AFFIDAVIT of RON SAUNDERS - June 1997

 

 

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_____________________

AFFIDAVIT OF

RONALD SAUNDERS

_____________________

 

I Ronald Saunders, of 'Windy Mead', Potmans Lane, Lunsford Cross, near Sidley, Bexhill in the County of East Sussex, TN39 5JL, do solemnly and sincerely declare as follows :-

 

1.     I make this affidavit in respect of land and buildings in Lime Park, Herstmonceux and the Herstmonceux area, to the best of my knowledge and recollection.

 

2.     I was born at Rocks Cottage, Herstmonceux, East Sussex in 1921.  I went to school in Herstmonceux village.  The headmaster was Mr Bridgen. My favourite master was Mr Smith, who taught market garden and sports. 

 

3.     I have lived in Sussex all of my life.  I lived in and around Herstmonceux until 1939 when I moved to Lunsford Cross.  I have worked as a Nurseryman and Market Gardener all my life.  I have a good local knowledge of the area.

4.     My father, Albert Saunders, worked for Baron De Roemer at the turn of the century.  He was the Chief Engineer at Lime Park. He also owned the properties in Lime Park and the park itself.  My father's duties mainly involved the running of a steam-powered generator and energy storage facility in Lime Park.

 

5.     The steam powered installation comprised of three large rooms or sheds.  Two of these sheds remain and can be seen today. As can the concrete generator mountings which were located in the room to the rear of the building, now removed. The building was clad internally and externally with pine matchboarding.  Large timber trusses supported the roof.  The rooms were divided by walls which, were lined with tongue and grooved boarding.  The sceilings were also boarded and on the upper level there were opening window vents in each loft area.  I do not remember the garage section with the inspection pit, although it is has been there for some time.

 

6.     Accumulators, were stacked in the room section nearest to the stable yard.  These accumulators were arranged for daily inspection and maintenance.  Maintenance included checking terminals and watering the cells to make up for losses during charging. Other maintenance included oiling and greasing the steam engine bearings.  It was a full time occupation.

 

7.     My father would start the steam machinery at 7:00 (am) o'clock every morning and stop the machinery every afternoon at 5:00 (pm) o'clock.  Coal was burnt in the boiler fires to make the steam.  During this time the engines would turn generating machinery in order to charge the accumulator banks.  The electricity so stored would be used during the remaining hours, so as to provide a continuous supply of electricity for the park.  Excess energy was sold to selected village users during the day. I believe this included the butchers and it might have also included the early cinema, near the fire station later on.

 

8.     Water was raised from wells on site to supply the steam machinery.  This well was permanently plumbed in to the equipment so as to raise water.  Water was also supplied to the market garden at the side of the main house and to the stables next door.  The valves remain on site.

9.     Another steam engine installation was run at Herstmonceux Castle.  It was very similar to that in Lime Park. Eventually, around 1920, mains electricity became available at Herstmonceux. There was no longer any need to generate electricity on site.  The new mains electricity was quieter and more convenient. At that time, the steam engine and generating machinery from the building in Lime Park was moved to the Castle.  My father helped with the move and then continued to work at the Castle, instead of Lime Park, for Colonel Lowther.

10. Steam powered generating was common in those days.  I remember that at Bodle Street Mr Barnes had three traction engines.  He would travel to local farms and do the thrashing for them.

11. I left school at the age of thirteen.  At this time I continued to live at Rocks Cottage in Victoria Road, not far from the Monkey Puzzle. My first job was at the Horseshoe Inn.  

12.  I helped out generally at the Horseshoe Inn.  My main task was tending the chickens.  This included feeding, watering and collecting eggs.  We also made our own butter and cider.  The remaining time was made up in the gardens.

13.  I started work for Mrs De Roemer around 1936.  I was fifteen.  Mrs De Roemer lost her husband during the first world war.  She was single.  I worked under Mr Stapley, the head gardener, together with Mr Ransom.  Mr Ransom was deaf and dumb.  We communicated with Mr Ransom using sign language.  I remember that Billy Medhurst could understand the sign language best.  Billy was the under gardener.

14.  My wage was 10/6d per week.  I only worked at the park for a year.  If I had stayed longer my wages would have gone up to 12/6d.  It was the practice in Lime Park to bring in new persons at the lower amount, rather than pay the extra 2/-.  I took Roger Watson's position and when I left Nobby Clark followed me. 

