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The History of Eastergate

Barnham Road


Welcome to a new and exciting initiative to bring the history of our villages together in one place where it will be accessible to local residents, schools and anyone, anywhere, interested in social history. 



Following research undertaken for West Sussex Records Office and the success of her book, 'Barnham How the railway changed village life', Sandra Lowton would like to share the wealth of local history she uncovered from many sources.


Over the next few months, information, documents and photographs will be uploaded onto both council websites. The boundary between the two parishes is the small rife which runs through a trading estate, under the road and railway line, then to the west of Marshall Close and Church Lane. The railway station and branch line to Bognor were built in Eastergate parish but closer to Barnham village so the station was named Barnham Junction. The commercial centre has grown up around the station and this has caused confusion ever since. Therefore, all documents relating to Barnham parish will appear on the Barnham Parish Council website, Eastergate (spilling into Aldingbourne) and Fontwell will appear on the Eastergate Parish Council website, and the Barnham commercial centre will appear on both.



Barnham Station

At the beginning of the 1860s Barnham and Eastergate were small, quiet, agricultural villages that had changed little over the centuries. From 1846 a single track railway line had run through the parishes with the nearest stations at Woodgate and Yapton. In 1857 the track was doubled and steam trains became a common sight with their noise, soot and whistles as they passed the workers and cattle in the fields. When the site for the junction of the Bognor branch line with the main Brighton south coast line was chosen, no commercial centre was planned and for a while it had little impact on the lives of the local residents. The new station was called Barnham Junction, although it lay within the parish of Eastergate,  but the inn opposite had borne the name of Barnham in its title for many years, being close to the Barnham Bridge over the small stream which formed the boundary, and the station was  nearer to Barnham village at St Mary’s Church.


To view the history and photos follow the link to Barnham Station

Eastergate Church of England Primary School


The first school in Eastergate, built in School Lane, served the community for nearly 150 years until the staff and children were able to relocate to a pioneering new open plan building in Church Lane in 1970. By this time the tiny old school had 100+ pupils and high standards were maintained despite the crowded, damp conditions.


To view the history and photos follow the link to Eastergate Primary School


Barnham Livestock Market


Opened in 1882, the livestock market brought prosperity to Barnham and Eastergate. In its heyday the Monday market sold in a typical year over 4000 cattle, 3600 calves, 30000 sheep and lambs, and 8500 pigs. The livestock were driven by local farmers and also arrived by rail.  They were then transported all across southern England for slaughter. The Second World War marked the beginning of the end and Stride and Son decided to concentrate on Chichester. Barnham Market closed in 1949.


To view the history and photos follow the link to Barnham Livestock Market



Elm Tree Stores and the Collins Family


Elm Tree Stores, formerly known as the Smith’s Shop, has been a feature of Eastergate village for over 150 years. Named after the elm tree that stood in the square until struck by Dutch elm disease, the store sold everything from bread to coal. The Collins family has been associated with the store and the village for generations and information about both can be found here.


To view the history and photos follow the link to Elm Tree Stores


The Wilkes Head

Situated within the conservation area of Church Lane, Eastergate, The Wilkes Head is a traditional public house with a long history dating back to the end of the 18th century.


To view the history and photos follow the link to The Wilkes Head


 Barnham Bridge Inn/ Railway Hotel and Rose Cottages, Barnham Road


An inn has been on or near this site since the early 19th century, long before the advent of the railway station and the Bognor branch line. The inn was demolished and rebuilt in 1907 to cater for the trade brought principally by the livestock market when Barnham was a bustling village well connected by the railway. 

To view the history and photos follow the link to Barnham Bridge Inn and Rose Cottages

Penfolds of Barnham


1909 saw the arrival in Barnham of James Lear Penfold whose family owned the Tortington Iron Works in Arundel. JL Penfold initially undertook contract threshing at local farms and sold and serviced farm machinery. However, over the next 50 years he diversified to found Penfold Builders Merchants, Barnham Transport Company, Penfold Metallising Company and Penfold Ready Mixed Concrete Ltd, becoming a major employer in the area. 


