Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's Always Sunny on Beachy Head Road

Lately, as steamy Ocala dries out from our daily subtropical cloudbursts, I've been sifting through some older information, trying to get all my ducks in a row (Is that a British idiom as well?) and have found some items about Warren Hill School in Meads, Eastbourne, that may be of interest.

It's been over a year now since I received information researched by Michael Ockenden of the Eastbourne Local History Society, the man who located Warren Hill School for us and has provided a wealth of information over time.

However, when the location of Warren Hill was still unknown, that had been my obsession, I'm afraid to say. In my zeal to locate the site of the campus, Michael O. had provided some nuggets of information that flew past me unnoticed, well beyond what was then my narrow field of vision.

Here's the first:

One of our senior members has just e-mailed to say:-

I remember Warren Hill School as a regular opponent on our fixture lists during the 1930s. Their football field was at the top end of Carlisle Road. But I seem to recall that it was dropped from our fixtures well before 1939, so maybe it had closed by then.

I paid homage to this bit of information, along with many others, at the time (24 March 2010), but this particular recollection really failed to sink into my notoriously thick skull. (Is that a British idiom as well?) It corroborates something we eventually "discovered" later on: Warren Hill School held land at the top end of Carlisle Road.

A few days later, Michael verified it:

[In August 1931] the Times reports the registration of land (the school and its grounds) at Warren Hill, Beachy Head Road, and land (the playing field) in Carlisle Road, Eastbourne.

Sometimes one can't see the forest for the trees (Is that a British idiom as well?) in that we'd actually had that information for quite a while, and was eventually corroborated here [right]. Looking for the actual location of the building, though, seemed to be my only passion a year ago or more, and I promise that the next university degree I earn will be in History so I can manage all of this properly!

Another bit of information from last year, however, was something that has stayed on my mind constantly since then. Michael had also written during that time:

The school (which no longer stands ... apart from the former hall or gym) was situated on the left-hand side of Beachy Head Road, between Coltstocks Road and Darley Road.

Later, he added:

The low structure to the left is probably the house which still stands on the site (50 45 22 95 N and 0 15 52 90 E) - the last vestige of Warren Hill School.

The low structure to which Michael refers might have been, I had always thought as we went along, the addition we have seen numerous times at the southwest corner of Warren Hill in the black-and-white image, circa 1930 [left].

I've wondered frequently about that "last vestige" of Warren Hill, the "former hall or gym."

For some reason, though, I recently decided to drive 'virtually' down Beachy Head Road once more and do some snooping via Street View at Google Maps.

Here's an image captured along Beachy Head at a gate in the wall that presumably divides the property that was once the campus of Warren Hill School from the property upon which now sits Stanton Prior (on the corner of Beach Head and Darley Roads. That is the closest I can prowl, from Ocala, Florida, to what would have been the southwest corner of the main building of Warren Hill.

Clicking once to enlarge, I find this:

There is clearly something visible from the street [click the image to enlarge it]. You'll notice that, in the bottom right hand corner of that image, the small golden avatar that represents where I am looking is locked on a building that is in a similar spot to that low-lying addition.

Let's check the 1930 map, but at the same time see where I was looking today. I've also marked three places where structures on both seem to coincide [click to enlarge slightly]:

Only one seems to have the look of something that could have been a "former hall or gym": Number 3.

However, there are some similarities between what is visible today and what would have been there in 1930, albeit very difficult to see.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of our snooping peek through the hedge via Street View set next to an image of former headmaster F. R. Ebden standing to the west of the main building and facing the southeast in relation to the structure behind him. The street view image was captured from the opposite direction, looking in from the northwest [click to enlarge].

It seems that there are definite areas of similarity, pointed out in the comparison above, and the fact that those north-side characteristics reveal a mirror-image of the southern view would be something a symmetry-minded person might have been expecting. While this low-lying structure doesn't necessarily have the appearance of a "former hall or gym," its physical characteristics seem oddly similar to the structure that may have been there, circa 1930.

This structure would be immediately behind the hedge today, and would correspond to the narrow, east-west building we see in the map far above at location Number 1.

Sometimes I feel a bit like a veritable prowler, but is broad daylight—always broad daylight—in Street View. Perhaps then, I'm more of a stalker, but my stalking target is merely history. I suppose I can't feel too guilty about skulking about outside the gate on Beachy Head Road and peeking through. After all, I'm 4,000 miles away!

In the end, it's really all I can do, sitting here on the sun porch, watching dark the clouds roiling together above in advance of our expected afternoon thunderstorm.

So is the narrow building at Number 1 the last vestige of Warren Hill School, or is it the beefier structure found at location Number 3?

Perhaps neither. Perhaps both!

I can't tell from here, but as the thunder drives our cat out of this room and under the bed, it's nice to know that, courtesy of Google, it's always sunny on Beachy Head Road!

1 comment:

  1. Keith's Mum thinks that the Bird's Eye view on Bing Maps would give you a better view of Warren Hill Cottage and Stelvio Cottages.