport. LSA lorries carried the first buildings to the Weald and Downland museum when it was established in the 1960s. Godfrey became a founder volunteer steward at the museum and his name is on a plaque outside Bayleaf House.
The LSA StoryEdit DateEdit Asset
The LSA story (film and powerpoint presentation) has been told to more than 40 local history, gardening, Women's Institute and other groups in the Chichester area. A display about the LSA and the Sidlesham Heritage Trail featured at the Weald and Downland Living Museum's Rural Life weekends in May 2017 & October 2018 and an exhibition was staged in the museum's Michael Burton Gallery during September 2019.
The rebuild of the LSA house at the museum will ensure that the LSA Story has a permanent home.