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The Fernhurst Society

Newsletter no 38, February 2012


Programme for 2012

Thursday 23rd February
Talk by John Burrow

Village Hall 7.30pm for 8pm

Talk by Fernhurst resident John Burrow
‘How Organised Crime Attacks Our Personal Wealth- A Behind The scenes View by a Local Expert’

Sunday 18th March
Daffodil Walk at West Dean
Meet at Crossfields Carpark at 1.30 pm  

Walk led by Ian Brown to see the wild daffodils in the Singleton/West Dean area.
Transport provided from Fernhurst Crossfields Carpark at 1.30pm

Thursday April 19th
Talk by Mark Perry Nash

Village Hall 7.30pm for 8pm

Mark is a local Sussex historian, talking on ‘Daily Life in a Medieval Sussex Village’

Sunay 20th May
Fernhurst Revels

The Society will again have a stand at the Revels

Sunday 27th May
Walk in Vale Wood

Meet at Crossfields Car Park at 1.30pm

Ian Brown will lead a walk to Vale Wood on the Sussex/Surrey Border to see one of the richest wild flower areas in the country, and normally covered in orchids at this time of the year.

Saturday 2nd June
Exhibition by Fernhurst Archives

Village Hall 10 to 12am

To celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, the Archives are planning an exhibition entitled ‘Jubilees and Jubilations’. The Archives are asking for contributions or loans of any Royal related memorabilia.

Monday 4th June
Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Event on the Fernhurst Village Green

The Parish Council is organising a picnic on the Village Green complete with jazz band etc.

Funhurst Furnace Open Weekend
 Early September tbc

Open Weekend at the Fernhurst Furnace, organised by the Ferhurst Furnace Preservation Society. Normally a fascinating weekend.

Sunday 30th September
Walk on Hankley Common

Meet at the Crossfields Carpark at 1.30pm

A chance to see the fortifications constructed during the war which were used while practising  for the D-Day landings.

Wednesday 10th October
Talk by Tony Creasey

Village Hall 7.30pm for 8pm

Local antiques dealer Tony Creasey will give an inside view of the antiques trade, and may run a bring and discuss session if members bring along interesting portable antiques.

Thursday 23rd November
AGM and Talk by Tanya Pons

Village Hall 7.30pm for 8pm
see Newsletter 40

Tanya will talk on The Lost Cowdray Airfield – otherwise known as the Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) at Selham.



Subscriptions for 2012 : now due
Subscription forms are being sent out over the next few days by post, or sent round by email for those members for whom we have email addresses. If you haven’t yet paid your 2012 subscription, please do so now. We have introduced online payment which is secure and convenient, allowing you to pay by credit card or via a PayPal account. Just visit to pay online. If you are a life member, please just ignore this!

The Society needs a Chairman!
The Society has been running for the past 2 years without a chairman. The chairman’s role is not onerous, especially as there’s an enthusiastic and dedicated committee that runs the Society, but it does need a chairman to lead and develop it. It can take as little as an hour of effort each month, plus chairing half a dozen committee meetings each year. If you know someone who could take on this role, please contact myself or one of the committee members.

Richard Ranft: Acting Chairman

Review of Recent Events

27th October 2011: A Talk on the History and Restoration of the Wey and Arun Canal – London’s Lost Route to the Sea
David King from the Wey and Arun Canal Trust gave an illustrated talk on the history and restoration of the Wey and Arun Canal. The canal was originally built to provide a route from London to Portsmouth. Britain was at war with France and needed an inland route to get money and provisions from London to the Navy in Portsmouth, avoiding the sea route patroled by Napoleon’s Navy.

Started in 1813, the canal runs from the River Wey to the River Arun. It is 23 miles long with 26 locks and 23 bridges. However by the time construction finished in 1816, the war with Napoleon was over and the canal never became a commercial success, with only 10% of capacity ever used. It finally closed in 1847. Introduction of the railways was a major factor in the decline of the canal, and all canals in the country.

The canal lay derelict for over 100 years before the Canal Trust was formed in 1971. Volunteers began the laborious task of scrub clearance and devising the long term plan for restoration. They would have to re-profile the canal bed, restore existing bridges and build new ones, restore three aquaducts, restore all the locks and re-route the canal around a housing development in Bramley.

