Growing up in Whitehawk in the 1950s
I was born in the back bedroom of 130, Whitehawk Road on 11th October 1952. I was the youngest of 8, (6 boys and 2 girls) born to Fred and Louie Chitty. The boys were Derek, Stan, David, Denis, Terry and me Colin and the girls were June and Janice. Our house was a three bedroomed end of terrace with a huge garden which blended into the race hill below the old people’s homes on, I think it was Manor Farm. My Mum and Dad (sadly dead for many years) were one of the first families to move in during the 1930s and remembered the pig farms and allotments that filled the whole valley. I think Whitehawk Road was the first built and the football pitches were formed from all of the chalk and soil that was moved as the houses were built. My Mum used to tell me about the night she went to bed to the usual sounds of the farm across the way and woke up to find hundreds of lorries and thousands of soldiers waiting to be transported across the Channel to the French landings.
A fabulous childhood
My own memories were of a fabulous childhood in the open air. I remember attending Whitehawk Infants school at age three because my Dad had just died and my Mum had to work. She was a cleaner at Roedean School. They had fantastic play equipment including a red roundabout for two which you used to pedal and it went really fast. I can remember me and a boy called Jimmy Taylor making ourselves sick after our free bottle of milk in the morning. Miss Coo was the Headmistress and she was a twin, like my Dad.
Safe childhood days in the pool
Black Rock Swimming Pool was magic. I used to go on my own at age 6/7 or with my sister and spend the whole day during the summer holidays. Completely safe and very few perverts to worry about. Black Rock before the Marina was great for shrimps and live bait for fishing in the rock pools and at night the groynes were great for big bass in the summer and lovely cod in the winter. I can remember a shoal of mackerel getting caught in the rock pools one summers day and my mate David Tharme and I made a fortune catching them, cleaning them and selling them for 6 for 2/6d. Sorry that was two shillings and six pence, pre decimal.
Learning about life’s ups and downs
My brother Terry and my sister Janice still live in Whitehawk today. I have travelled all over the world as a civilian and in the military. I have had over 60 different postal addresses in my 54 years, but Whitehawk was where I learnt about life, both its ups and downs. It was a hard place for the adults I think, but it was a wonderful place for kids with a bit of enterprise. Coach cleaning in the summer, fishing for profit all year, winkling at Black Rock, beach combing for money and watches, there was always something to do. If the truth be known, I don’t think I have ever found the community spirit we had back then, so it is great to read that it is still present at dear old Whitehawk. Shame the layout had to change to build more houses, but they were happy, happy days.
A very famous film
Does anyone else remember when the battlefield scenes were filmed on the corporation tip on Wilson Avenue for Oh What a Lovely War? Me and Dave made a fortune collecting the empty beer bottles used by the actors and crew and returning them to the Whitehawk Inn. They also sprayed artificial snow all over the tip, it was amazing.