1939: Cuckfield Cobbler reflects in verse on Victorian village life.....

Updated: Nov 6, 2020


Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 28 February 1939


Cobbler turns poet


Charlie Newnham of Cuckfield glances back




Newnham cobblers in the High Street

For fifty years I've served this town

With boots and shoes and mending;

Now to my patrons one and all

This message I am sending;

I thank you heartily everyone

For all your past assistance,

And trust it will continue,

Regardless of the distance.

The oldest tradesmen this I claim,

Though it may be contradicted,

Still carrying on my business

Even if it is restricted.

What with companies and chain shops

it's a job to keep the pace,

But what can one expect

With so many in the race?

Changes? Yes, I've seen a few

Since eighteen eighty nine

When Johnny Curtis here was policeman

In Cannon Cooper’s time.

Mr Morfee was the schoolmaster,

I knew him fairly well,

And Charlie Brookshaw was the sweep–

What tales that man could tell,

John Duke, he kept grocery store,

Where Fred Hoadley carries on

He used to train wild horses–

Yes, a mighty man was John,

And opposite, where Hobden’s fruit it looks so neat,

That’s where Arthur Alwen used to sell his meat.

Charlie Wynter was the postman

And the watchmaker good old Bates,

The best man on the council for keeping down the rates,

Joseph Langton was the Brewer,

He bought the business from Tom Best,

But those two old Cuckfield worthies

Have long since gone to rest.

The “Talbot” then was an hotel

Where the bench of magistrates, I’m told

Gave Lefroy his first hearing

For the murder of Mr Gold.

The “Talbot” then, some will remember,

Was kept by Mr Riches;

And Bates, the tailor, up the street

He used to make his breeches.

Reuben Harris was the saddler,

And the chemist Mr White,

Next door, the grocer, Bobby Wilson

Used to “Back his horses right”,

Edgar Byass was the doctor,

He was also a noted wag,

We used to call in Edgar whenever we were bad.

Three topers called on him one day,

They all looked very sad,

So Edgar said to each one,

“Well, and where do you feel bad?”

Each one complained about his back,

So he prescribed for each of them

One quart of British beer

“Then if you find you still have pain,

And one quart ain’t enough,

You must quickly have another one

For it is the very stuff”.

Charlie Sergison was the Squire,

And master of Cuckfield Park,

He was one of the best

Who thought of the rest

In sport of every kind

His park was open to one and all

For Charlie didn’t mind

We used to boast of our Cuckfield Band

But that’s long since come to grief,

The last members of it, to a man,

Joined up with Haywards Heath,

The Cuckfield Young Men’s Club

Still carries on the same

In the building that was a workhouse

At the end of Ockenden Lane.

Twice the rooster has been moved

From the spire of Cuckfield Church,

Because his feet had got so cold

They had to make him a new perch

We used to have a two-horse bus

Which started from the “Ship”,

Three times to the railway station

It made its daily trip.

But if you were in a hurry

And hadn’t time to talk;

You could leave the ‘bus behind

If you preferred to walk.

Old friends are slipping one by one

But new ones, still they come,

While you’re thinking of your father

You find you’re talking to his son,

Now I must not linger

Or write a few more lines

Or I shall not catch this post

For the old “Mid Sussex Times”.

I moved three times in fifty years,

You’ll find it on the card,

Each time further from the workhouse

But nearer the churchyard.


C.Newnham