To view the history and photos follow the link to Penfolds


Barnham Nurseries and the Marshall Family


In 1881 Ebenezer James Marshall, headmaster of Brighton Grammar School, bought a cottage in Church Lane. The climate, soil and transport links in Barnham encouraged him to set up his two sons, Henry and Sidney, aged 21 and 18 respectively, as nurserymen. At the height of their success the brothers owned over 300 acres of cultivated land between them and were the biggest employers spanning four parishes.


To view the history and photos follow the link to Barnham Nurseries and the Marshall Family


Eastergate and Barnham Memorials 


Many local families lost menfolk in World War One and in most case there was no grave to visit. The men, some little more than boys, just didn’t come home. The churches of St Mary the Virgin at Barnham and St George at Eastergate both contain memorials and the Lion monument stands proud and prominent as a lasting reminder of their sacrifice.


To view the history and photos follow the link to Eastergate and Barnham Memorials


Barnham Road shops Part I (north side)


Barnham Junction Station and the Livestock Market attracted merchants selling goods associated with both agriculture and the growing community. The 1920s and 30s saw purpose-built premises replace the wooden shacks. Many of these buildings are in use today albeit with different goods and services for sale.


To view the history and photos follow the link to Barnham Road shops Part I north side


Barnham Road shops Part 2 (south side)


In the 1920s and 30s the shops that opened reflected the needs of the expanding village. These ranged from coal merchant to provisions to bicycle repairs. Today many of these premises are still occupied but Take Away meals predominate.


To view the history and photos follow the link to Barnham Road shops Part 2 south side


Manor Farm 


Set in a conservation area, the farm comprises three Grade II listed buildings: the 16th century farmhouse, 17th century granary and also a large barn/cartshed, plus over 300 acres of grade I farmland. Farmed since 1918 by just two families, the Robinsons and the Helyers, the farm is owned by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and is earmarked by Arun District Council for housing.


To view the history and photos follow the link to Manor Farm


The Walling Family, Harness Maker, Boot Mender and the Silver Queen 

The Walling brothers, Will and Cecil, were very much of their time and their story encompasses the transition from horse to motorised transport.


To view the history and photos follow the link to The Walling Family


West Barnham


This section looks at the development of Barnham Road, Elm Grove and Elm Grove South predominantly by Sydney Marshall’s company, West Barnham Estates, and by Harry Knight. It includes the 18th century Thimble Cottage.


To view the history and photos follow the link to West Barnham


Eastergate Village Hall


Opened in 1908 as a village hall and rifle range, this building holds a secret that is little known or appreciated. The interior is adorned with paintings depicting scenes from Sussex history. The hall was financed by Alfred Day who later opened Fontwell Park Race Course, Reverend Yoward of St George’s Church and Captain Orr Ewing of Aldingbourne House. It is now run as a charity with a committee formed of members of the parish council and hall users.


To view the history and photos follow the link to Eastergate Village Hall


Bognor Water Company Pumping Station


Formed in 1874, the Bognor Water Company sought to provide the expanding town with a pure water supply. This was discovered in Fontwell Avenue, Eastergate and, despite being taken over first by the Bognor Urban District Council in 1929 and by Portsmouth Water in the 1960s, water is still being pumped today.


To view the history and photos follow the link to Bognor Water Company


The Ball’s Hut Inn and Ye Olde Greenwood Café, Arundel Road, Fontwell


These two buildings have disappeared from Fontwell but were once well known to motorists, lorry drivers, cyclists and locals. The Ball’s Hut Inn (renamed The Fontwell in the 1980s) was demolished in 1992 and the Greenwood café tea rooms became a transport café and then the original Little Chef before it too was demolished.


To view the history and photos follow the link to The Balls Hut Inn and Ye Olde Greenwood Cafe


Disclaimer - Every effort has been made to include only images that are out of copyright or for which permission has been given for historical use. Much of the information has been gleaned from the memories of local residents past and present. The validity cannot therefore always be verified but is presented in good faith. Apologies are given for any inadvertent omissions, errors or inaccuracy in content.