Talk - ‘Pictures of Edwardian Lewes’

In 1902, the first known British picture postcard was created, and after that, postcards became hugely popular. Collector and historian Bob Cairns is giving an illustrated talk about Edwardian Lewes using some of his vast collection of old photographic postcards. ‘In some ways’ he tells me ‘it’s remarkable how little some parts of Lewes have changed, although the uses of many buildings are different.’ I ask him to name his favourite lost feature of Lewes. ‘I’d never thought about it’ he says ‘but I’ve got a fascinating series of postcards of how North Street used to look. It was a working class area, but all the vernacular architecture was razed to the ground during the ‘slum clearance’ of the 1950s and 60s. Now there are only car parks.’

So how does he feel about the proposed Phoenix development? ‘I’m neutral because I don’t live in Lewes, but towns do need to be dynamic.’ He told me about the old Uckfield Railway line, demolished in 1960s. ‘It used to run past the library, opposite Boots, through what is now Costa Coffee. The grand Congregational Tabernacle was on the North side of the railway, where we now have New Look and Forfars. And of course there was the Bear Hotel by the river, burned down in 1920, where the Argos building stands’. He ends up by pointing out how fortunate Lewes is to have had such great photographers living and working here, who helped create such an interesting record of the town, most famously Edward Reeves and James Cheetham. EC

Malling Street in Edwardian times. The Southdown Brewery on the
left was until recently the Esso garage

Anne of Cleves House
When? 7.30pm
How Much? £5
(t) 01273 474610