By Paul Draper, for Fairlight History Group and Fairlight Residents’ Association (previously published in Fairlight News)
Whenever you drive out of Fairlight Cove you can see the existing Fairlight Village sign in the grass verge opposite our Post Office. It first appeared in 1998 and has been there ever since but sadly it is now looking very tired.
We have all agreed that something must be done to the sign. So, last year our Parish Council started investigating a replacement but subsequently agreed to the Residents’ Association overseeing the best way forward. However, we at Fairlight History Group decided that before the village decides exactly what to do, we should look into the story behind our existing sign.
So why did Fairlight erect a sign and how was the location chosen? The location opposite the Post Office was undoubtedly the position most likely to be seen by the greatest number of residents and indeed non-residents. We have investigated the overall situation and cannot see that before 1998 we ever had any previous sign. To look at the earlier position we have to look back at the earlier Parish of Fairlight as the size and shape of the Parish has changed many times over the years. Indeed before 1921 there was no Fairlight Cove and no local Post Office. What is now Fairlight Cove was once Waites Farm and the entire estate was simply a farm with Waites Farm House located at the end of Waites Lane, where it is today. Village signs tend to be at the centre of a village by the village green, so where was the previous centre? Well the answer is probably by St. Andrew’s church. No examination of old photographs and postcards has revealed any indication of such a sign.
We have looked into our records and have discovered that the idea started in 1996 with the FRA. The present FRA was founded in 1947 and in 1996 their committee decided that they needed to do something to commemorate their forthcoming 50th anniversary. They agreed on a Village Sign and to make it more interesting they put the idea to all residents. A competition was organised for people to submit designs with a stated prize of £25.
The process was slow to get going but after some months, a total of six designs were received. No records exist showing the names or designs of the five losing submissions, but the winning entry was from the late Norman Dengate, a well-known local resident.
The full process was somewhat involved because of the location, cost and organisation and so the judging panel comprised members of both the FRA and the Parish Council. The total original cost was £446.50 and we were very fortunate to obtain full sponsorship from our local Estate Agents, Halifax Property Services.
Finally after a period of two years, the sign was unveiled on 10th October 1998. The unveiling committee comprised, Peter Jones (FRA Chairman), Ian Galbraith (Parish Council Chairman), John Lutman, Paul Gates (Halifax) and Norman Dengate.
The sign has remained in place since that date, but as mentioned above, we now need to do something about its condition. The FRA has circulated emails asking for ideas for the sign. New designs are welcomed, but if wanted, we can continue with the existing design. So we ask you all to consider the best options for the future of the Fairlight Village sign. Kindly let the FRA, the Parish Council or Fairlight History Group know your thoughts and the village will collate ideas and decide the best way forward.
Additionally, a small plaque is screwed to the side of the support pole of the existing sign. It refers to Fairlight’s previous successes in previous ‘Village of the year, East Sussex’ competitions. Further details of these competitions can be found on the walls on the smaller hall at Fairlight Village Hall. When you are able, please have a look at the certificates and photographs. They are all an important part of our history.
As usual, if you know anything further about any of the above story please contact us..
By Paul Draper.