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1937: Development in the 1870s - housing, local government and a sewage system - ARP talk Part 5

 Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 26 October 1937

Mr A. R. Pannett, affectionately known to locals as 'ARP' gave many delightful insights into earliest Haywards Heath days; in 1937 at the age of 80 he offered a final absorbing talk to a packed and appreciative audience. We serialise this fascinating record because of the density and detail it provides..... here is Part 5

"Development <from the 1850s onwards> is now proceeding so rapidly that we shall have to take a more general view, and coming to the 70s we find it so advanced that some form of local government has become necessary and



were becoming serious problems.  Application was made to the local government board for a lead, with the result of a local board was formed to act as a governing body for the district. This consisted of eight members, and a sound solid lot of men they were.  They courageously attacked the difficulties that they had to face, and soon the first attempt at main drainage was put in hand. This was in two portions, one for the upper part of the Heath, with an outfall in New England, and the other for the lower part, with an outfall near Scrase Bridge. Ashenground and Haywards Road were made-up;  and the old footpath to Lindfield New England road was made, and all roads were officially named.  A set of building bylaws was adopted and a system of street lighting was started; But later on, owing to a dispute with the Gas Company, this was discontinued, and for a time lighting by means of oil lamps was carried on - but not for long.  In the late 80s the first attempt at street paving was made by the local board by providing an asphalt path from the station up the Boltro Road over the tunnel and down Perrymount Road to the station again.  This was so much appreciated that it was shortly followed by a general paving scheme, which was carried out in concrete. The importance of the Heath was further enhanced by the transference of the market from Cuckfield, and soon after, by that of the County and Petty Sessional courts. Cuckfield was inclined to resent these changes, but it is doubtful if it would today wish to exchange its ancient repose for the modern feverish activity of its neighbour.  The question of a water supply, though growing more pressing, remained untackled, until the problem was solved in the late ‘eighties’ by the promotion of a private company by Mr. Roberts who


dug a well at Balcombe, laid the mains, and began business. This proved to be unremunerative, and about ’98 the undertaking was purchased by the Cuckfield Rural District Council. But Haywards Heath and Cuckfield, who were the principle consumers, felt strongly that as such they should have a hand in the management of the concern, and the three bodies were in 1908 amalgamated to form the present Mid Sussex Joint Water Board.  All this tended to stimulate development, and in the last decade of the century Southlands Farm was sold, Queens Road made and more building land provided, while at the other end of the Heath Western Road and Petlands Road were made with a further provision of building facilities. 

Southlands old farm on Sydney Road (colourised). With thanks to John Twisleton

At this time a new local government act changed the old local board to an urban District Council, which now had 12 members and wider functions. But the district was running well, and


confronting the new Council was that of sewage disposal, the existing provisions for which, owing to the rapid growth of the place, had become entirely inadequate. Various expedients were resorted to, but by the end of the century it was decided to purchase land about four miles away and convey the whole of the sewage there to be dealt with. It was a bold scheme, and was hotly opposed, but it was carried out, and to this the health and success of the district for nearly forty years has been largely due. Little more remains to be said. We have seen Haywards Heath transformed from an almost uninhabited and trackless waste to a large well ordered town, with a competent council, with good streets and pavements, well drained and lighted, and an excellent water supply.  Here I propose to leave it, as from this time on there are others who not only know more about local development than I do, but are far better qualified to describe it."

to follow...... the final observations and thanks



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