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1935: Haywards Heath 50 years ago and now!

Updated: Dec 9, 2023

Interesting addresses at the Chambers of Commerce Meeting

Mid Sussex Times Tuesday March 5 1935

A number of facts of local interest were brought to light at a meeting of the Haywards Heath, Cuckfield and Lindfield Chamber of Commerce, held at the Corn Exchange, Haywards Heath, on February 25th. Mr H.S.Hotblack (President) was in the chair, supported by Mr F. Butcher (Vice-President) and Mr H.V. Vaughan (Hon. Secretary).

A talk was given by Mr Vaughan, whose address was entitled ‘Old news of Mid Sussex’. It was based on extracts from the first year’s files of the Mid Sussex times, which came into being in January 1881. One of the weighty matters discussed in those days was whether the Haywards Heath local board should have a horse and cart to remove ashes and road refuse. It was decided that road scrapings were to be the Board's property. Local advertisements showed beer to be 6d per gallon, sherry 2s a bottle, and brandy 3s a bottle!

The local rates were 3s in the pound

a half year’s rate producing under £1000 pounds. It was recorded that the Haywards Heath Rough Band had a march out, when they serenaded ‘a certain cottage in Union Road noted for its economy in the matter of housing room, the number of its occupants and the altogether unique relations of the inmates’. A correspondent wrote to the paper asking why Hayward Heath, Lindfield and Cuckfield did not have one gas company only, at Haywards Heath, instead of three.

The local board decided that it was not necessary to make up the footpath in Paddockhall Road, as only three houses were occupied. In those days, Burgess Hill was larger than Haywards Heath, Mr Vaughan stated, and more estate agents were found in that area. Commenting on the fact that a farm sale of live and dead stock was advertised to be held at the Kings Head, Cuckfield, the stock having been removed from Hatchgate farm, he said he wondered where sufficient room was found at the Kings Head to hold a farm sale.

An advertisement stated that eight bullocks had strayed, and asked for information as to their whereabouts. It did not seem possible now that books could stray and get lost so completely as to make an advertisement necessary.

The asylum in Haywards Heath c1900 (please see footnote below article)

The Mental Hospital

was known as the County Lunatic Asylum then, and there were 85 deaths reported in a year. Of the various admissions to the institution, the following causes were given:- religion, 15; family and business reasons, 19; love, 5; fright, 3; grief, five. The total admissions during the year were 229. One inmate was reported to have escaped from the asylum, bitten out the seat of a constable's trousers, and kicked and punched him terribly. A tramp 80 years of age who was sentenced to 14 days hard labour for stealing clothes was stated to be a Waterloo veteran, while at a local concert one of the bandsmen was a trumpeter who blew the charge at the battle of Balaclava.

There were 15 cases in one quarter of tramps sleeping at Cuckfield Workhouse and tearing up their clothes. This was very common practise in those days, nearly every week tramps were sentence to 14 days’ imprisonment for tearing up clothes. In the local press they were known as the ‘Tearems’. A funeral was held in Cuckfield of a person who died from an infectious disease, the burial taking place between 11:00 PM and midnight, which seems to be the usual time for such funerals.

The speakers were thanked by the president who observed that it was extraordinary how the district had grown.

This print showcases the historic Brighton County Borough Asylum, located in Haywards Heath, Sussex. Originally established as the Sussex County Lunatic Asylum in 1857, it underwent several name changes over the years. From 1903 to 1914, it was known as the Brighton County Borough Asylum before being renamed the Brighton County Borough Mental Hospital from 1919 to 1948. Eventually, it became St Francis Hospital and later received a new title - Princess Royal Hospital. The image captures the grand entrance of this architectural marvel that served as a sanctuary for those suffering from mental health conditions during its long history.

The tower stands tall and proud against a backdrop of Victorian and Edwardian buildings, reflecting an era when mental health care was still evolving. As we gaze upon this photograph, we are reminded of the significant role this institution played in providing medical assistance and support to individual's facing psychiatric challenges throughout different periods of time.

It is also worth noting that this site has witnessed societal changes such as housing developments and poverty alleviation efforts. With its rich historical background and stunning architecture, this image invites us to appreciate not only the physical structure but also reflect on how far our understanding of mental health has come since its establishment in the mid-19th century.


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