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2003: Cuckfield postman Jack Knight recalls life in town during the 1920s and 30s

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

Jack Knight was a Cuckfield man through and through. A local postman for 23 years, Jack was born in Glebe Rd in March 1922, his wife came from Glebe Rd, and he died in the same street. Here are some of his memories of growing up in Cuckfield. He was a kind and honest man and much missed by those who knew him.

'I remember my school age days were very happy times. Often on a Saturday morning, I would go to Mr Fuller's blacksmiths. This was behind the Rose and Crown, and I would often get the job of pumping the bellows. After a few weeks of this he made me an iron hoop, and a stick to control the hoop, and I was soon running around Cuckfield with it.

Jack Knight c1930

All of us children had our soapboxes made of two sets of pram wheels and a plank of wood. Sometimes we had a box nailed onto the plank. You steered using a rope tied to the front axle. My favourite run on my cart was to start by the Rose and Crown and travel down London Lane, sometimes I had to jump off to let a car or lorry pass.

We children played in the road or in the fields around Glebe Rd. In summer it was the time for farmers to make hay. We children had great fun when we made hay houses, and had large piles of hay to run and jump into. Then word would go around that Kay Stoner was carrying hay at Longacre Farm, and Frank Webber was carrying at Park Barn farm, and we would run from one farm to the other just to have a ride on the empty Sussex waggons. In the autumn, I would be out and about gathering hazelnuts or sweet chestnuts. The chestnuts were roasted on the old kitchen range.

On Saint Valentine's Day, 14th of February 1931, I went tobogganing in the spinning field off South Street. The toboggan ran into a small tree and I sustained a compound fracture of the right leg. I was carried by two men in a bandy chair up to Marshalls in the High Street, to be seen by Doctor Conrad Farr, who lived and had a surgery there. He put the leg in a splint, and my father and uncle carried me to the bus stop, and I was taken to Haywards Heath Cottage hospital on the bus. In the August school holidays I would walk to Haywards Heath Cattle Market, which was situated near the railway station - where Sainsbury's is now. Towards the end of the day, I would hunt out Mr Seldon or Mr Hobbs, the Cuckfield butchers, and help one or the other drive the cows or sheep they had brought home to Cuckfield. Put it in those days slaughtered the animals themselves. Mr Hobbs had a field and slaughterhouse in Gas house lane, while Mr Seldon had one down in Brook Street.

The big event of the year both the children of Cuckfield Christmas party, we would all gather in the school playground led by Father Christmas (Mr. Black). The children walked through the High Street to the Queens Hall and sat down to a tea and all the trimmings. Afterwards there was entertainment, and every child received a present, a few sweets, and an orange.

When I was a young boy there were only 12 houses in Glebe Rd, the local Cuckfield council had a yard where the road now goes to the school, and the doctors surgery. Horse and cart collected household rubbish.

There was a great sense of neighbourly friendliness in Glebe Rd. If a woman was ill a neighbour would always assist with the housework if need be. There would sometimes be a knock on the door and a child would be there asking can mum borrow a cup of sugar until tomorrow, or could you lend mum a couple of spoons of tea.

When a girl was to be married, on her wedding day most of the women in the road would gather at the bride’s gate to wish her luck in her marriage, and to see what her wedding dress was like. When a person died, on the day of the funeral and when the cortege moved off, everybody would close their curtains as a mark of respect.

I finished school at Easter 1936 age 14 and started working as a garden boy at Horsegate house in Ardingly road, which was owned by Mr and Mrs Hawks who were tea planters in Ceylon.'

Image and article courtesy of Cuckfield Society (Newsletter 2003)

John Alexander writes:

I really enjoyed reading about Jack Knight, I think he lived in Longacre Crescent at one time, I seem to remember a postman called Knight living at number 4, he and his wife had a daughter called Paula, I remember them moving to Glebe Rd possibly in the early 60's, I was only a boy then but my Mum always said they were lovely people.

Gillian Howick writes:-

Jack (John) Knight was my uncle He was a wonderful man and lovely kind uncle



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