Stuff of Lewes folklore

Pre-TV days.
Pre-TV days.

RACING memories provide images of jockeys, trainers, and horses, but add a little mash of cinema manager, Fatty Briggs, and Britain’s oldest barmaid, Greenie Greenfield, and you have the stuff of Lewes folklore.

Local man Fred Rees won the Grand National on Shaun Spadah in 1921. Fred’s brother, Bilbie Rees, remarkably, won the Grand National the next year on Music Hall.

They used to ride for trainer George Poole of Heath House Stables.

Shaun Spadah spent his last years in Lewes and on his death was buried on Lewes Racecourse. A memorial stone was added there in June, 1953.

It was Fred’s habit to lay a wreath on Spadah’s grave every Grand National Day. When Fred died, his ashes were scattered there.

The late, great Fatty Briggs was manager of the Cinema de Luxe (now the offices of the Sussex Express). It was Fatty’s habit to give private Pathe News showings of the Grand National to members of the Lewes racing fraternity in the pre-television days of the 1940s.

Pictured is such a group with Fatty in the left foreground and, among others, Bob Moore, Leslie and George Butchers, Frank Cox, Fred Rees, Tom Masson, Mrs Ward, Colonel Ward, Jack Hamilton, Tim Sullivan, Don Butchers, Harvey Downs and Mr Feltham.

And, finally, Greenie was barmaid at the White Hart for 37 years. She was in her 80s when she finally said goodbye to the saloon bar where, later, a painting of her hung for many years.

In her heyday she sold whisky at 3s 6d a bottle and beer at 2d a pint.

Greenie served daily from 7am to 11pm - ands her favourite tipple was a cup of tea!

She was also a great friend of the Lewes racing fraternity and many was the evening when she presided over betting discussions.

Read our regular nostalgia column in the Sussex Express every week.