15.  I remember the old generating rooms.  When I worked in the park the building was covered in corrugated tin.  This tin had been added, so I understand, to reduce the risk of accidental fire.  The main left hand shed (as you went in from the park drive) was empty of machinery.  Only the concrete mount remained, with the steel bolts that held the engine in place. The floor valves were still there and all the old plumbing and pipe-work. The main right hand shed still had the accumulators arranged in stacks all the way to beam height (8ft) around the sides of the room.

16. There was a stable next door with a garage.  This has now been added to with a house extension.  It is now known as The Old Rectory. The stables were always empty of horses.  Instead, Mrs De Roemer garaged her Armstrong Sideley motor car there in two converted stable units.  The yard was brick laid in a large square shape.  The door under the wooden tower section was where we sat to pluck poultry. We used part of the stable block on the left as you go in, to prepare seed boxes.

17. Mrs De Roemer had a chauffeur, Mr Green, who lived at the end of the lane near Gardener Road, in the lodge.  I remember that Eddie Simmons would repair cars at Windmill Hill.  They also served petrol.  His father was the blacksmith from the same site as the garage building.  My uncle, Mr Delves was the local blacksmith for Herstmonceux village.  He married my father's sister.

 

18. We would chop and saw wood for the main house.  The wood was stored in various parts of the stables and in another shed in front of the generating sheds.  This building was also used to store dried bundled branches or faggots, for lighting the fires of the main house.

19. Behind the generating shed buildings was a pig house. To get to the piggery, you went through (what later became the faggot store) into the back  yard, and past the coal bunker set in the hillside.  The piggery was divided into two sections.  The front section had a gate about four feet high.  The back section was covered over for protection as the sleeping quarters.  One part was for the sow and as she had her young, they were transferred into the other section.  There is now a second world war bomb shelter set into the hillside past the coal-bunker where the piggery was.

20.  Mr Stapley lived in the Lodge at the entrance to the park from Chappel Row (Church Road).  Two of us would sweep the drive all the way to the main house from East Lodge with birch brooms.  We would also sweep the drive coming into the park from the other end at Gardener Street.  The leaves would be piled on a leaf mould pile opposite the Lodge.  We would then mix this mulch with soil for seeding.

21. We grew vegetables in the market gardens past the main house.  Billy Medhurst would regularly carry two boxes of sweet peas across the field to the top gate and past the sports field, to a bus in the village which, went to Hastings market.

22. I remember that Mr Harmer ran the windmill at Windmill Hill.  He had a bakery.  Mr Weaver was the head baker.  We bought bread from him on Saturdays.  As a lad I would sweep his bakery rooms after the days baking.  As a reward he would bake me a special small loaf with a round top.  At the end of the drive to the windmill, near the cottage building, was an entranceway let into the bank.  This went down steps that led into a tunnel passage.  This passage was said to go all the way to dungeons in Herstmonceux Castle.  I only went a short distance into this passage before it became too dark to go any further.  Because of this I cannot confirm where it comes out.

23. Eggar Curtis owned a Butchers in the village.  He also owned a Brewery about half way up West End past the Woolpack public house.  Mr Curtis later built a dance hall next to the fire station.  And later still he added the Cinema.  I went to this cinema most Saturday nights.  It cost 4d, and I used to smoke Woodbines on those occasions which cost another 2d.  I later gave up smoking.

24. When I left the Von Roemers, I went to work at Cowdown Farm for Mr Lindsey.

25. My parents are buried in the Church next to Herstmonceux Castle and my daughter Shirley lives locally at Watermill Lane.  She was born in 1948.

26. I can confirm that Italian prisoners of war were kept in a camp put up on the football green close to Lime Park.  This camp has now gone, but football is still played on the green.

27.  I make this affidavit conscientiously believing the same to be true and  I attach copy of an Ordnance Survey based site plan to confirm the general layout of Lime Park as I remember it, as an exhibit.

 

Sworn by the said Ronald Saunders .........

 

 

before me ....

               Solicitor/Commissioner of Oaths

 

 

 

 

at ..  in the County of East Sussex this .. day of  July 1997.

 

 


 

 

Herstmonceux Electricity Generating Works Circa. 1900 - 1936   Links:

 

 

Introduction  |  Instructions  |  ISBN  |  Batteries  |  Boiler Room   |  Floor Plan  |  Ron Saunders

 

Industrial Revolution  |   Lime Park  |  Machinery  |  Map  |  Power House  |  Argus 1999

 

Public Supply  |  Roof Construction  |  Rural SupplySussex Express 1913  |  Conclusion

 

Archaeology South East   |   East Sussex CC  |  English HeritageSIAS  |  Sx Exp 1999

 

 


 

Herstmonceux Links Page

 

Wentworth House

 

 

 

 

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