The Falmer village blacksmith

I wonder if anyone remembers my grandfather, Albert Slarks, who was the Falmer village blacksmith for many years. I have fond memories of Forge House – now demolished – where I spent hours watching him shoe horses in the rather dirty but quaint forge. He was a rather quiet but very direct man who served the village in many ways, he was also active at St Lawrence Church.

The village has been spoilt by the road running through it, dividing a very pretty but honest village.

Comments about this page

  • St Lawrence Church is so beautiful! Is it a catholic church? Does anyone know if they allow weddings there?

    By Nicole (31/03/2005)
  • Falmer is such a lovely village. It is just a shame that the motorway car sounds spoil it. I’ve been every where in Falmer, I just moved here 2 years ago.

    By kane (21/04/2006)
  • Albert Slarks was my husband for many years.  I remember the hand-forged cat he made me.

    By Jane Slarks (03/11/2006)
  • On the 29th March, 1952, it had snowed and the pathway to the church door was covered with a layer of snow about a couple of inches deep. Just prior to the wedding of Ron Spicer and Joy Romaine, the path was roughly cleared to allow access without too much mess. By the time the service was over and the Spicer couple emerged, another faint layer of snow had fallen and the pathway was in a sludgy mess. The new husband carried his new wife along the path to the roadway and a large picture of the occasion adorned the photographer’s railings across the way from St. Peters Church in Brighton for several weeks afterwards. After the ceremony, the reception was held in the old school with a log fire burning that smoked out the whole place! Nobody was unhappy – smiles all round.

    By Ron Spicer (05/10/2008)
  • Does anyone have any information about what Falmer Village was like in the 1900s? Any help would be appreciated.  Thank you.

    By Amber (29/06/2009)
  • In the 1930s Falmer Village was a quiet, peaceful scene with much less and smaller trees surrounding the pond. The rough road leading between the church wall and the farmyard from the pond road led to a family of gypsies, or so it seemed to our young minds, although we never entered that area, being mindful of the dogs that readily growled and barked if one even approached the entrance. Over the wall on the right side of that entrance was always a family of pigs, with the piglets for ever suckling and the sow lying on its side, ever ready to be tickled with a short stick on the tummy. The wall was just too high for reaching down. I remember always rapidly becoming thirsty, and in the early thirties, the pump had ceased to provide drinking water. It would spout the occasional small flow but was deemed undrinkable. We would call on the lady who lived in the cottage just across the way from the pump location because she had a tap fitted to an outside wall but with no key fitted, which she safely kept in the cottage. Always seeming reluctant to let us drink, uttering words of complaint about being too regularly called upon, yet most times allowing the necessary relief from thirst, her attitude caused a strong feeling of respect bordering on fear whenever we asked for a drink. Certainly, any of us who allowed lips to touch tap would be quickly admonished with the threat of never again being allowed. The Swan pub was closely part of the scene in those days. The licensee and his wife, both imposing, large built and loud of voice characters (who’s son is the licensee nowadays with equal strength of character and stature) would demand due regard for their premises, maintaining it as a Free House over the years, which it still is today. The son, John, would put in a rare presence behind the bar, only to make contact with mum or dad before immediately retiring from the scene. I always got the impression that they were just as strict with him as with anyone else. It certainly doesn’t seem to have caused any harm with his lively character; and I know he wouldn’t mind my words. The Post Office was situated in one of the short roads leading from the pond road towards the ‘pub. The school was positioned facing the pond and in another entry elsewhere in the forum I have described how, in later years Joy, my wife, and I were married at the church, then had the reception in the school with drinks supplied by The Swan ‘pub on a no consumption return basis. Such was village life! (I was born at North Moulsecoomb, down the road.) The vicar, The Reverend Ashdowne, was the local vicar for years before WWII and for most of the time during that war. When Joy and I were married, he told us blankly during the ceremony that we would not be marrying for lust, but for the good honest reasoning of love and preparedness to mutually care. He became so infuriated with the village inhabitants at their seeming lack of interest in the local scene with church matters that he mentioned in one of his sermons that it would metaphorically do the village some good to have a bomb dropped on it to wake it up. His words turned out to be the bomb. The national press, with its usual fervour descended on the village and using its own metaphors, set the place alight. Now surely, there must still be some who remember such an event. The pond was never the best place for catching newts and efts because it had been visited so often by children from afar with their jam jars and nets, that only a few could ever be noted. The better place was a dew pond at the end of the valley approached from the railway arch at North Moulsecoomb. Most of that pond’s contents were left in peace for the kids of the time to see in their natural habitat. Further up the main road leading past the pond towards the East Brighton area there were the raspberry and blackberry bushes, raspberries first appearing followed later quite quickly by those blackberries which can nowadays be found almost anywhere. The raspberries, however, have diminished almost to obscurity. Up that road led to a fairly large flat grass area where a red monoplane would regularly land and the pilot would obligingly let us know whatever we wished to find out about it – but I can’t remember a thing! I’ve touched upon such matters elsewhere in the forum.

    By Ron Spicer (24/11/2009)
  • I remember Falmer when we used to fish for newts in the pond using worms tied to a piece of string. We used to catch huge crested newts, I think we called them tritons. It must have been between 1948-1953.

    By gordon white (14/05/2010)
  • I was born and brought up in Falmer (born 1961) as were my older brothers and my parents and grandparents before. I remember a Mr Slarks owning a Petrol Station on the main road (before the dual carriageway). The Saunter family farmed land up on the ridge. I can remember ice skating on the pond when it froze over and I went to school at the Primary school.

    By Glenda Guy nee Saunter (24/07/2011)
  • My relatives grew up and lived in this village at Middle Street. George and Catherine Baldy  had two sons and five daughters. Catherine spent her final days in the Almshouses with her son Harry. There were also a group of seven brothers who were blacksmiths and farriers during this period, possibly named Wilson. I would love to trace the brothers’ history. Their niece Grace Mary Hills was my Mother in Law but died aged 39 in 1944 -12 years before I met my husband. I have family pictures and postcards of early 1900 but only of the Baldy family tree thanks to a gent in Bexhill and John Burt your Church Warden. Any help would be appreciated. I have never visited Falmer Village but intend to do so in 2012.

    By Prue Turner (02/12/2011)
  • I also have very fond memories of Falmer.  In the early 50s with friends we used to ride our bikes from Moulsecoomb where we lived to Falmer pond to catch newts.  Is the pond still there? Or has it since been gobbled up new roads? It certainly was a picture postcard of scenery back then.

    By Sylvia Stickel (31/08/2015)
  • My Mother, Phyllis Teague, lived in Falmer for many years, married to Bert Teague, and living in Old Station Cottage on the main road.  I remember well the village before it was split in two, and remember Les Slarks who was presumably son of Albert, and who ran a petrol station on the same site as the forge.  As James Browning rightly says, the division in the village by the extended A27 had a big effect in the village.

    By Jennie McWalter (26/07/2016)

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