The late Cecil Cramp’s remarkable legacy of photographs portray changing townscape

Black Horse Inn demolition West Street Horsham 1970 - HDC
Black Horse Inn demolition West Street Horsham 1970 - HDC

The photograph above comes from the Cramp archive collected by Cecil and donated by his family to Horsham District Council’s Horsham Museum.

Cecil was the grandson of the founder of Cramps - a well known landmark in West Street for over 100 years; the shop’s famous spectacles now hang on display in the museum.

In 1975 the West Sussex County Times ran a long article on ‘A man who keeps the past alive’. In it the reporter quoted Cecil’s views on the past and Horsham:

The article read:

He started making his own photographic record of Horsham back in the early 1930s when he was a pupil at Collyer’s school.

“I was an amateur photographer in both still and cine, so I thought I would take photographs of places that were then, and might not be there in the future,’’ he explained.

He went on to say that after the war he saw a magic lantern slide show which rekindled his interest, he dug out his photos and created an hour long slideshow.

He never looked back. He is mildly surprised that his audiences appear to be more interested in buildings than people.

“Show them a picture of a group of people whose names are well known and they will ask what is the building in the background.

“A building seems to have more old associations.’

Cecil Cramp is not a person who lives entirely in the past and who cries ‘Whatever have they done to poor old Horsham?’

“I do not think Horsham’s character has been lost,’’ he said.

“I am sorry that the town has to change, but the fact remains that it does have to.

“So we have to do the best we can. And I think the design of the new shopping centre (Swan Walk) with its brickwork and tiles and different roof levels will not destroy the town’s character.’’

Cecil Cramp smiled when he said: “When the old Westminster Bank was built in 1897 in the centre of the Carfax, people said the building was too tall and not like old Horsham.”

The photograph taken by Cecil shows the demolition of the Black Horse Inn in 1970, one of only two that Horsham Museum has that shows the destruction of the prominent West Street building.

West Street is currently the subject of a major revamp.

The West Street Enhancement Project is taking place after Horsham District Council secured funding from West Sussex County Council’s ‘Kick-Start’ Programme towards the end of 2012. HDC has been awarded £565,000 and the council is also contributing £100,000 to be used to uplift the street’s public realm, with improvements being made to hard and soft landscaping.