Little Common Ladies' Club

THE club resumed on January 28 after the Christmas and New Year break, during which 63 members enjoyed their Christmas dinner at the Cooden Beach Golf Club.

As always, it was a very enjoyable evening. The meal was excellent and the service impeccable. Our thanks to the management and staff at the golf club.

The first meeting for 2009 was a talk given by Julian Porter, curator of Bexhill Museum, on Smugglers and Smuggling.

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As usual, Mr Porter gaves a most interesting and informative talk about the smuggling along our coast. Bexhill was very much involved in the notoriety, having had several well-known local gangs.

The Pocock Gang, who were butchers in High Street, Old Town; George Gillham and family, who were carpenters in Little Common and the Groombridge Gang, who had links with George Blackman, landlord of The Red Lion at Hooe.

The smuggling situation worsened after the Battle of Waterloo due to the return of soldiers and sailors who could find no legitimate employment and so turned to smuggling.

Customs and Excise officers or 'Preventivemen' tried to stop the smuggling with the help of the Army in the form of dragoons.

Many events took place but one particularly grim and bloody encounter took place at Sidley, near the New Inn, which later became known as The Battle of Sidley Green.

This was on Friday, January 28, 1828, when smugglers had fought a running battle with men of the Coast Blockade all the way from the shore, resulting in many men being seriously wounded, two fatally.

One of the Coast Blockade side, a Quartermaster Collins, was beaten to death. On the smugglers' side, Timothy Smithurst was shot through the neck.

Many more of this battles occurred until smuggling came to an end in 1850.

It is hard to believe today that Bexhill was once involved in these goings on.

The next meeting is on Wednesday, February 25, at 7.45pm at Little Common Community Centre when Mr C. Oliver will instruct us in line dancing.

Forthcoming events include a trip to Bromley for shopping and/or the theatre, also a coach trip to Arundel for the Carpet of Flowers.

We give a warm welcome to all new members. Why not come along and enjoy an evening with us?