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A favourite day out

When I was a child, a favourite day out from Moulsecoomb was a visit to the pond in Falmer village. A long trudge up the main road brought us to our destination. A very large pond with an island in the middle, Swallows and Amazons weren’t the only ones with islands unfortunately we had no boat.

Boys then wore short trousers and girls could and did tuck their skirts into their knickers. Into the pond we went, jam jar in hand trying to catch the slippery newts. Endless time was spent paddling, stirring up the mud and disturbing the small creatures that lived in its fascinating shallows.

Falmer church and pond: date unknown

Sixpence a sack
Potato picking, to some a remunerative outing, started very early in the morning. Once there, the aim was to fill hessian sacks with potatoes. Adults earned sixpence a sack and children threepence. I only recall gaining this princely sum once. I probably spent too much time lying on my back in the grass on the edge of the field, building castles in the white fluffy clouds. I can still remember being tired and hungry when I returned home late evening.


Enduring memories
In the fields, proper haystacks were built then, and we had great fun playing on them. You mustn’t believe those stories of sleeping in a hay stack. Other than a gorse bush, a more prickly bed would be hard to find. Recently I returned to my ‘roots’ to show my granddaughter this joyous place. All gone, all built on. The tree hollow where the swing had been was fenced in. All in the interests safety I suppose. A notice at Falmer pond forbade bathing. They can’t obliterate my memories though.

Comments about this page

  • Oh what memories were suddenly awakened. Falmer pond was a favourite place to go on a Saturday. A few coppers for a return ticket from Brighton Station and armed with a jam jar on a string, a small net on the end of a bamboo pole and one was away “newting”. Oh happy glorious days before the war, never to return.

    By John Wall VK2 (15/07/2009)
  • Yes John, all those years and we still remember the pleasure. Do children no longer have such enjoyment while learning about wildlife? I remember my Mum screaming at the little black frogs jumping all over the living room. They had developed from some of Falmer’s tadpoles. The cat enjoyed the game they provided.

    By Joan Cumbers (nee Oram) (16/07/2009)
  • Most of my family are interred at this church. Though my mum and dad where cremated, my paternal nan and granddad are buried here and also my Uncle Jack (John) Pelham Edwards, my dad’s brother. My mum’s ashes were sprinkled on my nan’s grave – Lillian Edwards nee Deacon. The story goes that my nan’s side had some sort of connection with the Pelhams – Sir John Pelham but I’ve never been able to find out why or very much about it.

    By Paul Edwards (30/09/2013)
  • It was an early summers day in 1942, we were picnicking on the east bank of the Falmer Pond. I was four years old and wading out into the pond and catching newts with a small hand net and placing them in a water filled jar. All of a sudden there were splashes all around me. I shouted to my father, “Look at the newts jumping !”. I heard him shout to my mother, “Hide under the wall (the nearby churchyard wall)”. He was already sprinting in the water towards me, his face grim. He grabbed me, held me under his arm and sprinted to the wall where he shoved me on to the ground beneath the wall and covered me with his body. The splashing stopped and we resumed our picnic. My Dad’s explanation …. there was a military training area to the southeast. Some joker in a military vehicle decided to take potshots at the church tower and the ricocheted rounds, probably from a 50mm cannon, were the cause of the splashes. We weren’t hurt and my father didn’t make a big deal of the incident but his selfless act of bravery and quick thinking have stayed with me all of my life. My mum and dad were Gertie (nee Elliott) and Bob Seifert, whose families had lived for several generations in Brighton and Hove. We lived in Bath Street until 1947. Dad worked for Tamplin’s Brewery/ Watney’s from the early 1930’s until he retired. He signed up in the army at the age of 16 in 1914 and he was lucky not to ‘go over’ and I was lucky to have a father throughout WWII. I was able to enter Stanford Road Elementary before I was four years old and at the time we only attended school in the mornings. My mother took me home most lunchtimes. One day we had just passed the Seven Dials and were walking up Buckingham Place towards Bath Street where we lived in a basement flat; there was a roaring noise above, I looked up to see brightly camouflaged fighter plane flying at low level toward the railway station. The bomb flaps opened, a man wearing goggles and sitting behind the pilot was looking through a side window and a bomb dropped out. My mother had grabbed my arm, pulled me into the small front garden by the bus stop and pushed me below a low wall. We were only about 100 yards from the block of flats that the bomb hit. I do not remember feeling the blast but when we reached home, some windows were shattered and the outer door was splintered. Supposedly no one was killed. That same plane flew towards the station, dropped a bomb which bounced on the playground of the convent school (lunchtime and full of children playing) went over the road and exploded as it fell below the cliff overlooking the station. Supposedly only one child was killed. Miracles do happen and I had parents that never transmitted any fear to me and I had my uncle Herbie who stayed with us when on home leave from the Royal Marines. Never boastful, always pleasant. I learned later that he survived two sorties into Iceland to dispense with a couple of Nazi submarine support radio stations, was on the battleship HMS Barham when it’s magazine exploded, he was shipwrecked two more times off of Crete, ending up in hospital in Alexandria, was then assigned to a ‘rust bucket’ carrying ammunition to Ceylon, told to disembark in Aden to await further assignment, no instructions after six weeks so, feeling a little guilty, he jumped on a ship to Port Said and reported for duty. He was on standby for three days and then told, “Elliott, you are dead!” and was nick-named “The Ghost”. Then in the late 1940’s he was assigned for more active duty in Malaysia to operate against the Communist insurgency. Somehow he survived in good shape. I have much to be thankful for.

    By DUDLEY ROBERT SEIFERT (03/07/2022)

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