First Meeting – 2024

Our first meeting of 2024 is on Friday 2nd February, 7:30 pm at Ferring Village Hall.  The evening will start with our AGM, after which, Bill Gage will give us his talk – “Tails from the Rails”.  Bill was a former Assistant County Archivist at West Sussex Record Office, and he will use social history as a platform to illustrate the development of the railway network.

Christmas Social

Our next meeting is our ticketed Christmas Social on Friday 8th December at 7:30 pm.  We will enjoy our usual buffet, quiz, and raffle, and be entertained by Chris Horlock on the subject of “A Sussex Christmas”.  Tickets available from Ed Miller at £10 each.  Please bring your own drinks.

Amberley Working Museum

Our next meeting is on Friday 3rd November at 7:30.  The meeting will be at Ferring Village Hall.  We will be treated to a presentation on Amberley Working Museum by Katrina Burton, the Museum Director.  We are hoping that the 2024 Ferring History Magazine will be ready in time for this meeting, and will be accepting membership renewals for 2024.

Ferring WWII Defences

Our plans for renovating the Pill Box on Pattersons Walk are moving ahead. The Big Bale Out removed 800 litres of rainwater from the floor and the next step is to make the structure waterproof. The Pill Box was only one element in the anti-invasion measures of 1940.
Pete Coe, as well as leading the restoration, has researched the whole range of devices, deployments and installations, and has drawn on his own experience serving with the Royal Engineers, to put together a talk which will be of great interest. 
His first presentation will be to Ferring History Group members at 2.30 on Sunday 10 September, meeting in the small car park at the end of Sea Lane. To avoid overcrowding he will give a repeat presentation, for Conservation Group members on 24 September, and to others who may be interested a few weeks later. The presentations  will include an opportunity to look into the interior of the Pill Box.
We are inviting all those attending to give a donation of £3, to start off our funding for the work to be done over the next six months.

Ferring WWII Pill Box

I’m sure that most of you will be familiar with the rather drab looking pebble dash square structure on Patterson’s Walk. This deliberately camouflaged building is the best example of a Type 26 Pill Box on the West Sussex coast and was built in 1941 to be part of the ‘costal crust’ national defences against a then anticipated invasion during WWII.

A few months ago members of the History and Conservation Groups lead by Pete Coe, Simon Cornish and Ed Miller attempted to find the keys for the box and open it to determine whether it would be possible to restore the box to become an educational asset for the village. Their first efforts were hampered by two completely seized locks so with the help of a good locksmith, a former Police Officer who had experience in breaking and entering, access was gained and new locks fitted.

Thankfully the inside was found to be in fairly good condition, the outside of the three apertures had been bricked up in the past but the inside still clearly shows the stepped opening used to widen the field of view and fire while protecting the soldiers inside. The original wooden shelves used to support the machine guns on are still in place although badly decayed.

With this positive find the group started looking to create a restoration project and the first step was to remove the 800 litres of rain water that had penetrated the concrete over a number of years.

On 28th July a bucket party of villagers helped by our MP Sir Peter Bottomley formed a chain to bail out the box. Water was removed and taken down the beach to the waters edge. It was quite a buzz and completed quickly in 20 minutes thanks to the number of volunteers who turned up.

Now firm plans can be developed to stabilise and improve the structure to make it safe for future educational use.

Meanwhile research continues to find out as much of the history of our Pill Box and of the local wartime defences as possible.

More articles will follow as the restoration continues and the story behind the box is revealed.

If anyone has any information or photos regarding any of the wartime defences of Ferring please get in touch especially anyone who remembers it before it was bricked up.

We are also looking for grants and funding to help with moving this forward.

Please Contact ferringpillbox@gmail.com

Article and photos by Mary Coe

Worthing in World War II – 4th August

Our next meeting is on Friday 4th August, where Chris Hare will be talking about Worthing in World War II.  Chris is a well known local historian, born in Worthing.  He is the author of a number of local history books.

This meeting will take place at 7:30, in Ferring Church Centre

Ferring Festival – 8th July

Ferring History Group, along with Ferring Conservation Group will be represented at the Ferring Festival.  Please come along and see us on the Glebelands, where you will be able to renew your membership, purchase copies of Ed’s books (The Day Before Yesterday, and The Henty Century).  We will also be selling books of interest from our own library at bargain prices.

Church & Churchyard – 2nd July

Our next Sunday afternoon “walk” will be on 2nd July.  Ed will guide us around the structure of the church, and discuss its history, and David will guide us around the churchyard pointing out graves of interest.  Meet at the church at 2:30 p.m.

1921 Census Walk

Our first walk of the year will be on Sunday 28th May.  Please meet at the Henty Arms car park at 2:30 pm.  In June 1921, there were 256 people living in approx 50 properties in Ferring.  We are going to walk around about 40 of them, looking at who was living in the village, and what they did.  The walk will be approx 2.5 miles, and will finish by the entrance to Sea Lane Gardens.  If you intend to come on the walk, please download and print these accompanying notes : 1921 Census Walk Notes