Snapshot Memories of England's Hollywood



NEB's Interviews

Fred Batten
“Fred Batten and his brother, Will came from Somerset 56 years ago to buy a business. They went to Bungalow Town and fell under the spell.”

Fred with his wife Kathleen and daughter Mary c 1945

“I remember it was a lovely day and both my brother and I were more than impressed with the railway carriages, brightly painted with pretty chintz curtains, forming part of the various types of chalet bungalows.”

“What about the people who lived there, were they pleasant sort of people?”

“Oh, they were delightfully carefree people; there was something strangely attractive about Shoreham Beach.”

“What sort of people lived there? Sporting people? Theatrical people, I know, quite a lot.”

“There was a cross-section of almost every trade and profession, there was Sir Malcolm Campbell.” (father of Donald Campbell)

“Where did he live?”

“He lived at Tipperary.”

“That was the one with the big tennis court, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, and many are the times I’ve helped push him round that tennis court to get his Bugatti going when he was a regular racing driver at Brooklands.”

“What happened when the old bridge came down?”

“If we were delivering milk with the horse floats, we had to drive over the level crossing at Old Shoreham, round by the Sussex Pad, and then across New Salts Farm to get to the beach and that prompted us to make use of a very old ford, it must have been, over the river, slightly south of where the footbridge was eventually built.”

“That must have been the one called Dolphin Hard, was it?”

“Yes, I think it probably was, yes!”

"Well, came the war, and after Dunkirk the army gave 48 hours notice before destroying all but a few of the bungalows. The beach was prohibited except to the Army and Observer Corps. Chief observer was Fred Batten, who, after some prompting, spoke of an experience."

Fred Batten Chief Observer c 1940-1945

“Oh yes, we had high seas for 2 or 3 days, and it left a mine uncovered, just in front of the post. We on duty,informed the Bomb Disposal Unit, and they were coming as soon as possible to deal with it. But the tide was rapidly coming in and I didn’t want to lose sight of it, so I went down to the beach and caught hold of it very carefully and lifted it, and having lifted it, I felt quite safe, and I took it through the bungalow, across the Old Fort Road, and gradually edged it under the barbed wire, which enclosed another minefield. The Bomb Disposal people came later on and exploded it and said that it was in a dangerous condition, and it was only prevented from going off by a small piece of shingle, but I did handle it very carefully.”

 Patti Gray   Jim Walters Fred Batten

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