30 years ago

FROM the West Sussex County Times of Friday, April 17, 1981.

HORSHAM was marooned, dozens of homes flooded, a house severely damaged by lightning and roads and railways closed in a seven-hour storm which struck the area in the early hours of Tuesday.

A mother and her two children escaped injury although ceilings and part of the roof collapsed when lightning struck their home in Heath Way.

The expanding village of Southwater became a lake and as the waters rose so did the villagers’ concern about the adequacy of the drainage system.

During the seven hour deluge, 2.7 inches of rain fell in Horsham. According to amateur weatherman Derek Hobbs, who supplies reports to the Met Office, this was half as much again than the average rainfall for the entire month.

As heavy rain added to the already sodden ground and swollen rivers and streams, water overflowed on to roads, railways and into homes.

It was a dismal picture as people got ready to go to work. Many of them managed to get only a few yards in their cars before they found roads impassable. They tried other routes only to find those blocked too.

Some attempted to drive through floods only to become stranded in deep water.

Many made no attempt to get to work as they were trying to save their homes and property from the rising waters.

The fire brigade received over 100 calls for help. Early in the day ten machines were out in the area and this rose to 15 as off-duty officers were called in to tour the area and access priorities.

In many areas electricity supplies failed as lightning struck overhead cables and water seeped into equipment.

A CONSIGNMENT of gold-plated bathroom fittings recently left a Horsham factory to go to Harrods, the top people’s London store.

The consignment is to form part of a luxury display of bathrooms including a £25,000 Italian marble suite.

And the order is not unusual for Newmark Precision Metal Finishes, of Victoria Street, which until recently was better known in the town as Newmark Watch Cases.

Brian Holdstock, managing director, said the firm had not made watch cases for ages, so after 30 years, it was decided to change its title and image.

“Our new name is a more accurate reflection of our work, for we specialise in high quality metal finishing. Our old title, as we found out the hard way, did not suggest that work field,” he said.

He made no apology about the opulence of the gold-plated fittings for he feels that the wealthy classes will always be able to afford that sort of thing and he is prepared to offer finishes in gold, silver or other precision metals.

Metal finishing, said Mr Holdstock, was a term that covered a wide variety of processes such as electroplating of precious and non-precious metals. It also covered anodising aluminium – including two colour effects – and engineering finishes such as engine turned and diamond cut patterns.

COUNTRY bus services could disappear in much the same way as the railways did in the 1960s, Upper Beeding parish councillors warned.

Speaking at their meeting in Small Dole Village Hall, John Thorpe said: “First they take away the train services, because they say you have a perfectly good bus service, then they start cutting the buses.

The proposed cuts, outlined in a document compiled by Southdown and the county council were variously described as ‘ludicrous’, ‘horrifying’ and ‘absolutely ridiculous’, and the council decided to make representations to that effect to the traffic commissioners.

The village’s county council representative, Jack Campbell, also chairman of Steyning Parish Council, one of the other villages involved in the suggested cuts, said: “For West Sussex County Council and Southdown to say there’s not enough time to discuss these cuts with all those concerned is a load of codswallop.

“They have known since February, and the proposed timetable is not going to the Traffic Commissioners until the end of April,” he said. “They are trying to sweep it under the table – I think it is horrifying.”