Waldron re-lived its past

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Residents and visitors in Waldron spent last weekend digging into its history and making some unexpected discoveries.

The audience in the packed village hall on Friday heard Waldron had its own ironworks when the Weald was the place where guns and ordnance were made.

On Saturday and Sunday an exhibition of photographs and memorabilia from the past century or so fascinated hundreds of people, some reminisced and others found out who had lived in their cottage 100 years ago. One former Waldron resident had been researched by Ian Dixon, a member of the Friends of Waldron Churches, which organised the weekend. Ian’s subject was Kate Brooks, who was born in 1878, went to Waldron’s school in The Street, left at 11 when she passed her school leaving certificate and went into service in Lewes. Kate lived until she was 102, had married and had two children but neither had given her any grandchildren.

“So it seemed that the family had died out – or had it?” queried Ian. The answer came sooner than he had thought possible.

Visiting the exhibition was a Ursula, who was thrilled to see the display and explained that she was the granddaughter of Miriam, one of Kate Brooks’ sisters. So the family line hadn’t died out with Kate and the story continues.

Another fragment of history was unearthed with a picture of Jim Gaston in uniform, sitting with his wife Daisy.

Military historian Steve Roberts, who gave an inspiring talk about the village and its First World War history, was able to unearth his service record to the point when he was severely wounded and sent home to a Red Cross Hospital in Hampshire.

Jim was told his wounds would prevent him having children but he proved the medics wrong by fathering three with wife Daisy. He was one of the fortunate ones who returned home, living until he was 80 at Cross in Hand and seeing his grandchildren.

One lad, Carey Jarvis, whose name is read out every Remembrance Day, was lost at sea at the age of only 16, when the vessel he was in blew up, taking him and General Kitchener to the bottom of the ocean.

The final event was a concert by Sussex Harmony, re-enacting music and songs once sung in rural parish churches.