It was estimated that even using volunteer labour that the cost for the complete restoration would be £80 to £100 million , a daunting figure without any government or lottery funding. The Trust have relied on funds raised by volunteers with £5 million raised so far, and 23,000 hours voluntary work expended.

The main section opened so far is 3 miles long at Loxwood and work is in progress to extend the canal northwards to the highest point at Dunsfold, and on to Bramley where ultimately a new canal route will need to be made around the housing estate built over the original canal. Southband Lock, 2 miles north of Loxwood, opens in April 2012, which will open up a long section to Dunsfold. This section still has water in it but requires re-profiling and puddling to stop leaks. Going south it is possible to restore the canal as far as Drungewick Aqueduct, beyond which landowner access issues prevent further progress.

So far a new lock and bridge have been built under the main road at Loxwood, 3 aquaducts restored and 8 locks restored. This has allowed the Trust to place 3 narrow boats on the canal at the headquaters in Loxwood and operate boat trips as a source of funding.

The enthusiasm and dedication of the Trust and their Volunteers was evident from the talk and they do not appear to be over awed by the mamoth task of completing the restoration in the (distant?) future.

24th November 2011: AGM and Talk by Peter Monger – Hong Kong to West Sussex – an 80’s train journey
Peter Monger, one of our Society Committee Members, gave an illustrated talk on his return to the UK after working in Hong Kong – not by the normal route by air but overland by train through China, Mongolia and Russia.

At the time independent travel through these countries was almost impossible but by using a good travel  agent, Peter was able to get special permits to make several detours from the international train.

Leaving Hong Kong, he took the train to Beijing/Peking stopping at one or two cities to visit various temples and historic sites. In Beijing, he caught the Trans Mongolian Express, an international train that Westerners were allowed to use. This travelled through the arid Northern Chinese region of Inner Mongolia passing into Mongolia itself, and its capital Ulaanbaatar. While normally impossible to leave the train, Peter had the required permit and was able to spend time in this rarely visited city, with its Gandan Buddist Monastery, and visit the surrounding bleak countryside.

At the Russian border, the rail gauge changes from standard gauge (4’ 8½”) to Russian gauge (4’ 11⅝”) so much time was expended lifting each carriage and changing the bogies. The train now joined the Trans Siberian express, going from Vladivostock to Moscow. The line soon passes Lake Baikal, the largest freshwater lake in Asia, and the deepest in the world (at 3893ft deep). The lake contains 1700 species of plants and animals – two thirds of them unique to the lake.

Now the train spends days crossing the arid plains and birch forests of Siberia, passing Irkutsk, Novosibirsk and Omsk to Kazan in Tartarstan and finally to Moscow. Total distance of nearly 8,000 km from Beijing and 10,000 km from Hong Kong.

Peter showed many fascinating images illustrating features of these Communist countries at a time when they were rarely visited.


Archive Report: February 2012

Discussions started at our AGM in January for an exhibition of Fernhurst’s connections with royalty as part of the village’s celebrations to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Provisionally entitled ‘Jubilees and Jubilations’, it will take place on the morning of Sat 2 June in the Village Hall.

Since our Annual Report to the Society’s AGM, the team have been dealing with enquiries, one from a former pupil of Fernden School enquiring about photos for a School reunion, and another regarding a grandfather’s WW1 comrade and long-time Fernhurst friend (James Stanley Bicknell). Both enquiries entailed a considerable amount of sleuthing, mostly on Brenda’s part.

Iain attended the event officially finalising the WSRO’s ‘Joining up our Heritage’ and came back with ideas on how we can expand the work we did on our contribution. We are also going to liaise with Midhurst U3A to look at their approach.

Iain and Christine attended Rosemary Northway’s presentation to the Good Companions on her life at Stanley Farm, 1960s to 1990s, sans electricity and mains water.

Belinda has identified a number of computer queries and problems and is sorting these out with Karl Thacker.

Hilary Adair donated a DVD of her hand-coloured 1st edition of the OS map of Sussex of 1813.

Christine Maynard : Fernhurst Archive


Fernhurst Junior Society

The programme of walks for the Junior Fernhurst Society will be announced in due course. As usual anyone wishing to participate should contact Sue Gibbon for full details