Sandgate@Fiveways, A portrait of the street

Some time after I moved to Sandgate Road I met a neighbour, a man in his early nineties at the time, who told me he had lived in the road almost his entire life, and had been born in the house next door to where he now lived.


This represented almost the lifetime of the street itself and the idea came to me to produce a portrait of the street through the lives of people living there today. I taught for many years on a life history course at Sussex University so it felt like a means of carrying this on into the world of every day.
So Fred was the first person I talked to. He was born in 1913 and he regaled me with stories of what the street was like when he was a child: no bathrooms, outside toilets freezing cold in winter, children's games in the road, the rag-and-bone man, all sorts of things which have completely disappeared. After talking to Fred I set out on a search for other residents of varying ages and backgrounds who would be willing to tell me something of their lives and went on to interview a further eleven people about their childhood, family, jobs, anything at all really. Here's what one person said about moving to Sandgate Road: "I think one of the first things we noticed was the sense of community, there's a sense of bumping into people on a very regular basis."
I was joined on the project by Julius Smit without whom it would certainly not have proceeded in the way it has. He has recorded all the interviews, taken photographs, produced the CDs and handled the design and printing of the booklet which contains selected portions of each of the interviews, accompanied by a CD.
It has been such a wonderful experience getting to know people and to be allowed a brief glimpse into their lives that we decided to go for "Volume 2", a second booklet with another eight stories. We have done most of the interviews and this second booklet will be ready towards the end of the year, 2011.  Because this is exactly a hundred years since the 1911 census, we plan to include a brief note of who was living in the houses of our interviewees at that time.
For anyone interested, we have copies available of the first booklet for which we are charging £3.50 to help recover some of the cost of printing and production. To obtain a copy you can contact me on 01273 557750 or

Posted: 26th of January 2011