LOOKING BACK: Town’s rich history revealed in pictures

'Then and now' photographs tell the story of Hailsham's development
'Then and now' photographs tell the story of Hailsham's development

A fascinating new book traces in photographs the many ways in which Hailsham has changed and developed over the last century and more.

Hailsham Through Time is a rich collection of ‘then and now’ images which offer an insight into the history of the market town.

It has been produced by Hailsham Historical Society and features not only Victorian and Edwardian photographs but also ones taken well within living memory.

Many residents will recall the Southdown Bus Garage in Bellbanks Road which was built in 1965 on the site of a steam-driven sawmill.

The garage was demolished in 1989 and the Southdown Court sheltered housing and retirement home was built on the site - opened in 1994 by the Beverley Sisters.

The gasometer next door was also dismantled and replaced by a small housing development.

A view of George Street from Market Square circa 1960 shows how Hailsham has lost many historically interesting buildings over the years, including the one housing Ellis’s grocers shop and Puttock’s ironmongers. It was dismantled in 1963 and replaced by a new building designed to look very similar to the shop it replaced and so, apart from the ugly street furniture, the modern-day scene does not look very different.

A photograph dating from 1960 of the High Sreet and Vicarage Field has the air of a rural village about it. The latter was used to graze cattle and was the venue for visiting fairs and circuses. All that changed in the mid-1960s when the Vicarage Field shopping centre was built. Older readers will remember one of the treasures of the High Street - The Good Intent, believed to date from the 17th century, was pictured in about 1930.

Like many pubs it had a number of different names over the years, including The Conquering Hero and The Jolly Sailor. It closed in 1957 and reopened in the 1960s as The Homely Maid china shop before once again becoming a place of refreshment.

Hailsham has undergone enormous expansion since the dawn of the 19th century. Census figures show the population was just under 900 in 1801 and the town consisted of no more than four streets and a few twittens clustered around the church and Market Square on the edge of Hailsham Common. The population is now more than 21,000.

Hailsham Through Time (Amberley Publishing) is priced at £14.99.

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