My name is Alan Smith – lived in Midhurst for about 71 years, for my sins.
Just sitting here looking at some photographs of old Midhurst. One I’m looking at at the moment is The Close Walks.
The old avenue down through the Close Walks from Selham Road down to the Gas Works basically – before it was turned into a building site. Shows a beautiful selection of tall yew trees, one of which I believe is the tallest yew tree in the country which is noted in the Guinness Book of Records.
Another one I have here in front of me is the Lake, just behind which used to be the Peter Pan statue many years ago – until it was destroyed by vandals, we had them even in those days
At the bottom of the Long Walk I was mentioning just now, we come to the Gas Works and the old turning centre of the canal. It shows, in actual fact, the canal as it was in those days with the Bargee’s Cottage up in the background, and a little boy sitting on the wall – fishing I suppose – it’s not me incidentally.
Going back to the picture of the Long Walk in Close Walks – I can well remember as a child of about eight or nine, pushing a handcart all the way from West Lavington down to the Gas Works where my father worked, to collect the bag of coke once a week and all the way back up, about a mile altogether – catch the youngsters doing it these days !
Other photographs I’ve got –
One of the High Street with the old council house standing well in the middle of it with its clock out in front. Main difference being that there’s no traffic, apart from one hand cart apparently.
Pictures also of Red Lion Street looking down towards the Spread Eagle, but [with] houses coming up to what must almost be the same point as the present War Memorial – I don’t know who the girl is walking up the road towards us but —
Another one I have is of the Library in Knockhundred Row. It shows a lady standing at the door, lady standing outside and, interestingly, a notice on the wall that says Boot and Shoe Repairs. Now I’ve seen many photographs of Midhurst, of this particular scene, but never seen one advertising Boot and Shoe Repairs – just like to know when abouts it was, it must have been around the 1900s or something like that.
These photographs that I’m looking at are all sepia prints on plain paper they were actually found in an old book. Many years ago [it] was given to a school garden fete, and at the end of the fete I was asked to throw away the odd books and – Lo and Behold – all these old photos fell out – being interested I obviously grabbed them and kept them and maintained them.