30 years ago

From the West Sussex County Times

of Friday, June 3, 1983.

Tuesday night’s violent thunderstorms

cut electricity supplies to about 1,000

homes in the

Horsham area

and flooded shops

and offices in Bill-ingshurst.

Many households in Southwater and

Rusper were without power for several

hours after lightning damaged power

cables and blew fuses.

“It was a particularly vicious storm,”

said a Seeboard spokesman, “but we

got off quite lightly”. Engineers worked

through the night to restore supplies

and staff were drafted in at 6am to an-swer distress calls.

Torrential rain flooded several buildings

in High Street, Billingshurst. The Fruit

Shop, which suffered the same fate

only last December, was swamped with

three inches of water.

The Billingshurst offices of estate

agents, Churchman Burt and Sons,

were also affected. The manager was

looking back

* years


woken by police just after 5am with the

news that water was seeping into the


There was also flooding in New Street,

Billingshurst, and in Horsham a man-hole cover outside the railway station

was forced off by water.

Horsham firemen were called out just

after 3am when lightning set off an au-tomatic fire detector. West Sussex Fire

Brigade received 25 calls during the

night because of the storm.

Bethany Fellowship, a Christian organi-sation based near Handcross, is in the

running to buy Roffey Place, the former

RSPCA training college near Horsham.

An elder of the 200-member communi-ty said: “The whole thing is not clinched

at this stage.

“As far as we are concerned the wheels

are turning and they have not com-pleted the cycle. But the whole thing

is very serious and we are following it


The fellowship, founded by Colin Ur-quhart five years ago and dedicated to

‘spiritual renewal’, sends missionary

teams all over the world.

The news that it had put in an offer for

Roffey Place came as another inter-ested buyer, Oak Ridge Radio Ltd, was

given the go-ahead to use the building

as studios for the independent station

serving Reigate and Crawley.

But at a meeting area one plans sub-committee heard there was a ‘suspi-cion’ that Oak Ridge might have had its

bid for Roffey Place turned down.

Oak Ridge’s chairman, John Christian,

said: “I just don’t know. We put in a very

substantial offer, but as I understand

it we were outbid by a religious com-munity and they had until last Friday to

exchange contracts. But no one has

said a word to me. There is no distress

on our side. We are well in line for an-other property and we shall be on the

air in time.”

Warnham parish councillors have

slammed conversion plans for Field

Place, birthplace of the poet Shelley.

A Guernsey-based development com-pany Curstar Ltd, which now owns the

15 bedroom house – parts of which date

back to 1410 – has applied to convert

part of the second floor into offices.

The company has also applied to Hor-sham District Council for the removal of

an agricultural occupancy condition on

an adjoining cottage.

Charles Lucas, chairman of the council

and also a county councillor, said it was

difficult to know what Curstar planned

for the building with only piecemeal ap-plications being made.

Whatever they had in mind, he said, he

would like to see the house remain as

a private home. “Our view is that it has

always been a residential house and it

should remain as a residential house.”

He said there had been a lot of rumour

about just what Curstar planned

and many objections from Warnham

residents to the two applications. Any

change in the building’s structure which

might endanger its listing as a grade

one building of special historical and

architectural interest should be fought,

he said