One of the pictures accompanying Peter Longstaff-Tyrrell’s feature ‘World War II eclipses activity at Wilmington’ [September 9] brought back nostalgic memories for me. This showed the old aerodrome building that was accessed by a lane off the A27.
In 1954 my family opened up a business in Seaside, Eastbourne, called ‘Elizabeth’s Pet Shop.’ My father had been a tenant of The Windsor Tavern pub in Langney Road, and he decided to move out when the brewery firm Charrington’s sold the property to Kemp Town Brewery in Brighton.
Looking for a new roof over our heads we saw the old aerodrome at Wilmington was up for sale for £2,000. A generous piece of ground went with the building, partly covered by an apple orchard. As an extra to the new business, my mother decided that we needed to buy a country property with grounds around where she could set up boarding kennels for dogs or cats.
The squarish, white aerodrome building appeared to be a perfect answer. When we visited, the gate nearest the road had a heavy chain holding it shut. As we tried to untangle the twisted metal we saw three men running from the building and drive speedily away through another gate further down.
At that time we thought they were just prospective purchasers. However as we got to the open front door, we discovered they were thieves, as laid out ready to move were lengths of copper pipe and a water tank.
The inside of the building was in a sorry state; years of neglect had resulted in rotting floorboards, crumbling walls and further devastation from squatters and thieves. Demolition and rebuilding was the best option. We loved the place but sadly in that state we couldn’t buy it. All we carried away from that building were a couple of ripe apples from the orchard.
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