If you look above the shops in Horsham’s West Street one feature that is hidden in plain sight illustrates how old many of the buildings are.
For you will see a number with Horsham stone roofs. Horsham stone was the traditional roofing material in this area, but with ever growing demand and the expense, not only in the stone itself, but building a structure that could carry tons in weight, it is not surprising that Welsh slate or clay tiles became popular from the Victorian period. Therefore many of the buildings with stone roofs are likely to be over 200 years old.
They are the survivals, but it is clear that many buildings were pulled down to make way for the new demands of the high street shopper. One such building was the Black Horse Inn, demolished around 1970.
The Black Horse Inn no longer exists, but the name is commemorated in Black Horse Way.The town archives held at Horsham Museum suggest that this property was an inn as far back as 1690. In 1793 the property was sold for £1,370.
The property was sold four years later for £1,500, reflecting the inflation that occurred in Britain at the time of the French Revolutionary wars and the general prosperity of Horsham.
The biggest change to the hotel came in 1865 when Horsham Corn Exchange was built next to the hotel. In 1914 the Corn Exchange had moved out of the building and it was incorporated in to the hotel building becoming the Assembly Rooms. Locally in the 1950s and 1960s, perhaps earlier, the building was known as Kickers or Old Kicker.
West Street is currently the subject of a major revamp and old photos in this series have been kindly provided by Horsham District Council’s Horsham Museum and Art Gallery.