top of page

1893: The Relief of Cuckfield - from a terrible smell!

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 26 September 1893


History repeats itself, and the famous Relief of Lucknow has been recently repeated at Cuckfield, only in this case the stalwart Highlanders were replaced by what is known to the initiated as ventilating shafts.

Long and anxiously did the Cuckfieldians look for them, and with their arrival gave forth audible sighs of relief. And well may they feel relieved at the welcome closing of the sepulchres popularly and expressively known as manholes, which have belched forth such effluvia during the past summer. With the erection of the shafts we are happy to say the nuisance has abated, and the famous air of the little town has returned to its usual purity.

High Street 1890s

What surprises us is that the authorities should have delayed the erection of the shafts so long; no private individual would have been allowed to take such liberties with the public health. Had any hapless ratepayer presumed to open such a stink-hole under his neighbours window he would have been literally besieged by sanitary authorities, nuisance inspectors, &c. The Board would have taken instant proceedings against him and compelled the provision of other ventilation.

However, all things come to those who wait, and the peace-loving inhabitants of Cuckfield have waited, and that patiently. Reposing implicit faith in their Local Board, they strained their eyes towards the horizon the whole summer long, and that with scarcely a groan or murmur; but the new main drain has been a source of considerable anxiety and irritation to the populace. What with the contract falling through, the continual tearing up of the road to put in the connections (which would have been done the first place anywhere else), and the prolonged existence of the open manholes as the only means of ventilation, the undertaking has not been, so far, a great success.

The scheme is doubtless one the best which modem science and theory invented, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating,”—pardon the simile —and the Cuckfieldians have been eating their “pudding” during the past summer with anything but relish. “Hope,” Diogenes says, “is the last thing that dies in a man; ” and we hope the troubles in Cuckfield and its drainage are over. Of course there is the remote contingency of the sewage getting into the brook and poisoning the fish in Pond Leigh, but such a trifle that would soon be put right by such an energetic Local Board as Cuckfield possesses. However, “all’s well that ends well.” and with the erection of the shafts and the circulation of the air in its wonted under polluted state, visitors will probably return things in general “go strong ” at the old town.



bottom of page